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Moving Forward, Not Backward: A Regional Agenda for Caring, Low-Carbon Communities After Covid-19 PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Written by Joan Russow
Monday, 11 May 2020 19:36
May 2020
This Solutions Statement was developed with input from more than
a hundred people representing dozens of community organizations,
in a collaborative policy-development process in April 2020
facilitated by Common Vision, Common Action.
Common Vision, Common Action is a grassroots initiative in
British Columbia's Capital Region, Coastal Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth Territory,
to create and implement a regional agenda for social and ecological justice.
To get involved or provide feedback on this Solutions Statement,
please contact us at contact@commonaction.
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the private enterprise economy in
British Columbia’s capital region – how a temporary shift in consumer spending habits and
government policy can immediately result in unemployment and economic insecurity for tens of
thousands of working people in the region, and the closure of thousands of businesses.
The pandemic has also demonstrated enduring sources of strength, including the natural human
inclinations toward co-operation, care, compassion and the rendering of mutual aid.
Finally, the pandemic has demonstrated ecological benefits arising from reduced impacts from
human activity on the atmosphere and on fragile ecosystems, with substantial reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), which contribute to climate change, and nitrogen dioxide
(NO2), which impacts air quality and human health. Natural ecosystems are already
demonstrating signs of recovery within the very short timeframe of declining economic activity.
As we look ahead to the post-Covid-19 recovery, and begin to consider the measures that
individuals, communities and public and private institutions can take, it is worth considering
retaining elements of the Covid crisis response on a steady-state basis, to respond effectively to
three major crises that pre-dated Covid-19 in BC’s capital region and beyond:
(1) the Climate and Ecological Crisis: which threatens the ability of species including
humans to survive on planet Earth long term if greenhouse-gas emissions are not reduced
sufficiently to keep historic global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial
(2) the Inequality Crisis: which leaves thousands of people in the capital region, and
more than a billion people globally, lacking access to the basic necessities of life, including
secure housing and healthy food, while other segments of the regional and global
population have hoarded wealth and resources far in excess of what can be consumed in
a person’s lifetime; and
(3) the Opioid and Overdose Crisis, which has resulted in the untimely death of an
estimated 5,000 people in British Columbia, 15,000 people in Canada and 500,000
globally since 2016.
The capital region is also confronted with the ongoing impacts of Colonization, which has
resulted in dispossession of Indigenous lands and disruption of Indigenous laws, culture,
subsidence practices and governance systems, leaving Indigenous communities particularly
vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic and the associated social and economic crises.
Faced with the ongoing threat of the Climate and Ecological Crisis, the Inequality Crisis and the
Opioid and Overdose Crisis, and the ongoing impacts of Colonization, it is imperative that
individuals, communities and public and private institutions act now to implement the
following measures to retain Caring, Low-Carbon Communities in the post-Covid-19 world.
Local Measures for Caring, Local-Carbon Communities
1. Endorse the following principles as the basis for post-Covid-19 economic recovery
(a) The goal of economic activity is to meet the core needs of all, living within the limits of
Earth’s life-support systems, while caring for one another and caring for the planet.
(b) Recovery efforts must align with recognition of human rights including Indigenous rights,
with a focus on advancing equity, redistributing power and wealth, and eliminating
systemic barriers to living full, safe and healthy lives, which are disproportionately faced
by Indigenous people, women, people of colour, people living in poverty, people with
disabilities, people with precarious immigration status, newcomers, refugees, people from
ethno-cultural minority backgrounds and LGBTQ2S people.
2. Maintain a permanent reduction in retail and commercial sales of gasoline and
other fossil fuels, to ensure that GHG reductions arising from the Covid-19 shutdown
are retained on a steady-state basis in BC’s capital region, through the following
(a) Retain the current fare-free public transit program on a 1-year trial basis.
(b) Deploy the existing BC Transit fleet with maximum service hours for bus and
handyDart to substantially improve service and equity, alongside fast-tracking the
purchase of new buses and expansion of fleet maintenance facilities.
c) Immediately implement transit priority such as bus lanes on existing roads, to
increase transit capacity, speed and reliability at peak periods.
d) Substantially increase public investment in sidewalks, crosswalks and cycling
infrastructure in all areas, to support active transportation, public health and economic
stimulus, including road closures to create pedestrian greenways within
(e) Rapidly phase out the installation of new fossil-fuel heating systems in residential,
commercial and institutional properties, and expand rebate programs for zero-
emissions heating systems, solar power and other sustainable technologies, including
front-end rebates to ensure equity.
(f) Initiate a major program of energy and seismic retrofits for existing residential,
commercial and institutional buildings, to pursue energy efficiency, seismic resilience,
work-from-home capability and economic stimulus.
3. Ensure every person can live with security and dignity with access to the basic
necessities of life, including housing, food, clean water, sanitation, health services,
education, recreation and culture, through the following measures:
(a) Permanently convert a portion of the regional supply of transient accommodation
(hotels, motels and short-term rental units) into residential housing, with supports as
necessary appropriate to individual needs.
