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Vancouver: The Future Greenest City in the World

By October 17, 2012June 26th, 2017Healthy Living, Inspiration, Interesting Places


For a very long time, I’ve had a mostly distant love affair with the West Coast of both Canada and the U.S. It started with frequent trips to southern California in my youth to visit family and continued when I discovered Sedona, Arizona in the mid-1980s. Sedona is one place I return to as often as possible. It’s actually visiting the West Coast that always inspires me to sit down and write about it though. It’s the Canadian city of Vancouver that inspired me this time.

On my most recent trip, I was fortunate to visit both Vancouver and Victoria B.C. There’s something magical, a very different energy I experience in all places west of the Rockies. My curiosity led me to see many West Coast cities are leaders in the green and environmental movements. I hadn’t been to Vancouver for many years and found, (like I discovered and wrote about in my piece on Portland), it too was living up to its vision of creating a greener future for the city.

If You Want to Know the Future, Create it

Green Solar Initiative_Vancouver like settingI believe that if you want to know the future, create it. This is exactly what Vancouver is doing. With a pretty bold future-oriented vision to become the greenest city in the world by 2020, they’re already well on the way to accomplishing their goal. According to the city website, they currently have “the smallest carbon footprint of any major city in North America and we’re a leader in green building, planning and technology.” Impressive.

With a comprehensive 10-step plan, they seem to have looked at and are encompassing all the important areas necessary to accomplish their goal. From extensive plans for developing a green economy, with green buildings and green transportation, to achieving climate leadership with clean air and access to nature, they’ve examined everything that’s important to creating a totally sustainable and progressive eco-conscious city. They’ve not only identified what’s necessary but have put into action initiatives to achieve this.

If you want to know the future, create it!Click To Tweet

Green Collar Jobs

One of the terms they use a lot in describing the way of achieving their goal, is by creating “green collar jobs.” Their intention is to double the number of green jobs in the city by 2020, (over 2010 levels). This could mean as many as 20,000 new jobs are created. Vancouver currently already has about 12,000 green jobs in eight sectors.

Green jobs account for three per cent of Vancouver’s jobs. The industries included range from clean technology and education, to green building and materials recovery; from local food and urban agriculture to transportation and infrastructure.

Vancouver also has ambitious plans to become a leader in urban food systems and in realizing zero waste by reducing total solid waste going to landfill or incinerator by 50 per cent from 2008 levels. It’s both practical and doable and is sure to attract both new business and new residents to the city.

Vancouver’s Stanley Park is a Rain Forest

Among 27 cities examined by a study sponsored by Siemens, only San Francisco rated better overall as the greenest city in North America. Vancouver is already the greenest city in Canada. The only other Canadian city to challenge them, is my hometown of Toronto, which came in at number nine. Seems like we all have our own work to do in this area of greening our cities.

Having now revisited Vancouver, I recognize its unique attraction. Surrounded by natural beauty, the attitude is laid back and West Coast relaxed. Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre rain forest just north of downtown, is ringed by the Pacific Ocean on three sides. A living and breathing Canadian rain forest. I admit that this is something I just discovered. The perimeter of the park is lined by two paths, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists and in-line skaters.The lushness and green Stanley Park, Vancouver

Staying Active in Vancouver

Vancouver is abundant with opportunities for cycling, sailing and skiing close by. Year-round communing with nature is always possible. Vancouver is unsurpassed in not only its natural terrain, offering seemingly unlimited activities to choose from, but is steeped in cultural and historic possibilities to explore as well.

The climate is vacation friendly year-round, although some might bring up the fact that it rains a lot in Vancouver. It does, but on a clear day… well, it almost seems like you can see forever. The moderating onshore breezes make the air already among the cleanest air to breathe of any major world city. This time around, a friend guided me to new and interesting locales throughout the city, letting our feet lead us on a long and invigorating walk along the shoreline starting at Jericho Beach. A perfect day of sun, sand and warm breezes.

