ALISTAIR MACGREGOR: More roads are not the solution to region’s gridlock

The time is now for the long-term solutions to combat climate change

If there is something we can all agree on, it is that climate change and its effects are devastating to the planet. The time is now for the long-term solutions we need to face the greatest challenge of our time.

The first problem we deal with is when it comes to funding priorities for combatting climate change; the federal government always seems to come up short. However, this has not stopped us from subsidising the oil and gas industries to the tune of billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

During the recent Conservative government’s time in power, funding was cut to home retrofits, protections were removed from our lakes and rivers, and environmental protection and standards took a back seat to the chasing of an oil-fuelled economic development policy.

The Liberals have signalled a change of tone, but we have yet to see any major change on the climate front. We need firm targets and accountability put in legislation to make sure that governments follow through.

We must agree to regulate polluting industries and put a price on the carbon pollution that does immeasurable harm to our atmosphere. The federal government has the ability and responsibility to deal with this issue, and we have to make sure that they follow through on their promises.

One of the proven ways to combat climate change is to get out of our cars and travel by rail. An issue that Langford has been dealing with has been the shutdown of the E&N railway since 2011. There has been plenty of waiting since then, and now it is time for the Liberals to step up to the plate.

Not only is a fast and safe rail system great for the environment, it also dramatically lowers the stress of the morning commute. West Shore residents are intimately familiar with the pain of the drive to work every morning where most of their time is spent in snail’s pace traffic. Congested roads lead to time wasted, frustration, and excessive environmental pollution.

The idea that more roads can fix our traffic gridlock has been disproven all over the world. With more road space we just get more cars on the road. We need sustainable funding for climate change ready infrastructure projects.

Rebuilding the train line is clearly good policy and I know the City of Langford would like to see an effective and regularly running service to Victoria in return for the $1.5 million investment needed to maintain railway crossing infrastructure.

The E&N railway is not the ultimate solution to gridlock and combatting climate change, but it is an integral piece of the puzzle. There are a lot of moving parts at the regional and municipal level with the Island Corridor Foundation, but it is long past time to get firm funding commitments from the federal government for this project.

With your support, I will continue to fight in Parliament for infrastructure funding that will be beneficial to our residents and a climate change plan that commits Canada to the action we need.

Alistair MacGregor is the New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.