November 2, 2004 : Is It Inevitable That Population Growth In Canada’s Largest Centres Continue Unabated?

(The Evidence For Weapons of Mass Destruction = The Evidence For Mass Immigration)

On Saturday, October 30, The Vancouver Sun published four articles on the future of Greater Vancouver. One of the four (“Future of Vancouver Is Bleak”) was a front page article and is reprinted below. All four articles focussed on a projected 1 million increase in the area’s population over the next 30 years. That would bring Greater Vancouver’s population to about
3.2 million.

The articles featured interviews with prominent politicians and others. As usual, some wrung their hands about the future and some opened their arms to it.

Curiously enough, all of the people involved, including the reporters, assumed that adding another 1 million people to the area was inevitable. Also assumed to be inevitable were the billions to be spent on accommodating the extra million people and the general degradation and pinching of the living space, etc.

The big question that has to be asked is this: “Is it really inevitable that the Greater Vancouver area grow by 1 million over the next 30 or so years? (All Canadians have to ask this question, especially those in Canada’s larger population centres. This issue is not just Vancouver’s.)

So what’s the answer?

The blunt and truthful answer is “No”. To see why, it might help to look at the population increase in the Greater Vancouver area over the past 15 years. In that time, the population grew by close to 800,000 (strangely near the 1 million figure projected but in half the 30 years!!, a fact that should cause major re-thinking and alarm). It might also help to look at what caused that population growth in the past. In the 1991-96 period, immigration accounted for 83% of the population growth (Stats Can). The major factor in the years leading up to 1991 may have been slightly different, but in the post-1996 time frame, immigration has been the main factor. In fact, for the past few years, immigration has accounted for well over half of the entire country’s population growth (Stats Can). In other words, if the fedral government had wanted to control population growth in the past 15 years, it could have done so very easily by reducing immigration levels.

Similarly, the federal government can control much of Vancouver’s (as well as the entire country’s) future population growth by reducing immigration.

Canada’s current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has recently announced a projected immigrant intake of up to 245,000 for 2005. The current federal Minister of Labour recently proposed doubling that figure. Like others, the latter character has claimed that Canada needs skilled workers.

So, the next question we should be asking is this:”Where is the evidence that Canada needs 240,000 to 500,000 immigrants per year?”

The blunt answer to this question is that there is no evidence. A long line of Immigration Ministers (and political bedfellows) has claimed many benefits, and has tried to stampede the public into accepting what they say. But federal government research has contradicted their claims.

In effect, the evidence for claims that Canada needs mass immigration is as non-existent as the evidence for the Bush government’s claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A large number of Canadians self-righteously wag their fingers at Americans for being duped into believing the arguments about weapons for mass destruction. Yet these same Canadians have been duped by their own government’s arguments for mass immigration.

If successive Canadian governments had practised some basic integrity rather than deception, Canada would never have begun the mass immigration policy it announced about 15 years ago. Canada’s main population centres would also not have to deal with the environmental, economic and cultural issues that they are faced with today and will continue to face in the future.

There is an inevitability to our individual deaths, but there is nothing inevitable to the environmental degradation of Canada’s major population centres, the disposing of Canada’s 2 million unemployed and the cultural displacement that is well under way.

These three disasters are planned policies. For environmental, economic and cultural reasons, these policies have to go. If the planners of these policies refuse to throw out these policies, then they too have to go.


Without change, city’s future looks bleak The Vancouver Sun

Sun News Services

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Greater Vancouver has a choice between futures as it grows by a million souls in the next 30 years, and experts say we’re currently headed for the dark alternative: a sprawling, polluted city choking on its own traffic, its economy gone stagnant.
Planners, politicians and academics say there is still time to make sure that three decades from now, Vancouver remains one of the world’s most livable cities.

But we will have to get serious about extending rapid transit and increasing our population density, and we may have to leave behind the 1950s dream of spacious suburban living.

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell said the next decade is critical in shaping the region’s future, and rapid transit is the key.
“I foresee the day when it’s perhaps pushed out through Surrey to Langley, maybe to Abbotsford,” Campbell said. “But I think it’s critical that we start looking at getting people off the No. 1 Highway and into rapid transit.”

That means pushing density higher to make the economics of rapid transit work, and higher density means more of us will live in homes on smaller lots, in townhouses and walk-ups, and in housing clustered around town centres with transit service, said Dave Biggs, co-founder of Envision Sustainability Tools.

Biggs’ company markets software that graphically illustrates how a city or region will develop, depending on what policy choices are made. It shows that, as of now, Greater Vancouver is losing the battle, with so much dispersed suburban development being approved that can’t be served by transit. That means we will be forced to build ever more roads, leading to more congestion and pollution and eating up the region’s green space.

Greater Vancouver is “a fabulous place” now and planners from all over North America study neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s West End to find out how to make them livable at high densities, said Andrew Ramlo of Urban Futures Inc., a Vancouver strategic planning research firm.

But the region is under pressure to keep making decisions that lead to sprawl, Ramlo said, and unless we change directions, “there’s going to be a heck of a lot more cars on the road. People are going to spend more and more time getting from place A to place B.”
Urban Futures predicts Greater Vancouver will be home to three million people by 2030 and 3.2 million people by 2040, compared with about 2.2 million today.

(key to stories inside. should key to bill boei package and the douglas todd package — both in Observer) Also See: Dreaming a dream of B.C. Observer, C1; The region’s duelling futures, C2-C3