Travelling as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

Visiting Vancouver again confirmed its attraction and charm. Its plan to become the greenest city in the world by 2020 might seem ambitious to some. In a wonderful example of collaboration, the plans they have put in place are supported by everyone. It’s a plan created by a forward-thinking government. It is for the people and in many ways, by the people. It’s a co-operative and socially conscious effort for change. I’ll look forward to seeing how Vancouver achieves their goals. In some ways, they are leading the way for all of us.

Vancouver has progressive plans to be the greenest city in the world by 2020!Click To Tweet

Have you travelled to any ‘green’ cities and what can you share about them?

As we all know, travelling contributes to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re curious to know how healthy you are, find out with this complimentary USANA True Health Assessment. 

p.s. Although this was originally written in late 2012, Vancouver continues to make grand strides towards their goal. In late 2014, they were named one of the “10 Smartest Cities in the World” by Co-Exist. Here’s the list of all the cutting-edge cities.

Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, storyteller, peacenik and health & vitality consultant, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health and wellness, storytelling and creativity as a path to world peace. Her passion is turning the “impossible” into the possible, using her own experiences with a lifetime of health issues, to inspire and support others to live their life to the fullest. You're invited to a Complimentary Health Consultation, starting with the True Health Assessment that offers a customized personalized snapshot of how healthy you are in the areas of lifestyle, heredity and nutrition. Contact me to get started!


  • Vancouver is such a beautiful city. It’s truly a west coast gem. There’s something for everyone, and it’s really great how they are planning ahead.

    • I agree with you about Vancouver, Jennifer! There is so much to see and do and the fact they are committed to creating a green city, is wonderful for me as well.

  • Gill says:

    It’s nice to read a big city like Vancouver is at the top of the list for creating green, and Toronto not too far behind in Canada! I love traveling to Vancouver, you absolutely can smell the fresh ocean air. It’s so important to stay aware and for each of us to try our best in creating a healthy footprint.

    • I agree Gilly! I love that Vancouver is so committed to greening their city and creating new green jobs, leading the way for other Canadian and world cities. I’m happy you’ve had the opportunity to visit Vancouver, as it is one thing to describe it, another to experience it. I also love the fresh air, the ocean and the west cost in general.

  • Lori English says:

    This is a great article and I almost missed it, I always wanted to travel and see Vancouver. It looks like a wonderful place to visit and going to other cities enriches the value to meet other people and their likes and customs.

    Lori English

    • Thanks Lori! I agree that travelling to places like Vancouver, do give us new insight into other people’s lives and cultures. I love the fact that they are so committed to greening their future too!

  • Reba Linker says:

    Wow – you make Vancouver sound fantastic, Beverley. Of course, I love the emphasis on green everything. I would be running thataway if not for the scary tales of fault-lines, etc., – tell me, Beverley, does that concern the people who live there or didn’t it come up?

    • Thanks Reba! Vancouver is fantastic and I don’t think the people who live there are too concerned about fault-lines, although like most of the west coast, the threat is real. My brother lives in Victoria, and I never hear him discuss it. Same as a friend I have in San Francisco. It is definitely worth at least visiting Vancouver though.

  • Teresa Salhi says:

    How beautiful. I get a bit confused on how to say this – but I have visited Victoria which is the island of Vancouver or something like that. My dear friend and former mentor Michael Losier invited me. This place was off the charts magical. I also live 90 minutes from Sedona and that is magical in a whole other way as you know. Thanks for taking us on a joureny with you.

    • Thanks Teresa! Victoria is on Vancouver Island and Vancouver itself is on the mainland. Victoria is off the charts beautiful and my brother has lived there since the mid-80’s, so I have also visited several times. I agree with you about Sedona! It is simply magical and I cannot wait to return again this year. Happy you enjoyed this piece.

  • Cathy Sykora says:

    Forward thinking Vancouver! Sounds and looks beautiful Beverly. I think I’ll need to make travel plans that direction.

