Vancouver mayor: Cities are 'most entrepreneurial level of government'

The mayor of Vancouver discusses how the Canadian metropolis has made strides to revamp itself as a smart and connected city.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson asserts that his city's economy will be the fastest growing of any city in Canada, adding that defies the myth that you can't be green and prosperous at the same time.

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"Our goal is to be a mecca for green enterprise. We're not alone in that," asserted Robertson, while speaking at Meeting of the Minds 2012 on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the British Columbia city has "an enormous amount of expertise" to offer.

For example, Robertson cited that Vancouver has a hydroelectric power infrastructure, making 90 percent of electricity produced green and renewable.

Robertson described that Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, is constrained by land between the North Shore Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.-Canadian border. Thus, as the city grows exponentially, that requires some creative thinking about how to sustain that growth without wasting and running out of resources.

"Cities are all about action. We are the most entrepreneurial level of government," Robertson remarked.

Robertson described to the keynote audience about how city leaders have transformed Vancouver into a connected and smarter city by engaging neighborhood-based community groups, universities, public agencies and private enterprises.

As a result, Robertson affirmed that the pioneering changes within Vancouver have provided for enhanced urban sustainability as well as better livability in the Canadian port city.

Specifically, Robertson said that part of his campaign platform four years ago was to transform Vancouver into the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Some of the 2020 challenge goals include:

  • Creating 12,000 new green jobs (i.e. in public buildings, waste management and looking into renewable energy)
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent
  • Reducing the per capita foot print by 33 percent
  • Reducing waste to landfill or incinerators by 50 percent
  • Ensuring that every person lives within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway or other natural space
  • Increasing food assets by 50 percent

Action is the key piece, Robertson said, explaining how something as simple as a safe bike lane downtown can make a difference very quickly.

When there are "good strong partnerships" along with "a commitment to that bigger goal," Robertson concluded that Vancouver will remain one of the world's most livable cities.

Photo: Kris Krug/Tourism Vancouver

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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