As the council considers what direction to take the city on a number of issues, I think that potential impacts on our most vulnerable residents must be taken into consideration.
For example, transportation policy at all levels of government has been aimed at getting people out of their cars and onto public transportation systems. Environmental concerns have largely been the driver behind these policies, lacking consideration of the impacts created by these policies.
Times are changing. With access to electric vehicles increasing daily coupled with evolving technology that allows for increasingly cleaner methods of electricity generation, it is time to pause and reevaluate. In many studies, we are learning that there is a direct correlation between access to a private vehicle and financial success. Those with lower income are scrambling to stay afloat. Many challenges, such as a second job, therapy for children with disabilities, etc. require access to a car. Access to a vehicle is critical to being able to exit poverty and enter the middle class. Creating transportation policies that form barriers to driving can actually hold back our residents who may be on the verge of poverty or just barely getting by. Time is money, and anything that causes citizens to take longer to get to and from work ultimately costs them in the end.
The truth is, cars have been a tool for prosperity for people worldwide for decades now. Sensible transportation policy needs to center around creating the most efficient and effective ways to move goods to market and to get people, most of whom are in their own cars, to where they need to go.
The Vancouver City Council has been asked to consider a Climate Action Plan. We must leave the Earth in better shape than we found it, but when these policies are brought forth, our city leaders must study their ultimate impacts and unintended consequences. We cannot implement in a way that harms those who are struggling on a daily basis to make ends meet. We simply cannot trap families into perpetual poverty with these policies.
Similarly, housing is another huge issue that affects us all. If tax dollars are diverted to big developers under the guise of affordable housing, what happens to the people who lived in these neighborhoods before the new development? We cannot increase gentrification and the displacement of our more vulnerable citizens. If they are forced to move further away from their jobs, families, friends and support networks, how can we justify this? Again, does this help or harm in the end?
These are the kinds of questions I think our elected officials should be asking themselves whenever issues come up that could adversely affect people who are doing their very best to just scrape by.
I intend to be the kind of city councilor who works hard to help all of our residents be able to achieve the American Dream, and not support policies that could make life harder for those who can least afford it.