ABC Majority Does Last-Minute Strike and Replace on Carr's Motion to Eliminate Hazardous Methane Gas from Vancouver Homes

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Green Councillor Adriane Carr’s motion to eliminate dangerous methane gas from all new residential buildings was rejected today by the conservative majority on Council when ABC’s Sarah Kirby-Yung tabled a last-minute strike and replace amendment on Carr’s motion. The ABC Mayor and Councillors voted lock-step in support of the strike-and-replace motion. The two Green Councillors voted against.

“First, let me say that despite the offer of Mayor Ken Sim to work as a collaborative team across party lines, it’s hardly collaborative to table a last-minute strike-and-replace motion without a word of advance notice,” said Carr. “It’s also irresponsible in terms of the climate crisis and known impacts on children’s health, to leave open the potential to build more gas infrastructure for methane gas stoves in new Vancouver homes.” 

Carr's motion sought to eliminate all gas hook-ups in new residential buildings, Kirby-Yung’s amendment instead instructed staff to align Vancouver’s Building By-law with BC’s new Zero Carbon Step Code, which unfortunately allows the choice to install new gas infrastructure for methane stoves in new homes. 

The ABC amendment also replaced Councillor Carr’s direction to staff to pursue policies and timelines for zero emission retrofits of existing buildings that phase out as quickly as possible the use of gas for cooking and fireplaces with direction to consider equity impacts that may affect cultural and equity-denied groups.

“I have no problem with considering equity and cultural impacts,” said Carr. “But it shouldn’t replace the goal of zero emission retrofits. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists couldn’t have been more clear in their March, 2023 Update for Policy-Makers: time has run out for delaying action on drastically reducing carbon emissions.”

While the Vancouver Building Bylaw (VBBL) already prohibits the use of gas for heating and hot water in new buildings, it still allows gas infrastructure connections for appliances like stoves and ornamental fireplaces. Carr's motion sought to eliminate all gas hook-ups in new homes. 

"Methane gas is hazardous for both our health and the planet," stated Carr, expressing frustration with her ABC colleagues. "It is disheartening to see the conservative majority on Council vote against progress, science, and the best long-term interests of Vancouver residents.”

Carr further emphasized the true nature of the "natural" gas piped into Vancouver homes, which is over 90 percent methane gas from fracking. Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas with catastrophic climate effects. Recent studies have revealed that methane gas has more than 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide within the first 20 years of its release. Additionally, using methane gas indoors poses significant health risks, especially for young children.

"Children, in particular, are susceptible to the hazardous health effects of methane, including respiratory issues, asthma, headaches, dizziness, and nausea," Carr added. "As elected officials, we have a duty to protect Vancouver residents, especially our children."

“My motion would have eliminated the need for gas hookups in new residential buildings, by reducing building costs, permit processes, and construction timelines, as gas lines would no longer be necessary.

"While I prioritize the environment and tackling global warming as a Green, my motion primarily aimed to create safer homes for the people of Vancouver. This issue is too crucial to abandon," Carr concluded. "I will persistently advocate for methane-free homes until ABC comprehends the gravity of the situation.” 

Councillor Carr and the Green Party of Vancouver remain committed to forging an alliance comprising health professionals, the public, the scientific community, environmental organizations, and concerned parents. The goal is to generate sufficient public pressure to eliminate dangerous methane gas from Vancouver homes. The Green Party of Vancouver is circulating a petition to gather support, while Carr plans to reintroduce motions on this issue annually until they are passed by Council.


Ensuring Healthier Climate-Smart Homes

Green Party of Vancouver petition to get methane gas out of Vancouver homes

Photo by Kwon Junho