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Robertson unveils new green branding campaign for Vancouver

September 30th, 2009 · 29 Comments

Apparently, I’m allowed to publicize this as of 1:01, so here goes. This the latest from city hall: Vancouver: “Green Capital.”  Get the double meaning? I hope so.

I await your scathing comments on how this is just another EcoDensity campaign … or not.

Mayor outlines ‘Vancouver Green Capital’ economic strategy for Vancouver

VANCOUVER—At an address to the Vancouver Board of Trade today, Mayor Gregor Robertson announced a number of economic development initiatives, including the introduction of ‘Vancouver Green Capital,’ a new economic branding strategy for the City.

“The Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we need to do everything we can to help our local economy capitalize on it,” said Mayor Robertson. “That means being aggressive in terms of how we market ourselves to the world. The ‘Vancouver Green Capital’ branding strategy allows us to define Vancouver on our terms.”

Mayor Robertson also announced several other strategic initiatives aimed at fostering business development and investment in the City. These include:

    • The Vancouver Economic Development Commission’s Economic Development Strategy for Vancouver, which will be released in November – the first economic development strategy for Vancouver in two decades.
    • Metro Vancouver Commerce, an unprecedented collaboration with local municipalities to target new businesses and market the region as a whole. Metro Vancouver Commerce will be the most aggressive business development program in Metro Vancouver’s history and will be rolled out in October.
    • Vancouver House, which will showcase ‘Vancouver Green Capital’ to the world during the 2010 Games. Vancouver House will provide a launching pad for local businesses, entrepreneurs and industries to gain access to a global audience during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
    • The development of a Low carbon economic development zone. Designed to spur economic activity and create jobs, these zones include financing mechanisms, government incentives and technology exchanges. Mayor Robertson has been in talks with US cities in the Pacific Northwest to collaborate on low carbon economic zones, and intends to enter into an agreement with the State of California this year.

“We’ve got cutting-edge businesses, we have the opportunity to lead the world in green technology research and development, and we have a dynamic, highly educated and creative workforce,” said Mayor Robertson. “With the new strategies and programs the City and the VEDC are rolling out, and in particular our business brand of ‘Vancouver Green Capital,’ we’re saying we’re open for business and the days of Vancouver being seen as a sleepy, laid-back West Coast town are in the past.”

The ‘Vancouver Green Capital’ global branding strategy has been developed over the last several months by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Economic Development Commission. It creates a positive, clear and consistent image of Vancouver to market the City around the world – particularly during the 2010 Games. Up until now, the city has had no such strategy.

“Vancouver Green Capital is the business global branding strategy Vancouver needs going into the 2010 Games and beyond,” said Vancouver Economic Development Commission CEO Phil Heard. “I’m very pleased that the VEDC has been able to work closely with the City to develop a clear plan to put Vancouver’s businesses in front of customers the world over.”

More information on the city’s economic development strategies can be viewed at


To view Mayor Robertson’s speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade:

Enter into your browser’s address bar. You should be prompted for the following information:
Account name: GVTV-Media
Account password:  COVmedia09

Media contact:

Kevin Quinlan
Executive Assistant
Office of the Mayor

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  • Darcy McGee

    Tell Gregor to stop bottling his orange juice in TetraPaks that are recycled in China before he starts calling Vancouver Green.

    Let’s start dealing with our own trash within the GVRD region, instead of trucking it 400km away before we call ourselves green.

    Let’s stop letting people renovate houses without improving their efficiency, and require 100% of new construction to be LEED compliant. (LEED, mind you, has its shortcomings…but it’s in place, recognized, and generally gets the job done.)

    Vancouver’s no greener than any other big city in North America. It’s not even a big city.


  • A. G. Tsakumis

    I need to lie down for a minute…I just found myself in total agreement, on something (anything!) with ole Darc…

    Apparently, Vision located Sam’s old caravan in the parking lot and straightened the frame, and bought new tires.

    Only difference is that Gregor’s snake-oil will be organic.

    Folks, this is what happens when you are a party that is being lead by a man who has no idea what to do and was nothing but a sham candidate, propped up by people whose capacity for avaricious comportment is only challenged by their megalomania.

    NONE of the major issues Gregor campaigned on have been even adequately addressed, but now he’s going to go to Copenhagen for an eco-circle jerk and maybe to LA for a vanilla cone with Mickey and Minnie.

    The only steam coming off anything is the one coming off the fresh agricultural fertilizer being shoveled by this lot of hucksters and buffoons.

    They realized their first year was a dismal failure, so now they’re going to trot out the Sam method.