    • I agree Cathy! Vancouver is very forward-thinking and having visited there several times, it is a place I would recommend to every one! There is great beauty and so many choices of things to do.

  • Wow… love this.. beautiful sites and I remember the Sedona post too. Being from California… I was pretty partial to it.. you could be within a few hours of the beach, the hills, the caves, the mountains which means the snow or the sun… loved it there and miss it.

    • Thanks Kristen! I love the west coast. I could also start in Vancouver and drive the entire west coast to end up in California. I adore California so it must be hard to leave there and now live in Texas. Very different energies for sure. I agree with you about the wide range of choices in Cali. Beaches, mountains and everything in between. I haven’t been in a few years and really am longing to go back to the Laguna area again.

  • Traveling is so enjoyable and your writings are inspiring. I love Vancouver and I live in the Northwest so I feel blessed. We have a lot of creatives here in Seattle and Portland as well. I am delighted they are leading the way to reducing our carbon footprint! Spokane’s motto is Near Nature, Near Perfect!

    • Thank you Candess, I appreciate your support for my writing. I agree with you about travelling and especially to new places. Vancouver is a wonderful city and I have a soft spot of Portland and Seattle as well. Portland is a hub for the environmental movement as well, which was one of the reasons I was so keen to visit it. I loved it! Love Spokane’s motto! It would be wonderful if more city’s adopted that motto. Here’s to living “Near Nature, Near Perfect!”

  • Meghan says:

    It’s wonderful to read about the locations that are making strides to improve the environment and use green initiatives. There are so many cool new options for cities and neighborhoods. However, it doesn’t seem that the US is making enough changes at an acceptable pace.

    • I agree with you Meghan! It is very encouraging to read about the cities and even states who are moving forward with the green initiatives. Seems like the future of the movement is becoming more local. The US might get left behind, as it seems to be going backward instead of forward into the future.

  • Tamuria says:

    I visited Vancouver about 26 years ago and fell in love with the place – so beautiful. I loved Victoria B.C. The plan to create more green-collar jobs is wonderful. Sydney is a little behind. The target year to make it as green as possible is 2030.

    • That’s such a lovely memory of Vancouver, Tami! It has really progressed since you were last there and their commitment to being the greenest city in the world is hopefully sparring other cities to do the same. It sounds like Sydney is moving forward, even if their target is 2030.

  • I tell ya, Beverley, since the “leaders” of this country now think that global warming is a myth, Vancouver looks like a great place to become an ex-pat! I love what they’re doing here. Perhaps I see a longer winter in my future!

    • I hear you loud and clear, Susan! It does look like the cities in the U.S. who are committed to being green, will become the leaders at their local and state level. Vancouver is beautiful and if you do get there, I suggest you visit Victoria as well. Smaller and more quaint, but beautiful with much to see.

  • My husband often suggests retiring in Vancouver Canada. In the past few years I’ve experienced the West coast. Right now i’m enjoying a little retreat in South Florida though and it is really nice here.

    Interesting to know about the green trends out there!

    Thanks for a very informative article!

    • South Florida is good, Christiane…I’m heading there myself in a few days. The west coast would also be my choice to retire to, or to live even if I never retire actually. Vancouver is very serious about their intention of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020 and interestingly, everyone from the government to the people, are on board and working towards that. Glad you found the article informative and I appreciate your voice in the conversation.

  • Julie Wilson says:

    We have been to Vancouver, BC when we went to Whistler for the Olympics. What a beautiful city it was. When I tell people that I am from Vancouver, they say oh what a beautiful city it is. I have to gently say to them, no the other Vancouver:)

    • Thanks Julie. Glad you have had the opportunity to experience Vancouver, first-hand. Although I haven’t been to Whistler, I hear people love it there as well. And yes, Vancouver, BC definitely qualifies as beautiful. Sorry to hear your Vancouver isn’t quite as beautiful. 🙂

  • Veronica says:

    That is great to know about Vancouver. It is definitely worth a visit there. It is one of the places that I have always wanted to visit
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    • Well worth the visit for sure, Veronica. It really is a fabulous place and so much to choose from in a wonderfully green environment. Hope you get to travel there sometime soon.

