Destination Vancouver: When a metropolis like Vancouver shoulders an action plan to be the greenest city by 2020, other cities will have to step up their game if they want to play in the big leagues. Vancouver is nestled in British Columbia, Canada, one of the most verdant places in the world. Outdoor enthusiasts come here for top notch hiking, skiing and angling.
The Pacific Rim National Park and Whistler are magnificent spots to encounter natural beauty, and the city of Vancouver is beautifully incorporating sustainable initiatives. Their action plan includes curbing carbon emissions, reducing waste and balancing ecosystems.
Vancouver is also implementing a climate adaptation plan for rising sea levels, an urban forest management program, and are working towards a back-up power policy.
Victoria, a mere 45 minute ferry ride from Vancouver, is an historical beauty, as well as a eco-friendly city. These sister cities prove that sustainability and style go hand in hand.
Eco-Friendly Hotels in Vancouver and Victoria
The Westin Grand- Vancouver City
This modern gem has many features to delight the conscious traveler. Its clean, modern architecture caters to those who want style and convenience. Located downtown on Robson Street, it has stunning views of the city. The Westin Grand has earned a Green Key rating from the Hotel Association of Canada and Eco-Leaf rating from istaygreen.org.
Their conservation efforts include master switches to turn off all the lights as you leave your room and high efficiency bulbs throughout the hotel. They are one of the few hotels to use salt-water extraction for their outdoor pool and hot tub.
Their waste minimization program includes recycling, hazardous waste control, a styrofoam elimination program and organic waste management for their kitchen.
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The Fairmont Waterfront- Vancouver City
Few hotels have packaged their sustainable features so well as The Fairmont. You will be instantly drawn to their programs and staff. The hotel features a rooftop herb garden for their kitchen. They’ve also partnered with local fishermen to make sure the catch is sustainably sourced, and hotel restaurant, ARC, is Ocean-Wise certified.
More notably, in partnership with RecycleSmart, they are on a mission to be 100% waste free and will be 90% there by the end of 2016. The most exciting feature is the apiary on the 3rd floor terrace.
The hotel has partnered with Hives for Humanity to facilitate pollination and community engagement, and a ‘bee butler’ gives daily summer tours to visitors.
Did we mention that the hotel is on the waterfront and has amazing views of the harbor? Just another reason why The Fairmont is a top choice in Vancouver.
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Eco-Friendly Tours and Activities in Vancouver
City trips can be surprisingly enjoyable and healthy – if you know where to go. Here are our top tips of activities in Vancouver, BC:
Island life is appealing wherever you are, but an island within an island….now, that’s a whole other experience. Granville Island is right off the English Bay between Downtown Vancouver and the rest of the city. It’s a cultural hub for locals and travelers alike.
The Public Market is the main draw, as it houses artisan, locally made wares and food. If you are looking for sustainably sourced souvenirs, this is a hot spot! The island has also been a zero waste island from day one.
The buildings have all been re-purposed, there is an eliminated food scraps collection, electric car charging stations throughout, a series of smart meters to measure the island’s consumption, and more. In 2014 Granville received the Public Sector award for excellence and leadership in environmental practices. The urban hub is also home to a University and Arts Center. Granville Island is a must see if you’re traveling to Vancouver. Website
Stanley Park- Vancouver
The massive Seawall that spans Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s largest attractions. The stone wall was built to protect the park’s foreshore from erosion and is about 9km long. It’s part of a larger 28km waterfront path that is, in fact, the largest uninterrupted path in the world. With several beaches and 400 hectares of natural rainforest, Stanley Park is biodiversity at its best. Website
Queen Elizabeth Park- Vancouver
A 15 min transit ride will take you to the horticultural marvel known as Queen Elizabeth Park. It’s the highest point in Vancouver, which allows for some great photo ops and breathtaking views of the city. The Bloedel Conservatory is also situated in the park. The conservatory is home to over 200 free flying, tropical birds and 500 exotic plants. Website
Eagle Wing Tours- Victoria
Whale watching has a fraught environmental history, but Eagle Wing Tours is looking to change that. In fact, they are the first 100% carbon neutral whale tour operator in Canada. The company’s catamaran boats reduce underwater sound and shore erosion. They also use ‘lean burn’ gasoline that has the lowest emissions and meets international carbon neutrality requirements.
Eagle Wing can also boast awards from several sustainable tourism organizations. It’s a great option for those who want to experience these majestic creatures in their natural habitat without harming their ecosystem. Website
Bike Tours in Vancouver and Victoria
Bike enthusiasts will surely love Vancouver and the many bike tour options.
Cycle City Tours-Vancouver
Cycle City Tours tops the list, offering a ‘Grand Tour’ of the city and taking you on a “best of the best” ride. The bike path goes through Stanley Park where you can visit the seawall and rainforest. Other stops include Granville Island, Olympic Village and Chinatown. Website
The Pedaler Bike Tour- Victoria
Victoria is a must see if you are staying in Vancouver. You will need to get there by ferry, but once you’ve arrived you’d be remiss not to see it by bike! Pedaler tours makes your pedaling fun with tours centered around food, castles, beer and even a family 2 wheel bike option. You can also rent a bike at your own leisure from them. Website
Bike Hike Adventures- Coast to Coast
If you’re looking for a more involved adventure, why not try BikeHike Adventures’ 5-day tour of Vancouver Island? You will go shore to shore on this adventure and get to experience all the beauty of the rugged coast. The tour includes stays at B&B’s, hiking, kayaking, wildlife excursions, wine tastings and more.
This adventure is for those who are in the area for a longer stay and want to add the Vancouver coastline to their trip. Dates are limited and, as with any bike tour, prepare to plan far in advance. Website
Images courtesy of Tourism Vancouver, creative commons, Green Suitcase Travel
This page on eco-friendly things to do and places to stay in Vancouver was curated by Misty Foster, our expert for North America and owner/manager of Green Suitcase Travel – a boutique online travel agency specialized in trips centered around sustainability and eco-tourism.
Green Suitcase Travel promotes local and women owned and operated businesses throughout the world. Health and well-being component can be added upon request.
Contact Misty at Green Suitcase Travel for your custom-tailored, eco-friendly city trip to New York or any other city in the US.
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