    Good luck with that…

  • Not Running For Mayor

    I agree we need to learn to stop aiming for the fences or we’ll never win. Remember the big techpark dreams of the 90s and how Vancouver was going to be the hub of the new tech age.

    If we want to be green then we will have to do it with mutliple small steps.
    1)Continue and expand LEED requirements (Buildings contribute more to GHGs in our region then transportation does)
    2) Introduce composting pickup
    3) Switch all civic vechiles onto biofuels and ensure all future vechile purchases are the most efficient they can be; while still doing the job.
    4) Build gasification garbage incinerator using the lastest technology available so we don’t have to haul our trash hundreds of kms. Use the electricity and steam produced to power nearby homes.
    5) Reduce min parking requirments completely for new developments and let markets decide what the min should be, impose a new lower maxium for parking (They’re already making strives in this dept but it can be taken to another level)
    6) Elimate free parking at every civic park, building for both workers and visitors.
    7)Elimate gas fireplaces in any new construction

    There are hundreds of little steps that could be taken, that while each don’t amount to much combined they are easy to implement, don’t break the bank and acutally show results.
    Industry will then come to use without us having to beg them to come. Please for the love of us taxpayers do not even think of giving out an subsidies to try and attract the “green” industry.

  • I was very impressed with Mayor Robertson’s enthusiasm for marketing Vancouver to the world.

    I was a little less enthusiastic about the new very generic-sounding “Green Capital” branding, which is shared with Australia – , Stockholm – , Ottawa – etc. –

    But I admire his enthusiasm, support the overall goal, and wish them well in their efforts to attract new businesses and green jobs to Vancouver.

  • HelloKitty

    The Mayor, for the first time in 2 decades, is actually working IN CONSULTATION with the VEDC to implement an economic development plan, and that is worthy of criticism from the usual suspects?

    Give me a break. Ecodensity was thought up in the back of Sullivan’s van, and then launched on the city without consultation or input requested.

    At least there something here to work with…tweak…debate….criticize.

    Economics has always taken a back seat at City Hall.

    It’s about time.

  • IanS

    I have to agree with the earlier posters, this sounds more like an advertising scheme than a substantive move to a more environmentally friendly city. Apart from the bike lane, which arguably will cause more pollution (at least in the short term) due to idling cars and increased travel times and the community garden at City Hall, what other steps have been taken to actually become a “green” city?

  • ” . . . new economic branding strategy”

    ” . . . aggressive in terms of how we market ourselves”

    ” Strategic initiatives”

    ” . . . target new businesses and market the region as a whole”

    ” . . . aggressive business development”

    ” We’ve got cutting-edge businesses”

    ” . . . global branding strategy”

    Sounds like the same old same old to me . . .

  • Darcy McGee

    >Economics has always taken a back seat at City Hall.

    Not only at city hall. In people’s lives as well.

    Sadly, people are more than happy to wrap themselves in the green, but only to the extent that it doesn’t seriously impact their pocketbook.

    It’s Gregor’s hypocrisy that I dislike. The goal is good, but Happy Planet is not a “green” business. It’s just a business.

  • I urge you all to re-read ‘Not running for Mayor’s’ suggestions. He’s absolutely right. We should try to succeed with a lot of small, incremental steps, not giant aspirations.

    Vancouver has already created a Sustainability Precinct …long before this Mayor and Council took over. Do you know where it is? Do you know what has it accomplished?

    That being said, I do agree that the City should cooperate with other municipalities to market the REGION…this has not been happening, but needs to since Vancouver should be competing with Calgary or Chicago, not Burnaby.

  • Peter Edmonds

    Successful marketing strategies extoll the tangible and authentic features and/or benefits of a product or service.

    This is a branding strategy makes me think: “Where’s the beef?”

    It stinks of greenwashing. Sad to say, but it makes me a bit ashamed to be a Vancouverite.

    We need to do things before we decide to tell the world about them; then they might actually believe us.

  • Frothingham

    “If we want to be green then we will have to do it with mutliple small steps.”

    right on the mark. every race is finished on setup at a time… not one giant LEAP. Green is the new Black

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    I would have been just as happy if he dropped th failed bike lane nonsense and just announced a new bike and pedestrian bridge; supported LEEDS standards at a minimum and committed to the incremental steps Not Running for Mayor has suggested.

    All this other crap, is just that, crap: It does no more to get us to rarified air than Al Bore’s frothy shell games or Suzuki’s hypocrisy.

    This stuff shoveled today is nothing but eco-density on crack.

  • “Apart from the bike lane, which arguably will cause more pollution (at least in the short term) due to idling cars and increased travel times”

    This urban myth has already been discounted in a different thread.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    No Chris, it hasn’t. Just because you have a monopoly on eco-bullshit, doesn’t mean anything has been settled.

