The sooner the better on ending sprawl
It’s good that we are finally having a much needed conversation about urban sprawl in Cowichan. We’re off to a rocky start, though.
There is no policy defence for sprawl. It’s bad for local taxes because it’s the most expensive kind of development to build and service. It’s bad for the climate because it locks in car dependence. And, it’s even bad for our health since it promotes sedentary lifestyles.
So why is there such an outcry when a local government proposes to do something about it? Mostly it’s because financial expectations have been built around ongoing sprawl and it’s understandably difficult to shift those expectations.
But to mis-characterize this shift as being “closed for business” helps nobody. The CVRD estimates we’ll have at least 25,000 newcomers to the valley by 2050, by which time scientists tell us we need to have reached net zero emissions. The only way we are going to achieve those goals is by being open for business in a different way — by building dense, walk-able and bike-able communities well served by transit.
There are economic opportunities and new jobs in this kind of shift, in what some characterize as a “green new deal.” The sooner that our local governments in Cowichan act on ending sprawl and putting in place the conditions for dense development close to services, the sooner we can move past divisive debates and get on with building the future we need.