Where do Vancouver mayoral candidates stand on climate policies?

With the region being ensconced in smoke for much of the week, we asked those looking to replace Mayor Gregor Robertson what they would do to keep temperatures stable.

"It's global warming ... not Vancouver warming," said one, but all have different ideas they would champion

Downtown Vancouver is blanketed by wildfire smoke on the morning of Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (Jodie Martinson/CBC)

After many days, the smog has lifted from Vancouver's skyline. That doesn't mean the issue of climate change is going away.

While questions around housing have dominated the city's political debates for months, outgoing mayor Gregor Robertson made climate policies a centrepiece of his leadership. 

Given that, and given the region has been ensconced in smoke for much of the week, we asked seven of the candidates looking to be the next mayor of Vancouver if the city could help stabilize temperatures around B.C. in the next generation, and what policies that might entail. 

Here's what they said:

Continue the current path

Vision Vancouver's Ian Campbell and independent Shauna Sylvester provided the most extensive answers, with both indicating broad support for the city's Greenest City Action Plan, which calls for the city to run fully off renewable energy sources by 2050.

"I am committed to keeping us on target to reach the Greenest City goals ... and implementing social strategies to ensure that people have safe spaces and adequate support during extreme weather conditions, including the air quality we are dealing with right now," said Campbell.

Sylvester also mentioned a number of different policies she would push for, including more incentives for green retrofits on older buildings, accelerating the electrification of Vancouver's infrastructure and ensuring all new buildings could withstand a sea level rise of one metre.

"I have spent the last 10 years working on climate change issues with cities in Canada," she said. "I've worked with the City of Vancouver to advance their climate solutions. I think we have made progress but we have so much more to do and it is urgent," she said.  

Starting in January 2019, all parking stalls for residents at new condo developments in Vancouver will have to have the capability to charge electric vehicles. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Kinder Morgan and rezoning 

Two of the candidates — independent Kennedy Stewart and Yes Vancouver's Hector Bremner — used the question to highlight particular issues they have put front and centre of their campaigns. 

Stewart, who has been arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, vowed to continue his opposition.

"As mayor I will continue to fight to stop  the new Kinder Morgan pipeline which will negatively impact climate change and poses a huge risk to our coastal economy, including taking the federal government to the supreme court," said Stewart, who pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for protesting the Trans Mountain in March. 

Campbell was the only other candidate to mention the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which was purchased by the federal government in May. 

Bremner focused his remarks on increasing the city's density, arguing fewer people would feel compelled to use their own vehicles. 

"[Let's] get away from our current, less green approach, which is to keep 76 per cent of the city as single family, detached, suburbanized sprawl housing, and create more centres where people can have flexibility in intermodal transportation," he said.

Bremner also talked about reducing the city's effluent, saying the city needed to be more "sensitive of what we're putting into our water."           

Hector Bremner's campaign has focused on changing single-family neighbourhoods so that they would have more higher-density buildings. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)
       

Audits and industry

NPA candidate Ken Sim said his party would release a full platform in September, but it would include "increased electric and lower-carbon vehicle infrastructure, close collaboration with industry to reduce emissions, and making it easier for commuters to get around the city on foot, on their bikes, and by transit — helping to reduce gridlock and idling for those who drive as well."

Sim, who co-founded Nurse Next Door and Rosemary Rocksalt, a bagel shop, before entering politics, was the only candidate to mention working with businesses in his answer.

ProVancouver candidate David Chen, like others, said the city needed to do more to reduce the use of private vehicles, but also said the city needed to keep older buildings up longer.  

"Even green builds may have a net positive carbon footprint when the building is replaced prematurely ... ProVancouver knows that keeping buildings intact as long as possible will reduce the net carbon impact," he said. 

Chen also said his party would do an audit of the Greenest City Action Plan.

Criticized the question

Coalition Vancouver candidate Wai Young sent her answer after the deadline for publication — but did not provide any policies, instead attacking the premise of the question. 

"The issues facing Vancouver are monumental and man-made. They are predictable outcomes of the lack of leadership at City Hall along with an ideology that refuses to ask honest questions and tackle the hard issues," she wrote in part. 

"Yet reporters and newspapers want the public discourse on this year's election to be about issues that the City has little control over — like the smog from the forest fires."

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