  • Vancouver is on our list to visit at some point. Thanks for the great article, it seems to be exactly how I imagined it!
    Delia @ Happy Blogger Plaza recently posted…5 blogging goals to grow your blog this yearMy Profile

    • Happy that the article gave you something to look forward to in visiting Vancouver, Delia. Having been there several times, I know you will enjoy your visit, once you get to travel there and cross it off your list!

  • Caroline says:

    What a fascinating article!
    Canada is on the travelling wish list for our family. It is the complete opposite of life in Kuwait. Not only from the point of view of the temperatures experienced but also the landscape. Kuwait barely has anything close to a hill never mind a mountain.
    The focus on ‘green’ living is also something missing in Kuwait. Whilst there is a growing evidence of concern with environmental issues there is still a long way to go. It is something that a lot of expats struggle with.
    In more ways than one, Kuwait is far from being a green country.
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    • Kuwait sounds quite interesting in a different way, Caroline. I imagine culturally you are making a lot of lasting memories. My wish would be that all countries embrace “green” and I hear you when you say that there are growing environmental concerns there. It is inevitable I would imagine. Perhaps expats can be the ones to spearhead some initiatives, at least by starting new conversations like I believe is happening in some of the European countries who have lots of expats living there. Seems there is a large expat community in Barcelona and other parts of Spain as well. Appreciate your perspective and thanks for sharing here.

  • Tammi says:

    I live in California, near the coast, and would chose no other place to live and raise my kids. But I would love to visit Victoria and the east coast some day. Thank you for the great description of Vancouver. It is definitely on my list!

    • California, near the coast sounds so awesome Tammi. California has been a long time favourite of mine and I’ve visited and travelled from San Francisco to San Diego along the coast..fabulous drive. Victoria is where my brother lives and both Vancouver and Victoria are very worth the trip. Love them both and recommend them to everyone who asks. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

  • Cher says:

    I grew up on the West Coast (California) and really took it for granted! While I like the scenery where I live now, I really miss California and more of the green movement. So glad to see other cities embracing “green”! Vancouver sounds like a fabulous place to visit, especially from your description!
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    • I think we all take for granted where we live, until we leave and then see it from a more objective place in our lives, Cher. I love the west coast and always thought that California would be the most amazing place to live. Like you, I’m excited when I hear that cities are embracing a green future and Vancouver is definitely going for it…all out. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  • I absolutely love living in San Diego (I used to live in Seattle) and it afford a quick flight to Vancouver – I’ve done a few events there. I adore Vancouver and agree – something for everyone there! I am not surprised at how far advanced they are.
    Heather @ Life of a Traveling Navy Wife recently posted…So You Want to be an Event Planner? 10 Things to Consider FirstMy Profile

    • I would absolutely love living in San Diego or Seattle too, Heather! Love the west coast and envision myself landing there to live one of these days. Or at least visiting as often as possible, which is why I go to Arizona or Portland whenever possible. Your proximity to Vancouver and all of the northwest, makes it an easy flight and sounds like your experience of Vancouver is like all of us who have had the opportunity to visit it. Great place and there is something for everyone! Thanks for joining in the conversation here.

  • Zografia says:

    I wish i lived in a green country! We Greeks live in a beautiful country, but we are doing a terrible job keeping it beautiful! I have not been to Vancouver, but i think it is gorgeous! A pleasure to live there!
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    • Seems many countries could take a lesson from Vancouver, Zografia. I have heard that Greece is also beautiful and it would be amazing if they also took on some initiatives to make it “greener” environmentally.

