vancouver skyline

Vancouver, situated on the west coast of Canada, is a vibrant and dynamic metropolitan area known for its stunning natural beauty, thriving economy, and commitment to sustainability. As the largest city in the province of British Columbia, Vancouver proper is home to over 630,000 residents while the Vancouver metro area is home to approximately 2.6 millions and serves a hub for innovation, culture, and sustainable urban development.

Vancouver serves a critical function in the greater Canadian sphere – along with the port of Prince Rupert, the port of Vancouver is the only entry for sea trade for Western Canada and as such is crucial for much of Canada’s business and goods – both import and export.

Vancouver is currently one of the most inflated housing markets in the world and as such will be dealing most harshly with the impacts of population changes, and densification.

Environmental Sustainability

Vancouver has established itself as a leader in environmental sustainability, with ambitious goals and innovative initiatives to address climate change and promote green living.

  • The city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Vancouver’s renewable energy initiatives include the expansion of the district energy system, the promotion of solar power, and the transition to electric vehicles.
  • The city’s Urban Forest Strategy focuses on increasing the urban tree canopy to 30% by 2050, providing environmental benefits and enhancing livability.
  • Comprehensive waste management programs, including organic waste diversion and expanded recycling services, have helped the city achieve a waste diversion rate of over 60%.

Economic Sustainability

Vancouver’s economy is diverse, with strengths in sectors such as technology, film and television, tourism, and green industries. The city is committed to fostering sustainable economic growth and supporting local businesses.

  • The Vancouver Economic Commission’s “Green and Digital Demonstration Program” provides funding and support for the development of innovative clean technologies and sustainable business models.
  • Investments in public transit, including the expansion of the world-class SkyTrain rapid transit system, have helped reduce car dependency and support transit-oriented development.

Social Sustainability

Vancouver is dedicated to promoting social equity, inclusivity, and community well-being. Key initiatives include:

  • The Affordable Housing Strategy, which sets targets for the creation of new affordable housing units and the preservation of existing affordable housing. Vancouver is currently upzoning the city to remove strict zones of only single family housing in order to promote the creation of more homes.
  • The Healthy City Strategy, which addresses issues such as food security, mental health, and access to community services.
  • The Vancouver Intercultural Strategy, which fosters intercultural understanding and supports the integration of newcomers and diverse communities.

Cultural Sustainability

Vancouver’s vibrant cultural landscape celebrates its diverse heritage and identity, with a focus on preserving and promoting local arts, heritage, and indigenous traditions.

  • The city’s Heritage Action Plan aims to protect and revitalize historic neighborhoods and buildings, maintaining the city’s unique character.
  • Support for indigenous cultural programs, public art installations, and festivals showcases the rich cultural diversity of Vancouver.
  • The development of creative hubs and artist-run centers nurtures the local arts and music scene, contributing to the city’s vibrant cultural ecosystem.
  • Sustainable tourism initiatives highlight Vancouver’s natural assets, such as Stanley Park, the North Shore mountains, and the city’s waterfront, promoting eco-tourism and responsible visitation.

Towards a Sustainable Future

By embracing a holistic approach to sustainability that encompasses environmental, economic, social, and cultural domains, Vancouver has positioned itself as a model for urban transformation. The city’s innovative policies, programs, and partnerships demonstrate a commitment to creating a more livable, equitable, and resilient community for all. As the Cities Programme North continues to advocate for sustainable and inclusive urban development, Vancouver’s sustainability efforts serve as an inspiring example for cities across Canada and beyond.