Vancouver eyes up to $1,000 pollution fee on vehicles

Pollution fee considered

The City of Vancouver has put forward a motion to hit high-emitting, gas-powered vehicles with an annual pollution charge of up to $1,000 and roll out a citywide residential parking fee.

The two-part initiative, dubbed the “Climate Emergency Parking Program,” is expected to curb between seven and 14 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and affect up to 150,000 residents.

Emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles currently make up just under 40 per cent of the city’s carbon output — city staff said the plan will put Vancouver on track to follow measures rolled out in cities like Montreal and Sydney, Australia.

The first part of the program would charge an annual pollution fee on high-emitting vehicles — such as luxury sedans and pickup trucks — manufactured in 2023 and beyond. Vehicles emitting 225 grams of CO2 per kilometre or more would pay $1,000 every year.

New moderately polluting vehicles, like sporty sedans and more efficient SUVs, would pay $500 per year; new low-polluting vehicles, like hybrids and “most economy vehicles” that produce less than 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre, will not pay.

Any specialized vehicles for wheelchairs as well as those built in 2022 or earlier would be exempt from the fee.

About 10 per cent of the city’s residential streets already require parking permits of up to $500 every year.

The second part of the new parking plan would regulate neighbourhoods not currently under such a residential parking scheme. Any resident who wants to park on the street in a currently unregulated neighbourhood would be charged a $45 annual fee.

Overnight visitors, meanwhile, would pay a $3-a-night fee that can be paid through the PayByPhone app or at a nearby meter. After consulting the public, staff pushed forward the start of overnight parking by two hours so that it runs from midnight to 7 a.m. The motion proposes that daytime parking doesn’t change.

There are some exceptions. Low-income households will be offered a discounted $5 rate, and any care workers providing overnight services would be eligible to purchase an annual pass, even if they don’t live in Vancouver.

Residential overnight parking permits would be available for purchase online, on the phone by calling 311, or in person.

Staff recommends those caught without a permit be fined $100 per infraction, the same fine handed out in neighbourhoods that already regulate parking.

According to a staff motion submitted to council Wednesday, the parking scheme would have a startup cost of $1.7 million and an annual operating budget of $1 million.

That money is expected to be easily recouped with revenue generated from the two-part plan.

The program is designed to push residents to choose low- or zero-emitting vehicles.

Based on modelling, staff say it is expected to have a “significant impact on carbon pollution in Vancouver.”

In addition to reducing air and carbon pollution by up to 14 per cent, the two-part plan is expected to generate between $44 million and $72 million between 2022 and 2025.

That money could be used to fund roughly a quarter of the goals adopted under the city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.

In the lead up to the motion to council, the parking scheme went through a final stage of public consultation.

Of the nearly 19,000 people who took part in a public survey — one of the biggest turnouts in the city's history — a strong majority were opposed to both parts of the parking plan. Over 70 per cent disagreed with the pollution charge and 80 per cent disagreed with the plan to roll out a citywide overnight permit plan.

Council is expected to vote on the motion Oct. 5. If it passes, staff say the two-part parking plan could launch in January 2022.

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