Development moratorium could halt urban sprawl

Urban sprawl is the single biggest local climate issue.

Development moratorium could halt urban sprawl

There is a strange disconnect between two pieces that ran in the same issue of the Citizen. The first one rightly asks whether the tragic fires in Australia will galvanize the world into action on the climate crisis. But the second then criticizes North Cowichan for considering putting the brakes on urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl is the single biggest local climate issue. The CVRD estimates that 72 per cent of our emissions come from transportation, and that’s because we take 90 per cent of our trips in personal vehicles — and more accurately mostly in SUVs and trucks given current consumer preferences.

These stats are driven by our urban form, and by the fact that successive councils have approved developments where residents really have no good choice other than to get in their vehicles to do anything. The building now underway towards Maple Bay is a good example of this.

The North Cowichan proposal would limit new approvals of such sprawl until a new OCP is done. North Cowichan recently acknowledged the climate emergency, and such a measure is entirely consistent with that acknowledgement.

The answer to both the climate crisis and the affordable housing crisis is for local governments to prioritize multi-story developments as close to services as possible and to end sprawl entirely. That also happens to be a more fiscally responsible option since sprawl costs the most to service.

Valerie Russell

North Cowichan

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