Delaying climate action to prioritize building permits is not an emergency response

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Wilderness Committee

VANCOUVER / UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh AND səlilwətaɬ TERRITORIES — Vancouver residents are raising alarm about the possibility of city council delaying new rules to remove fracked gas from new homes up to three stories.

Today City of Vancouver staff are presenting a proposal to City Council to delay changes to Vancouver’s building bylaw. New rules would require new and renovated homes to use electric boilers and heat pumps instead of gas from 2022 to 2023. They are key to the city reaching its goal of cutting carbon pollution from buildings in half by 2030, a “Big Move” that does much of the heavy lifting in its climate plan. It’s among several recommendations intended to let staff focus on clearing a backlog of building permits.

“People here in B.C. and all around the world are losing their homes to climate disasters, yet Vancouver wants to delay the urgent action needed to prevent further damage because it can’t get its act together to permit garages?” said Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “It is going to take a transformational change of every industry, every community, every government to solve climate change. And if a city that prides itself on being a leader is going to let something as trivial as a lack of staff capacity stand in its way, I really don’t know how we’re going to do it.”

Advocates from healthcare, faith groups, student organizations and environmental groups will speak to council on Tuesday morning to ask them to reject this recommendation from staff. Among them are the young people who organized to have Vancouver declare a climate emergency and pass its response plan.

“Only seven months ago, we organized for Vancouver City Council to pass the Climate Emergency Action Plan, a plan that acted on the climate catastrophe like an actual crisis, not something you can just put off and deal with later. City councillors voted for the plan because they realized that it’s our future they are voting on. If city councillors understood it seven months ago, they need to understand it now — we have no more time to waste,” said Talal Wolf, an organizer with Sustainabiliteens, the youth-led climate justice group that mobilized for the plan last November. “We all experience the effects of climate change, from the wildfire smoke that keeps us locked inside in the summer, to the parts of the city that will be underwater soon if we keep waiting and delaying our actions. City councillors need to vote against recommendation D. Our futures are more important than permitting.” 

“A vote to delay implementation of the Zero Emissions Building plan is a vote against the health of all who live in Vancouver. Smoke from record-breaking wildfires, worsened by climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, has damaged our physical and mental health for three out of the past four summers — and is set to worsen if we don’t take action now,” offered Dr. Melissa Lem, a Vancouver family physician and President-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. 

“We must continue to push forward with carbon pollution reductions to ensure a healthy future for ourselves and our children. There’s no time to waste.”


For more information, please contact:

Peter McCartney | Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
(778) 239-1935,
Talal Wolf | Communications Coordinator, Sustainabiliteens
(604) 500-0411,

Pamela Daoust | Communications Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

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