Vancouver ranked 4th most sustainable North American city

Vancouver’s bike lanes were one of the biggest contributing factors to its high ranking on a list of North America’s most sustainable cities by a Toronto publication. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)


Vancouver’s tightly packed downtown — one of North America’s densest — and myriad of bike lanes makes the city one of the most sustainable in the continent, according to a new study by a Toronto-based publication.

But its fourth-place ranking by Corporate Knights still trails Ottawa, which came third on the list, in a host of categories ranging from water consumption to green space.

“The one category (Vancouver) really suffered was economic security,” said Jeremy Runnalls, managing editor of the publication that focuses on “clean” capitalist enterprises.

“High housing prices would be to blame partially for that.”

He said the report didn’t focus solely on sustainability in terms of green initiatives, but “at every way in which we consume energy and spend money.”

Runnalls noted Vancouver’s relatively low unemployment rate (6.6%) still lags behind that of Ottawa (5.4%) and Calgary (5%).

The report also showed 20.8% of the city’s population qualifies as low income, compared to Ottawa (14.8%) and Calgary (13.4%).

“A sustainable city should be a good place to live, not only one that is green,” Runnalls added.

The study pointed to issues of governance and engagement as areas the city can improve on in the future. About 35% of eligible Vancouver voters cast ballots in the 2011 municipal election.

But city council is expected to vote next week on accepting more than a dozen “quick-start” recommendations — including a day dedicated for block parties, council liaisons and a mobile city hall — as part of its Engaged City Taskforce plan to reignite civic participation.

The report card, which measured 20 of North America’s biggest cities, placed San Francisco, Calif. at the top of its list, while Detroit, Mich. was at the bottom.


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