Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Here are my comments for a public hearing at Vancouer City Hall:

We who live in Vancouver often like to consider ourselves world leaders when it comes to environmental sustainability. Will the new South East False Creek development be a world leader in environmental sustainability?

There is no doubt that the planners and others that worked on this project have put a lot of hard work into it. It will undoubtedly be one of the most sustainable neighborhoods in the Lower Mainland and British Columbia. But will it be the a world leader? I have concerns that it may not be.

An example of a world class environmentally sustainable community being planned is Mata de Sesimbra in Portugal. It is part of the One World Living project.

There are two areas that I would like to emphasize when looking at the sustainability of SE False Creek.

The first is transportation. I think a large portion (if not all) of the community should be car-free. I know this sounds like a radical idea but in actual fact it is not. Many cities around the world have car free areas. The planned community in Portugal has a goal of zero automobile use in its urban areas. Even Toronto has a community of over 300 people where private cars are not allowed. Do we really want to be behind Toronto when it comes to sustainability?

The second issue I would like to address is renewable energy. I realize that there has been some discussion of renewable energy in SE False Creek. But I am afraid that this will become a suggestion that is not widely implemented. The community in Portugal has a goal of 100% renewable energy use.

Ground source heat pumps should be used in as much of the area as is physically possible. Solar hot water systems should be required on all buildings with good southern exposure. Both of these are cost effective technologies that are already in use in Vancouver. Photovoltaics are less cost effective but should be incorporated where it is feasible.

And what about a wind turbine? Normally the urban environment would not be suitable for traditional wind turbines. But the open spaces along the edge of false creek might be a good spot for a mid-sized turbine. Toronto has a large wind turbine on the edge of its downtown core. Again why are we behind Toronto?

I think Vancouver deserves the best. I hope that we will work to create an example of sustainability that really is one of the best in the world.

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