Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart, you let us down

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Dear Mayor Kennedy Stewart,

You let us down. Doctors, scientists, residents and youth were pleading with you not to derail Vancouver’s groundbreaking climate plan. But you voted to punch a hole through it both in terms of emissions reductions and funding. This was a moment that required political courage, and sadly you came up short. 

I am writing you today to emphasize why this cuts so deep for all of us who are desperately trying to preserve some semblance of a safe future.

Vancouver was supposed to be different. It’s the one level of government, where a majority of our elected officials actually understood the gravity of the climate emergency and the pace and scale of change necessary to avert the worst of it. 

This city was showing everyone how it is done. After last night’s vote, we’re just yet another tragic example of actions that don’t measure up to our words. Now we have no level of government to point to that’s acting with the urgency this crisis warrants. 

Either you still haven’t internalized what failure on climate change looks like (hint: this summer, every summer, and worse) or worse yet you actually know the consequences of missing targets and you chose to put political expediency first. 

This parking program may not be the perfect policy, but it was a good one. It charged a meagre $3.75 a month to everyone who currently parks for free to create the framework to charge up to $1,000 a year to those who bought brand new gas-guzzling vehicles.

These new fees would have funded up to 31 per cent of the Climate Emergency Action Plan, and equally as important, achieved up to 14 per cent of the emissions reductions of “Big Move #3”, the switch to electric vehicles.

That’s because these charges would encourage people making the decision to purchase a vehicle to choose cleaner options. Even if they were buying used years down the road, they would have that ability, because someone else made the choice to buy electric in 2023. 

Instead, people will keep on buying polluting vehicles and parking them for free on public land. Politicians in Victoria and Ottawa will shrug their shoulders as they use your cowardice to justify why they too can’t take the action, let’s be clear here, everyone agrees is required. 

Other cities in the region will feel less pressure to draft climate plans that are as ambitious and specific as Vancouver’s. More youth will give up hope that politicians will put their future above their own, and settle in for a lifetime of wildfires, heatwaves and death. 

Thanks for that. I guess the rest of us will just have to dust ourselves off and try to salvage climate action in Vancouver despite you. I just wanted you to know how utterly disappointed we are.


Peter McCartney

More from this campaign