A local community cycling advocacy group is asking the City of Winnipeg to align municipal plans moving forward with climate change targets in step with the rest of Canada and the world.
Charles Feaver, a volunteer with Bike Winnipeg, says the group has submitted a lengthy criticism of a draft municipal planning document, OurWinnipeg 2045.
According to the city’s website, the document, "is the city’s 25-year development plan which is intended to guide everything the city does. It provides a vision, goals and policies intended to influence leadership and good governance, priority setting, delivery of city services, how residents get around in the city, and decisions about how the city grows."
The problem, Feaver says, is the planning document draft is built upon Winnipeg’s current climate targets, which are out of line with Canadian climate targets and international goals that hope to constrain global warming to 2 C above pre-industrial levels.
The City of Winnipeg aims to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2030 over 2011 levels, and by 80 per cent by 2050. Both targets fail to meet the thresholds needed to meet the Paris Agreement targets, or more ambitious targets that would constrain warming to 2 C.
By not properly defining climate goals, spending on transit and active transportation will fall short, Feaver said.
"Again, bicycling is like this sideshow. They’ll just do it some places to appease the ecologically minded people, but they won’t get in the way of drivers," he said.
Jurisdictions in other parts of the world are blowing Winnipeg’s active transportation plans out of the water by creating low-pollution zones, safer transit networks, even rebating car trade-ins for electric bicycles, as was proposed in France this week.
The concern isn’t isolated to the OurWinnipeg 2045 planning document, but also a second draft document currently being written up, Complete Communities 2.0, which looks more at how neighbourhoods will develop in the city going forward.
"When you read it, you realize (city planners) think people will get out of their cars because they live in a complete community. Well, I live in a complete community, I can walk to stores and so on. And I assure you, my neighbours use their cars. It’s still the most convenient way to get around," Feaver said.
Sarah Lawrynuik reported on climate change for the Winnipeg Free Press.