B.C.’s biggest metropolis has been a hotbed of sustainability for decades, befit-ting the home of one of the world’s largest urban parks and the historic spot where Greenpeace was founded. Already recognised as having the smallest carbon footprint of any major city in North America, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson recently committed to making this “the world’s greenest city” by 2020. The initiative covers issues of sustainability, liveability and urban planning for residents and businesses and aims to implement programs that will make Vancouver an eco-pioneer and green beacon for communities around the world. For more information, see www.vancouver.ca/greencapital.
Vancouver is Canada’s greenest city, according to a 2011 report by the Econo-mist Intelligence Unit. The study, which also placed the city second in North America after San Francisco, praised Vancouver’s low carbon emissions, high number of LEED-certified buildings and the city’s extensive “greenest city” action plan.
Seafood is a Vancouver dining specialty, but not all aquatic dishes are created equally. Pioneered by Stanley Park’s Vancouver Aquarium and by innovative chefs across the region, the popular Ocean Wise (www.oceanwise.ca) initiative supports sustainable fishing practices, ensuring that the seafood on your restaurant table has been raised, sourced and supplied in an environmentally sound manner. Check menus for Ocean Wise designations and peruse the organization’s website for a list of participating establishments and a free downloadable iPhone app.
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Dozens of restaurants in Vancouver alone have signed on to the Ocean Wise conservation initiative. Consider a story highlighting the success of the program and how it has expanded nationwide to include more than 3,000 participants. Interview local chef Robert Clark from C Restaurant, a co-founder of the pro-gram, and hear his passion for a sustainable seafood industry. And don’t forget to recommend the recently published Ocean Wise Cookbook to your readers.
Vancouver’s commitment to green transportation is exemplified by the region’s growing mass transit system. The original SkyTrain line opened in 1985, with a new line added in 2002. In 2009 – just in time for the 2010 Olympic and Para-lympic Winter Games – the Canada Line was opened, linking the airport to downtown in a short, 25-minute trip. The next stage of this eco-minded transit network will be the Evergreen Line, scheduled to open in 2016.
But the city’s green transport credentials are not just transit-related. Vancouver has one of the world’s largest hybrid vehicle taxi fleets and has recently expanded its commitment to cyclists by creating popular new downtown bike lanes on city centre streets. Car drivers have not been forgotten, though: the city now requires electric vehicle charging stations for 20 percent of all parking stalls in new condo buildings.
Opened in 2009, the Vancouver Convention Centre’s West Building expansion is one of the greenest new structures in Canada. A designated LEED Platinum building, it has a six-acre living grass roof, fish habitats built into its foundations and a seawater heating and cooling system.
In addition, the building is surrounded by eye-popping public art and is the per-manent outdoor home of the 2010 Olympic Cauldron – which is reignited on special occasions.
Vancouver has a host of hotels designated under the global Green Key Eco-Rating Program as exemplifying great environmental stewardship. Only a few dozen hotels around the world have the coveted top-level Five Green Keys rating and in Vancouver these include:
As part of its commitment to environmentally sustainable practices, the Fairmont Waterfront sources herbs from its own rooftop garden, which also includes a honeybee apiary.
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Vancouver has some of the world’s greenest hotels. Cover this angle by sampling the eco-credentials of the Fairmont Waterfront (www.fairmont.com/waterfront), with its rooftop garden and free parking for hybrid and electric cars; the Listel Hotel (www.thelistelhotel.com), which uses solar-power and a heat recovery system; and the Opus Hotel (www.opushotel.com) with its extensive energy-saving and recycling programs.