01/10/2017 03:40 EST | Updated 01/10/2017 10:26 EST

Old Man Winter Slays Mayor Gregor's Green Vancouver


Like many of us, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is a Games of Thrones fan. We know this because the TV show's new episodes last spring were listed in his official city hall calendar, as obtained via a Freedom of Information request by reporter Bob Mackin.

But while Robertson spent his spring Sunday nights obsessing over whether Lord Snow would return (oh the irony), it seems he missed the most important message of all: winter is coming.

Fast forward to 2017 and, indeed, winter has come to Robertson's Vancouver. And the city's lack of preparation has become its own sort of George R.R. Martin epic. The land is frozen under a thick layer of snow and ice. Travel has become treacherous. Hundreds swarmed local fire halls like white walkers, trying to get some free salt. Other nearby kingdoms rejected Robertson's emissaries and their pleas for more precious salt.

It's clear the public wants big trucks out there, plowing our roads and spraying brine.

Of course, the #saltcrisis in #Icecouver will pass (yes, those phrases really trended on Twitter). The snow and ice will melt, or be washed away by rain. Most Vancouverites will grab a sack of salt the next time they see one, and store it away until the next winter blast.

But for Robertson, this blast of icy weather should cause him to rethink his natural gas ban and other parts of his Greenest City vision.

It's clear the public wants big trucks out there, plowing our roads and spraying brine. These are vehicles that even Greenest City true believer Sadhu Johnston says must exist. "There's a lot of demand for bigger vehicles that can't go electric based on today's technology. Heavy-duty vehicles are a huge mind bender for us," the city manager told Vox.

Yet, Robertson's plan calls for big trucks to magically stop putting out greenhouse gas emissions. The only way that can happen is for them to cease to exist.

Walking is at the top of the Greenest City plan's preferred transportation modes, yet clearing sidewalks and paths was barely an afterthought compared to roads and bike lanes. Many sidewalks -- including ones for which the city was responsible -- were impassable for days.

vancouver snow

A woman pushes a stroller on an ice-covered street in Vancouver on Jan. 3. (Photo: Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

It's worth noting, too, that road salt runs off into streams, the ocean and into groundwater. But one suspects that won't show up in the mayor's next Greenest City self-congratulatory slideshow.

The biggest concern for residents should be Robertson's foolish plan to ban natural gas. He wants to doom 180,000 households and businesses to far more expensive heating bills by moving them to electricity or so-called "renewable" natural gas -- which will either take a few Site C dam-size power projects or a bunch of new landfills to produce. Either way, banning natural gas will cost its residents hundreds of dollars more in energy costs during cold weather.

Robertson hates that word "ban." However, when a government uses legislation and regulation to stop an activity, it's a ban.

Once the snow melts and life returns to normal, the heating bills will arrive. Many Vancouver residents may experience sticker shock at the cost of the natural gas and electricity they consumed this month to stay warm. But that's nothing compared to what the cost will be if Robertson gets his way.  

Vancouver taxpayers should contact city councillors and ask them to rethink the natural gas ban. It will do nothing to stop climate change or make life more affordable; it's only purpose is to give Robertson a political legacy.

Winter will come again and again and again, Mayor Robertson, and residents need to be able to afford to keep heating their homes and businesses every season.

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