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LETTER: Increased density supports fight against climate change

I write to take issue with a letter published in Saanich News on Aug. 25. The writer asks “why do the mayors of Victoria and Saanich … claim that increased residential city development actually decreases greenhouse gas emissions?”

She suggests that greenhouse gas emissions will be increased by increasing density in Victoria, as if greenhouse gas emissions are a city-by-city issue. Greenhouse gases are an issue without borders, and are best measured on a per-capita basis. Making cities enclaves of single-family dwellings means that the people who work there are driven out into the suburbs. If the people who work in Victoria live in town, instead of in the West Shore or up the Malahat, then the region’s overall greenhouse gas emissions will go down.

While the writer pointed out that cities produce 70 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions, I would like to point out that 82 per cent of Canadians live in cities, therefore people who live in cities produce less greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Cities can support bike lanes, walking and transit systems. The high-rise developments that she decries take much less per resident to heat than houses and can efficiently incorporate many other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (think of the ease of mail delivery and waste collection). Plus, real people can afford to live in high-rises, compared to now only millionaires being able to afford a detached house in Victoria.

Victoria and Saanich need density, and that means high-rises – and I say this as the owner of a single-family dwelling. I accept that most of the teenagers and young adults on this street will not be able to afford a home like this. I want them to be able to live close to family and in the city they grew up in if they want. This will require high-rises, and I’m OK with that even if it means my neighborhood changes, even if my house must be torn down.

We might have to lose our unobstructed views and yards to save the planet and house our neighbors’ children, and I’m OK with that.

Mary Stocks