Report on Regina's renewable targets emphasizes equity
The report recommends fare-free public transit, more green spaces, improved safety and access to paths, parks
A report on Regina's renewability targets says the city needs to focus on equity when making policies.
Renewable Regina: Putting Equity into Action was written by researchers at the University of Regina and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, along with community members.
The report was prompted by city council voting unanimously to go 100 per cent renewable by 2050.
The researchers said the city's most vulnerable people could be left behind in policy making and offered suggestions including the creation of a transition committee and an equity committee to help inform renewable decisions.
"Attention to equity and marginalized groups within our city isn't some luxury add on, but fundamental to transition to 100 per cent renewability," Emily Eaton, an associate professor of geography and environmental studies at the U of R, said.
The recommendations call for the committees to be tasked with:
- Exploring phased-in fare-free public transit.
- Identifying improvements to the city's public transport infrastructure.
- Identifying improvements for bike and pedestrian paths.
- Understanding and combating discrimination in public spaces.
- Investigating how to best incentivize energy efficiency for rental properties.
- Considering how SaskPower could adapt so communities can look at energy-sharing programs.
- Investigating innovative energy-financial programs to help people install renewable energy products.
- Investigating the possibility of converting significant amounts of surface parking to green spaces for walking, cycling and recreation.
- Reviewing accessibility and safety of parks and paths.
- Considering the impacts of automation and autonomous vehicles on jobs.
At the media event launching the report, speakers emphasized the importance of public transit to renewable modes of transportation, but also its importance to vulnerable populations.
"When traveling in public, some of our vulnerable clients struggle to get across the city using public transit for them and their children," Stephanie Taylor, executive director of Regina Transition House, said.
"Frequent and direct public transit routes with well lit stops and promotion of awareness about safety features that can be accessed on the bus for those leaving violent and abusive situations would assist in promoting confidence and using public transit."
The other issue Taylor said her clients frequently face is non-energy efficient rental homes when trying to escape dangerous situations.
"Sometimes energy is literally flowing right out of unrepaired windows in our coldest winter months," she said.
Taylor said she wants to see energy incentives for landlords to retrofit housing and maintain their buildings with renewable energy.
Eaton said the research group focused on equity because the same theme kept emerging in other cities with 100 per cent renewability targets. She said 100 per cent of the population had to be on board.
"If we don't focus on including everyone and ensuring that people see energy transition as a net benefit to them, we risk alienating them. We risk people seeing energy transition as an additional cost to their lives," Eaton said. "Just think of what happened, for example, with the carbon tax and the backlash."
An example of needing to make sure all people were on board was Portland, Oregon, according to the report. The city was falling short of it's aggressive transit ridership targets and only through consultations did it find that not everyone felt safe, especially women and people of colour.
"They concluded that they had to address equity in order to achieve their ridership targets," Eaton said.
Simon Enoch, director of the Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives, said he's hopeful the city will implement the report before the municipal election and start looking for members for the equity and transition committees in 2020.