    The bike lane does indeed cause more pollution unless you skew the peak hours and lie about what the real numbers of cars versus bikes crossing are.

    Of course, you of all could NEVER be accused of doing any such thing…..

  • Turbo

    “Folks, this is what happens when you are a party that is being lead by a man who has no idea what to do and was nothing but a sham candidate, propped up by people whose capacity for avaricious comportment is only challenged by their megalomania.”

    Maobama or Gregor?

  • IanS


    This is pretty much off topic, but a couple of things:

    1. I don’t agree with AGT’s response to you.

    2. I don’t agree with your assertion that increased pollution caused by an increased usage of cars is an “urban myth” or has been otherwise rebutted.

  • Hi Alex:

    Your column on the topic applied the maximum delay to every recorded trip in both directions. There’s no delays most of the time. As an example, for your numbers to be correct the driver crossing northbound at 11pm on a Sunday would have to be delayed six minutes. I don’t think this is happening, do you? Further, I crossed the bridge at 6pm two Mondays ago and there was zero congestion in either direction, so even an anecdotal observation puts your assertions into question.

    Latest statistics are up, cycling is up 25%. Smells like the sweaty Spandex pong of success to me.

    For the good of all of us, please focus your energies and talents on some of the real problems in our city. A single lane of bridge deck for one measly kilometre isn’t among them. If the congestion you claim was truly an issue, one is left with an important question. Why aren’t we hearing about the Burrard Bridge on local traffic reports?



  • Daily averages (July 4 – August 30)

    Average number of cyclists per day crossing the bridge during the trial: 4,718
    Average number of cyclists per day crossing the bridge before the trial: 3,775

  • Darcy McGee

    > If the congestion you claim was truly an
    > issue, one is left with an important
    > question. Why aren’t we hearing about
    > the Burrard Bridge on local traffic reports?


  • IanS


    Just to update your statistics:

    Daily averages (Sept 1 – Sept 27)

    Average number of cyclists per day crossing the bridge during the trial: 3,683
    Average number of cyclists per day crossing the bridge before the trial: 3,775

    Now, given the lack of real comparative data, I’m not convinced these figures mean a lot, but, if you are going to continue to cite them as evidence of success, I suppose they might equally be used as evidence of failure.

    Of course, as far as increased pollution goes, the key point is that car traffic has remained steady and travel times have, at least to some extent, increased. I am not suggesting that this has resulted in a great increase in pollution, though I imagine it’s pretty unpleasant if you are unfortunate enough to live near Pacific and Burrard, but I don’t think it can be argued that the bike lane hasn’t resulted in a least some increase in pollution. At least in the short term.

    Which leads to the point relevant to this thread, ie. notwithstanding the mayor’s plans to “brand” Vancouver as a “green” city, very little of substance has actually been done.

  • IanS

    Hmm.. in looking at the city’s statistics, I notice that the travel time statistics and analysis has been removed. Anyone know why?

  • Ian:

    We can all make suppositions. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a negligble increase in emissions… although I’m doubtful, since in my personal observations I haven’t witnessed congestion due to the trial. My major criticism is with the sketchy arithmetic and inflated figures AGT used in his column. It struck me as irresponsible and inaccurate, and a disservice to his readers.

    With that, I’ll remove myself from the thread. This issue gets way more column inches than it deserves.

  • IanS


    Fair enough. Just to be clear, I’m not AGT and I don’t take his position. My only point, which was relevant to this thread, was that the bike lane wasn’t really a “green” initiative. FWIW.

    I am curious to know why the City removed the travel time data, though.

  • Blaffergassted

    Oh, whatever happened to the good old days when Green meant money?

  • Joe Just Joe


    Oh, whatever happened to the good old days when Green meant money?”

    It still does.

  • You want to be green, why don’t you actually densify then. The Canada line stations beckon you to do so.

  • Toby has been trying to get Strathcona declared a special green economic zone for a long time, before Gregor declared himself a mayoral candidate.

  • Mira

    Two Gregors for a Penny! Only in today’s paper…
    In the spirit of Copy & Paste Power Point presentations, useless reports and green studies advanced by the office of Multiple Public Embarrassment Relations of the City Hall of Vancouver, in the spirit of plagiarism and ripping off all this European initiatives I applaud you for your Kermit the Frog demagogy. Ah, those darn Europeans:
    Tell me it ‘s not like so. My point exactly!

  • Mira

    That link was supposed active. My bad. There you go:
    For the ones who want to find out where our elected officials are getting their “original” ideas read on…