Green Vancouver
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Vancouver was born green, its road layout shows that it was conceived as a lifestyle city. A perfect example of this is Highway #1, Canada’s longest highway. Vancouver is the only city in Canada that not only has stop lights on it, but diverts it away from the downtown core. Most cities run the main highway through the downtown core, but Vancouver was designed as a city “away from the city,” as it were. And it doesn’t end there.

Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, declared he wants to make Vancouver the “greenest” city on the planet, and initiatives taken by city hall demonstrate they’re serious about this. From actual green bike lanes downtown, to strict environmental codes, to a ban of big box stores downtown, Vancouver is a city made for and by environmentalists. Mr. Robertson made his money inventing a green health drink, called “Happy Planet,” which came in a few flavors, one being a green colored drink.

Vancouver is home to the birth of Greenpeace had its beginnings in Vancouver in 1970 with a benefit concert protesting a nuclear weapons test in Amchitka. From there it flourished into the organization we know today. Environmentalism fits well with the personality of Vancouver, a mix of 1960’s hippy, urban trend setter, and community minded socialite. Vancouverites love a cause, especially one which fits into one of these social paradigms.

This identity doesn’t sit well with another class within Vancouver though, the resource sector. British Columbia is rich in natural resources, every kind of metal, to lumber, natural gas, fish, and even some oil. The two cultures often go head to head, and with public opinion heavily on the side of the environmentalists, the resource sector has learned to tread lightly. Vancouverites recognize the resource sector brings in huge revenues, which funds their lifestyle, so they too don’t take the fight too far.

The media plays a dual role in the matter, often divided into publications supporting the environmental cause and different publications for the resource sector. Yet, the divide isn’t as wide as one may think, the resource sector has found it can progress much faster by inviting skilled environmentalists on board to the company. People who are pragmatic about the issue, recognizing the need for resources, but applying renewable methods to the process of resource gathering. This has led to a mutual respect and agreement between the two camps, where cooperation has made each side more understanding of the other’s viewpoint.

Like any hot topic in Vancouver, environmentalism and the green movement has its share of strong supporters, and they often choose to get their message out by way of a blog. Vancouver blogs usually focus on lifestyle issues, but even they give a nod to the green movement, as it is the unofficial Vancouver value system. A Vancouver blogger specializing in environmental causes is often cited as a reference for articles on other media sites and blogs. Not every Vancouverite is interested in fashion or food, or lifestyle, but just about everyone supports the environmentalist stance. Therefore, blogs which feature green articles become a defacto conscience for the city, guiding many people’s thoughts and actions with regard to buying habits, business decisions, and even types of housing.

David Suzuki, the famous environmentalist, makes his home in Vancouver and is something of a legend in Vancouver. These days, he need only make an appearance to a cause or function, and it instantly has credibility. Such is the culture in Vancouver, which, for better or worse, has embraced an environmentalist conscience, and did so long before most cities even knew what being an environmentalist meant.


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