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Envision the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

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Proposed additional target: Reduce distance driven per resident 20% from 2007 levels.

The additional target speaks to length of trips as well as number of trips. Both targets assume continuing population growth.

Goal 5: Zero Waste

Reduce total solid waste going to landfill or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels.

This target was increased to match Metro’s goal of 80% diversion by 2020. The original target worked out to 73% diversion.

Goal 6: Access to Nature

Ensure that every Vancouver resident lives within a five minute walk of a park beach, greenway or other natural space by 2020.

Plant 150,000 additional trees in the city between 2010 and 2020.

These targets weren’t revised. The City has a map that shows which neighbourhoods have relatively little green space per capita (such as Mount Pleasant and East Van) and those blocks that aren’t in five minute walking distance to a park. The City will seek to fill the gaps with spaces that avoid land acquisition, such as closing off some street ends and laneways to cars and greening them up.

Goal 7: Lighter Footprint

Reduce Vancouver’s per capita ecological footprint by 33% over 2006 levels.

This is the original target. It’s based on the idea that it would take 4 planet earths to sustain the current population if everyone lived as we do. The other greenest city goals can achieve a quarter of what is needed here. The remainder relies on residents, businesses and other organizations changing consumption choices and habits.

Goal 8: Clean Water

Meet or beat the strongest of British Columbian, Canadian and international drinking water quality standards and guidelines.

Reduce per capita water consumption by 33% over 2006 levels.

Revision of the first target made it more stringent. The second target is an adaptation to climate uncertainty. With current conditions, consumption and infrastructure, the reservoir would fill our needs until 2080. But climate impacts could include longer dry periods and other effects.

Goal 9: Clean Air

Meet or beat the strongest of British Columbian, Canadian and international air quality standards and guidelines.

Revised to substitute “international air quality standards and guidelines” for “World Health Organization air quality guidelines.”

Goal 10: Local Food

Increase city and neighbourhood food assets by a minimum of 50%.

The original target was to reduce the carbon footprint of food by 50%. The staff and advisory committee decided it was almost impossible to measure the carbon of food from disparate sources. If met, the revised target will result in lower emissions while promoting other values such as access to local food, employment opportunities and food security.

The Difference Between Brainstorming with Friends and Trying to Imagine the Draft Plan’s 2020

Envisioning what Mount Pleasant could look like in 2020 felt a bit like one of those great late night brainstorm session with friends. But there are fundamental differences. For one, the City actually has the authority and resources to create and support real change. It’s potential tools include zoning bylaws, the building code, an energy code, its own utilities, the ability to collaborate with other utilities, business permits and licenses, data collection, education, monitoring, incentives, rebates, financing, land, buildings, its motor fleet and its operations.

Second, Lindsay and Amanda weren't my casually brainstorming friends. I had never met them before and they’re educated planners who have been gathering, researching and collating information on feasible targets for the better part of a year. And their fine efforts are only a small portion of the time and expertise that stands behind the draft plan.

Third, the passage of time has clarified that green visions of the future aren’t just nicer or important for abstract reasons like “walking lightly ” or “respecting nature.” They’re important because the earth is radically changing right now and if we want social stability for our children, ourselves and the world, we have to change energy sources and improve efficiency as quickly as possible. The Greenest City Action Plan lays out ways to do that. That is both exciting and a real relief. 

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