Across the entire province, COVID-19 has had a huge impact. It closed our social networks and cancelled our travel plans. Where at one time we would have gone to bars or restaurants, enjoyed concerts or attended events, COVID-19 required us to stay closer to home.
That put our communities in a spotlight like never before, forcing all of us to think about how we live and play, how we work and how we get around.
For many, this meant walking and cycling instead of driving, and spending more time in parks. People filled outdoor spaces as one of the only areas where we could socialize while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines. As businesses slowly reopened, we saw them expand out onto our streets in order to take advantage of the relative safety of serving outdoors.
As BC turns its attention to economic recovery, we have a unique opportunity to hold on to some of these changes that have improved our quality of life and helped build more resiliency into our communities. While local governments have shown leadership on this front, what has been missing is a provincial partner that tirelessly pursues the vision of enhancing the liveability and sustainability of our cities.
There are many things we can do, in partnership with local governments, to make our cities more attractive and inclusive places to live, work and play. We can partner with local governments to drive the development of more walkable neighbourhoods, complete communities, and healthy community design. We can expand provincial funding for sustainable projects such as bike lanes, paths, parks, community spaces and pedestrian-only streets. And as part of our plan to support vibrant cities in BC, we also need to have an honest conversation about sustainable funding for local governments that will allow them to plan and to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The BC Greens' plan for Vibrant cities
This partnership will drive development by cost-shared funding for projects such as bike lanes, trails, parks, community spaces and pedestrian-only streets.
- Removing PST from electric bikes;
- Requiring offices and commercial premises to provide secure bike parking with charging capabilities;
- Creating more safe storage options including bike lockers at key locations, e.g. transport hubs.
The current system leaves local governments overly reliant on regressive property taxes and unable to properly deliver the projects required for cities in the 21st century.
This would include a committee to consider relevant recommendations in the UBCM report Strong Fiscal Futures.