  • Donna Hanton says:

    Beverley, your description of Vancouver, as well as of the attitude and its forward thinking do them proud. It is a truly beautiful city, and I think part of the environmentalism there exists because Vancouverites know how much they would potentially have to lose. I loved my time living just off the coast from there, on Vancouver Island, and can’t wait until I can return.
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    • Yes, Donna, having this first hand experience definitely makes it easier to relate and appreciate the wondrous “green” initiatives these west coast cities are committed to. Every place I have visited along the west coast truly is incredible and Vancouverites should be proud that they are planning and moving forward toward their goal. I feel the same, about looking forward to visiting again in the near future. Thanks for your voice in this conversation.

  • I need to visit Vancouver… now more than ever! It is almost shameful I have not been there yet, as I was born in Portland and have spent most of my life in the PNW. I currently live closer to Salem, a city that has very far to go in the area of beauty and sustainability. I have hope for them. Reading your article made me realize that I think I take being an Oregonian for granted.
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    • Portland is another of my favourite places as well, Kathryn. I’ve been there twice and I also wrote an article on how positively impacted I was by its leading edge green initiatives. The entire west coast calls me and whether it is the NW or the SW, I find I feel uplifted and energized after visiting there. You might be taking Oregon for granted, because as a visitor, I believe it is a spectacular state. Hopefully some of the other less evolved cities will take their cue from the amazing work these west coast cities are committed to in the areas of beauty and sustainability.

  • I was in San Francisco for three days and after that, I went to San Diego by the sea side. It was really beautiful! I just came back some days ago…. I was in Seattle too some years ago. I’ ve not been in Vancouver yet. But after reading this post, I will consider it!

    I already miss west coast!

    Thank you for this great great post!
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    • Love both San Francisco and San Diego and actually all places along the west coast…both north and south. I totally hear you when you say you miss the west coast already. I feel that every time I come back after one of my energizing trips! Glad this one brought back some sweet memories and that you enjoyed it. Hope you get to Vancouver in the near future too, Caroline!

  • Lorii Abela says:

    I read your article with a great interest. Thanks for sharing it.
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  • Tara says:

    This was so well written, Beverley. I agree; you could absolutely be a travel writer. I definitely want to visit Vancouver now. What struck me most was the quote, “If you want to know the future, create it.” That quote alone holds so much truth. Thank you for introducing us to a bird’s-eye view of an incredible city.
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    • Thanks so much Tara! I’d really LOVE to be a travel writer and it would be an amazing way to see the world. Yes, that quote really speaks to me as well, as we alone can create the life we want to live. Glad this piece interested you in visiting Vancouver. You will not be disappointed. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

  • Wow, you could be a travel writer.Never been to Vancouver but fell in love with Seattle on a visit a few years ago. Any city that creates a goal as huge as Vancouvers is bound to succeed. It’s so atypical of city government. So glad the recent publication & your posting it of the ‘smartest cities in the world’ had you repost this blog for all to read, had we missed it in 2012.
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    • Appreciate your vote of support for my travel writing, Roslyn. I’d love to travel and then share my experiences through writing. Vancouver does have ambitious goals indeed, and I truly believe with all the initiatives they have implemented…they just might make it. Glad I got to share it again too for a new group of readers to experience. Appreciate your support!

  • Tina says:

    Vancouver is beautiful!! I visited there when I attended college outside of Portland. At that time the areas were just becoming aware of the environment and beginning to protect nature. I can imagine that it is more stunning now. Thanks for the memories!
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    • I love Portland too, Tina. I had no idea you attended college there. Vancouver is truly beautiful and I really get the charm of the west coast. Both the northwest and the southwest, which I love so much. What I love about Vancouver is its commitment to being the greenest city in the world by 2020 and that they have all the pieces in place to reach that goal! Thanks for joining in the conversation.

  • Lorii Abela says:

    Thanks, Beverley, for sharing your wonderful life experiences in Vancouver, Canada. I know that for
    you it was such a moment worth remembering for.
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