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.