Creating Complete, Compact and Energy-Efficient Communities in BC: How Fiscal Tools Can Be An Opportunity For Local Governments

Urban sprawl costs society greatly. Increased traffic congestion, carbon emissions, air pollution, and land degradation cost the economy tens of billions of dollars every year. For these and other reasons, 180 local governments in British Columbia and the Islands Trust have signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter, pledging, among other things, to work to create complete, compact, more energy-efficient communities. Many local governments across B.C. have adopted formal goals of boosting density and restraining sprawl within their Regional Growth Strategies, Regional Sustainability Strategies, and Official Community Plans.

This research paper is intended to assist the provincial and local governments of British Columbia (B.C.), citizens, civil society organizations and other stakeholders in expanding the conversation on the tools available for local governments to create complete, compact, and energy-efficient communities. Its focus is on fiscal tools to reduce sprawl, increase density, and support a reduction in car dependency, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper examines those tools presently available to local governments, and those that could be available through changes in legislative powers.

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About the Project

The goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment by exploring the linkages between changes in our natural capital and our measures of productivity generally, and through the construction of an environmentally adjusted measure of productivity specifically.

While it is now commonly accepted that economic activity and the state of our environment are linked, many economic measures still fail to incorporate the environment – both the things we draw from it and the pollution we release into it. By developing and calculating measures of productivity that include natural capital, Canada may be able to better understand these linkages. This, in turn, may lead to the identification of strategies that can help Canada become more efficient and innovative in the use and protection of natural capital, and thus more productive and more prosperous.

Using the forestry sector as a case study, this project aims to construct an environmentally adjusted measure of multifactor productivity. In doing so, we aim to add another layer of understanding to the environmental and economic performance of this sector. The proposed measure will have relevance to the Canadian economy as a whole.