(b) Expand construction of purpose-built, energy-efficient nonmarket housing with
supports appropriate to individual needs, to ensure a person’s housing costs do not
exceed 30 per cent of their gross income.
(c) Maintain access to safer supply and supervised consumption services for people
managing addictions, as part of a general policy of harm reduction and decriminalization,
(d) Facilitate a major expansion of childcare facilities and services, advocating to senior
levels of government for proper training and compensation for early childhood educators.
(e) Support the regeneration of Indigenous food systems and revitalization of
Indigenous land-management practices, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples
and communities.
(f) Increase regional food security by implementing a Regional Farmland Trust without
delay, to protect and ensure active use of the agricultural land base for food production,
with encouragement for organic, regenerative and low-emissions farming methods, fair
labour standards and increased access to healthy food for low-income people.
(g) Expand municipal support for food production on private and public land, including
distribution of gardening materials including soil, plants and educational resources.
(h) Maintain and expand a high-quality network of natural areas, trails and recreational
facilities throughout the region, including wilderness areas, parks, playgrounds and
fitness facilities.
(i) Develop a long-term strategy to diversify the regional economy beyond the
tourism sector, including expanding low-carbon and co-operative sectors of the
(j) Introduce permanent income-support and funding programs to sustain Arts and
Culture and promote community-building / cultural activities and facilities, through joint
action by all levels of government.
4. Advocate to the Provincial and Federal governments to support Caring, Low-
Carbon Communities through the following measures:
(a) Provide financial and regulatory support for the programs and actions identified
(b) Increase public revenues through the immediate introduction of a Wealth Tax, levied
on a progressive basis on personal and corporate assets, a more progressive Income
Tax and closing loopholes that allow Canadians to take advantage of tax havens.
(c) Focus economic recovery stimulus spending on building a robust non-market
housing system, integrated with health and social care, to permanently end
homelessness and to ensure that everyone has access to housing and supports.
(d) Support expansion of the low-carbon sectors of our economy, including caregiving,
health and wellness, education, and arts and culture, to foster strong, resilient
(e) Support working people, economic stimulus and climate action by investing immediately
in the electrification and expansion of local, regional and national inter-city rail and
bus networks, under public ownership, operation and control, including bus priority
lanes, LRT and other modes.
(f) Support Indigenous people and communities to rapidly improve health, housing,
water and social service systems, in a manner consistent with Indigenous rights, title and
(g) Increase income-support programs for unemployed people, low-income people,
people with disabilities, senior citizens and people with precarious immigration
status through joint action by all levels of government to a level that allows a person to
live with security and dignity.
(h) Increase protections and security for working people including provision of a
Living Wage and appropriate social security programs, with a focus on
precariously employed workers, migrant workers, farm workers and workers who lack the
protection and benefits provided by a collective bargaining relationship with employers.
(i) Grant permanent residency status, or a pathway, or access to rights and benefits as
workers and residents, to people with precarious immigration status, who have been
rendered invisible in Covid-19 response efforts.
(j) Embrace a permanent policy of clean energy and “Keeping the Carbon in the Ground”,
through the following measures:
i. Fund the retraining of energy workers and others in the clean energy
ii. Provide transitional income support for energy workers and communities
currently dependent on the oil and gas sector.
iii. Support renewable energy sources and enhanced storage and delivery
systems to convert to all-electric power usage, prioritizing community-based and
community-led energy solutions.
iv. Withhold regulatory approval and public investment for all new fossil-fuel
projects, including oil and gas pipelines and wells, and immediately halt the Trans-
Mountain and Coastal Gaslink projects, which are detrimental to the environment
and to the economy.
v. Divest from the fossil-fuel industry and end all public subsidies, including
current subsidies and any stimulus packages to oil and gas companies.
vi. Mandate the decommissioning and clean-up of existing well sites.
(k) Retain emissions reductions in the aviation sector and other high carbon-emissions
sectors by immediately introducing Carbon Budgeting, increasing the Carbon Tax and
introducing the Permanent Rationing of GHG Emissions from Aviation, allocated on
a per-capita, annual basis, with applications for exemptions considered on the basis of
need by a federal Office of GHG Emissions Rationing.
(l) Transition immediately to sustainable management of second-growth forests for
carbon sequestration and biological diversity, including value-added production and
legislated protection of old-growth forests and other sensitive habitat, with a just
transition for impacted workers and communities.
(m) Demonstrate care for the natural environment that sustains us all.
This Solutions Statement was developed with input from more than
a hundred people representing dozens of community organizations,
in a collaborative policy-development process in April 2020
facilitated by Common Vision, Common Action.
Common Vision, Common Action is a grassroots initiative in
British Columbia's Capital Region, Coastal Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth Territory,
to create and implement a regional agenda for social and ecological justice.
To get involved or provide feedback on this Solutions Statement,
please contact us at contact@commonaction.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:39

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