The Greenest City in Canada


Vancouver has announced that by 2020 it will be the greenest city in the world. This was the challenge launched in February 2009 by its mayor, who to achieve this, decided to run for a second municipal term on November 19th.

At first glance, the city in western Canada looks like any other metropolis with its highways, its traffic, its skyscrapers, its subway, parks and bike paths. Yet the city of almost 600 000 people is a great example of a sustainable development.

The mayor is pleased with the media coverage and says that “recognition confirms that we are on the right track”. The British weekly declared in 2011 that the Canadian city Vancouver was the greenest and second in North America after San Francisco.

Its strengths are: a low level of CO2 emissions per capita and many LEED certified buildings.

In this city where Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation were born it was said that “the solutions are in our nature”, the eco fiber, green spaces and roofs, bike lanes, compost, zero emission offices.

Environmental Thinking

The Ocean Wise program, which lists the species of endangered sea, was launched at the Vancouver Aquarium. The initiative led to the launch of a sustainable fisheries label adopted by hundreds of Canadian restaurants. The chef of the Listel, one of the major hotels in the city, says that his dishes are “100% sustainable in seafood.” The facility, equipped with solar panels, collecting organic waste in the rooms.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics “green” has left a legacy of energy-efficient sports facilities and a convention center with a green roof sustainable development model, the Olympic Village has transformed an old industrial site into a residential area.

The mayor spares no efforts to eduacate the people in a vast exercise of environmental thinking. He appealed to experts, including Vancouver’s David Suzuki, to identify ten key objectives to reach the goal by 2020: 33% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990, and eliminate 50% of waste sent to landfills or incinerated. Half of urban transport should be done on foot, by bike or public transport. Green jobs are expected to double and Vancouver has become “a Prime Example for green businesses”.

Some 9500 people participated in a referendum. The city collected their ideas, identified discussion groups and adopted a list of concrete actions. “The plan was adopted in July and 125 projects are being implemented, says, the head of enforcement official.

Some were launched quickly, as the creation of organic waste collection points or the green space: each inhabitant of Vancouver has to live within 5 minutes of one of them, according to one of the selected targets.

By 2020, all new buildings should be carbon neutral. Since September, says officials, we have been separating the licensing of deconstruction and construction. There are many contractors in Vancouver and they all have to follow special regulations to qualify for licenses. Other types of trades like plumbers in Vancouver also have to follow strict regulations. They have several weeks to demolish and recycle materials upon job completion.