How green is my city?

2016-05-17 12.52.122017-02-07 10.39.12

I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Part of its beauty is its natural setting and the abundance of nature in the city. We have mountains and the sea, a huge urban forest park and splendid street trees, fantastic views and open sunny spaces, beautiful natural beaches, lovely gardens and lush public park areas, all this within and around a sizeable, vibrant city. Still a perennial favourite in the ‘most livable cities’ league, Vancouver has seen almost boundless development and urbanization in the last decade.  Old houses are torn down and replaced by over-sized structures without green backyards. The downtown area is turning into a high-rise glass-and-concrete jungle with sun-deprived streets. View corridors shrink to peek-a-boo vistas and mixed usage developments replace green streetscapes with towering condos and yet more retail. So you would think the Greenest City Action Plan, which aims to make Vancouver the “greenest city” worldwide by 2020 would be the perfect framework for preserving and enhancing what is still ‘green’ in our city. But look at the goals of the initiative and you soon realize that less real green is the new green. The new green is all about the economy, sustainability and density, and not about greenery as a vital part of a livable city. Nature is the city’s most cherished, precious and widely envied asset, and yet, we are squandering it the name of development and a new green with less green. Don’t get me wrong, the Action Plan in itself is commendable and a worthy goal, but it’s just as important to preserve, maintain and maybe even expand, rather than shrink, our green spaces, if we want to stay a truly ‘green’ city.

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