Vancouver has a plan, one that is immensely satisfying to the green tourist, if they can achieve it; one that makes the Canadian city worth more than a flying visit if you have any interest in sustainability. The city plans to become the greenest on earth by the year 2020, and since this was decided back in 2009 and an action plan implemented, work is already well underway to make Vancouver the sustainability capital of the world.
The green incentives are intended to reduce the city's carbon footprint, reduce waste by 40% and create eco-friendly jobs for residents of Vancouver. Businesses can get involved by signing up for one of the initiatives which can help the company reduce energy consumption or build a low-carbon construction.
Already famous for its appealing streets and neighbourhoods, you will find plenty to appeal to the ecotourist on any Vancouver city tour. The city is alive with parks and greenways, as well as "tiny vest-pocket green spaces" and the famous Stanley Park, which is globally recognised as one of the great parks of the world. The park is certainly worth stopping by however you get around on your Vancouver city tour as it has a plethora of wildlife, plants and beautiful surroundings as well as plenty of events always taking place.
Streets are maintained with the help of the Green Streets Program, which enlists the help of volunteers to maintain the floral displays dotted liberally around Vancouver's streets. It's really no chore to wander around on your Vancouver city tour as the flowers and clean streets make it a pleasure.
Modes of transport for your Vancouver city tour
Of course you don't have to walk around the entire city on your Vancouver city tour, there are other modes of transport that you can take. The Vancouver transit system, Translink, covers more than 1800 square kilometres of the Greater Mainland of Vancouver using a mixture of buses, the SeaBus and SkyTrain, all providing great views over this beautiful city.
There's also a new transport system, the Canada Line, which opened in August 2009 and is a rapid rail service that links Downtown, Richmond and Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Trains are regular, leaving every four minutes from Vancouver and every seven from Richmond and YVR. A one-way trip from YVR to Downtown costs just $3.75 and takes around 25 minutes.
It's also worth paying a visit to the Vancouver Visitor Centre, where the staff will be only too happy to help you plan your Vancouver city tour and even places to stay and eat whilst you are there. If you prefer to plan ahead then why not order your free copy of the Vancouver Visitor's Guide before you leave home so that you can plan effectively.
Things to do and see on your Vancouver city tour
Aside from visiting the city's parks, Vancouver also offers plenty of cultural entertainment that can be enjoyed by the green traveller. As mentioned above, there is always something going on at Stanley Park, including art displays and local, outdoor theatre events. Picnics can be taken in the gardens and there are four restaurants to choose from within the park, including a fresh fish restaurant.
For the more adventurous there are a number of non-motorised sporting options, visitors can hire a kayak and explore the region's beaches or even try their hand at windsurfing. Otherwise there is always the option of hiring a bicycle and finding your way around on your Vancouver city tour on two wheels. Although there isn't an existing city-led cycle initiative this is something that is currently being planned for the future.
A lesser known park covering 3.3 hectares can also be found in the downtown district of the city, Portside Park is on the waterfront and has a large beach, as well as some of the best views to be found of that part of the city. Perfect for those who enjoy tranquillity, the park is generally quite empty, even on the nicer days of the year. To get there, follow Main Street to the northern end in Gastown, cross a bridge over the railway tracks and double back on yourself and you will find an idyllic haven smack in the centre of the industrial district.
Portside Park is perfect for those who want to see a good cross-section of the cultural diversity that can be found in Vancouver and offers a completely different perspective to other, more well-known parts of the city.
For further insight into the culture of Vancouver, try visiting the farmer's markets, which run from late May to October and can be found in five locations around the city. Trout Lake is the largest of these and was established in 1995; here you can find a wide range of organic produce as well as meat, cheese, seafood and all kinds of pre-prepared foods. There is also a selection of locally produced high-quality craft items which are perfect to take back home as gifts or just for you.
Green hotels in Vancouver
The Fairmont Waterfront hotel in Vancouver is a member of the Green Hotels Initiative and continues to be a leader in the city for sustainable and responsible tourism. The hotel has recently installed Electric Vehicle charging stations which are available for guests and other travellers staying in the surrounding area.
On the rooftop you can find the hotel's own herb garden, which also keeps honey bees, and the hotel prides itself on only using sustainable seafood and locally grown produce in its restaurants.
Of course there are plenty of other options to choose from which may be better suited to your budget, so it's worth having a good look around before you decide on a place to stay.
All in all, there is plenty to interest the ecotourist in Vancouver and the city is a beautiful place to stay. In recent years Vancouver has become very cosmopolitan and so there is a good cross-section of cultures to immerse yourself in, as well as plenty to see, do and explore.