Kingston Ignores National Climate Change Goals

Tomorrow, December 1, Kingston City Council will almost certainly approve an extremely flawed Transportation Master Plan. At its November 17 meeting,  Council heard from climate change expert Dr. Warren Mabee. Dr. Mabee explained why this TMP puts Kingston in flagrant disregard for even the Harper government’s low targets for greenhouse gas reduction.

Kingston has the highest per capita vehicle emissions in Canada. Yes folks, this is true. We put out 3035 kilograms of carbon dioxide PER PERSON in this city, compared say to Montreal where they put out 1219 kg per person, or even St. John’s or Trois-Rivieres, other small centres without subway systems that have a far far lower carbon footprint than Kingston (see Stats Can, Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Private Vehicles in Canada, 1990 to 2007).

Dr. Mabee explained that to meet the Harper targets on Greenhouse Gas reduction, the average Kingston family of four has to drop their total annual car transportation by 2000 to 8000 km per year.

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Another speaker at Council that night, Roger Healey, pointed out that the only way to achieve such a reduction is to make active and public transportation the most convenient choice: safe, easy, and inexpensive. The KTMP Council will consider and almost surely approve tomorrow, December 1, does not do this. Instead it sets the stage for sprawl by emphasizing bridges and roads.

Where does Kingston get off thinking it doesn’t have to do its part to reduce greenhouse gases? We want people to know we’re a special place, but couldn’t we find other things to be proud of instead of being the biggest auto emissions producer in the land?

— Laura Murray

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7 thoughts on “Kingston Ignores National Climate Change Goals

  1. Thanks for this article Laura. What are your thoughts on the TMP amendments put forward by the Mayor? Councillor Allen has just forwarded them to me (unfortunately I’m unable to copy them here) Do you think they go far enough?

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    • The presumptions of the plan are not challenged by the mayor’s amendments… Preston explains how you have to follow the dollars too… unchanged by the amendments… and the amendments propose an “aspirational” target for transit… how about just a target?

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    • We know it’s expensive and perhaps politically unpalatable to go back to the drawing board — so how about a motion that says “THAT the AECOM 2015 KTMP report is unsatisfactory in that it prioritizes unsustainable transportation options without properly considering the true costs” or something like that? It’s important for future councils to be made to remember that this plan was not actually ENDORSED. It was paid for, and read, but it is not to be taken as representative of the current Council’s views.

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    • and one more thing: the KTMP still leaves the Wellington Extension in our future, and requires an updated Environmental Assessment for it after the Secondary Planning exercise now underway — even though we were assured that the Secondary Planning exercise could conceivably challenge the necessity of the extension. If we were to focus on the WSE specifically as a symbolic battle-line here (there are so many other problematic plans in the KTMP, but it is after all the focus of WellingtonX), we could imagine an amendment that replaces the current KTMP recommendation (“that a Class EA update study be undertaken once the Secondary Plan is complete to assess/confirm the project need and to identify any changes to potential impacts”) with this instead: “THAT a Class EA update for the Wellington Street Extension be deferred until the secondary plan for the north Kingstown area is completed and only done at that time if the secondary plan indicates its necessity.”

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  2. There seems to be a bit of a conflcited message from Wellington X and others at times. Almost everyone would agree with this piece that there is a need to reduce emissions, active transportation, reduce sprawl, higher density. But doing that would mean things like devloping the tannery property to a high density, and buildings like “that capital”, which seems to be opposed. Using the environment on the surface to disguise nimyism isn’t going to be taken seriously

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    • Hi there. You are right that this is a complex balance and politically difficult. WellingtonX doesn’t have a position on the Capitol condos. As for the tannery developments, as I recall our concern was to protect the waterfront (which is one of our reasons for challenging the WSE) — we are not against all forms of development by any means. I would say for my part (this is Laura speaking) that we are in favour of forms of densification that are as little car-reliant as possible, and that preserve public space and enable active transportation. Does that make sense?

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