UBC Graduate Research

Exploring the Development Cost Charge Framework for Active Transportation Infrastructure in British Columbia Beaudry, Ryan


Human transportation patterns have been linked to excessive greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. Unsustainable levels of GHGs are contributing to global climate change, a phenomena which has a range of negative human and environmental impacts. In recognition of the looming threat, governments around the world, including the Province of British Columbia, are introducing legislation aimed to reduce GHGs. In B.C., local governments are required to set greenhouse gas reduction targets and identify measures to pursue them in their comprehensive plans. In order to meet their targets, B.C. local governments should consider focusing on their most polluting sectors, one of which is transportation. Studies have shown that transportation is the foremost contributor to provincial GHGs. A promising way in which local governments can reduce GHGs from transportation is to promote active modes of travel. Research shows that increases in walking and cycling can result in decreased motor vehicle use and resultant emissions. To stimulate this type of shift, B.C. local governments should consider providing their residents with adequate hard infrastructure facilities, including separated paths, bicycle boulevards and bike lanes. A municipal finance tool available to local governments to help fund these types of investments is development cost charges (DCCs). While DCCs can be, and are used for active transportation infrastructure in B.C., the current framework derived from the Local Government Act (LGA) and Provincial DCC Best Practices Guide is vague and ambiguous. A distinct lack of guidance has produced a number of obstacles for local governments. Municipalities who have successfully implemented active transportation DCC programs have done so largely though experimentation and broad interpretation of the LGA provisions. Moving forward, more clarity and guidance with respect to active transportation is desired both by those charging DCCs (local governments) and those paying them (developers). To ensure the power of the DCC tool is fully leveraged for provincial GHG reduction purposes, the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development should consider a review of their DCC protocols as well as an update to the LGA and/or DCC Best Practices Guide.

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