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How British Columbia leads the world in sustainability

November 20, 2020 Visit USA No Comments

With the United Nations declaring 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Canada’s western province of British Columbia continues to blaze a trail for prioritising environmental initiatives and inclusive economic growth and innovation.

Cities throughout British Columbia have introduced pioneering initiatives ranging from Canada’s first net zero multi-unit residential building to recognition as the first biosphere destination in the Americas.

Olympic Village, Vancouver

Vancouver, a model for sustainable urban planning, is on track to become the Greenest City in the world. With the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of any major city in North America, Vancouver runs on more than 90 percent renewable energy, thanks to the city’s large supply of hydroelectricity.

Olympic Village, Canada’s first net zero multi-unit residential building, uses solar heating, green roofs and other systems that cultivate an energy-efficient ecosystem where people live, work, play and learn.

From kayaking False Creek and checking out the Craft Beer Market, to riding the Aquabus mini-ferry to bustling Granville Island, visitors to the Olympic Village have much to explore.

Thompson Okanagan Valley

British Columbia’s Thompson Okanagan region, famous for its world-class wineries and progressive culinary scene, achieved recognition as the first “biosphere destination” in the Americas, a certification awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute, recognising the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the region as a tourism destination.

Recently, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) became a founding signatory with the Future of Tourism Coalition, an international coalition set on shaping the future of tourism by cultivating healthy, inclusive communities and environmental stewardship.

Whether scaling the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, wine tasting at one of over 200 wineries in Canada’s only desert, or cross-country skiing along snowy winter trails, visitors can’t get enough of this this beautiful, natural outdoor playground.

Great Bear Rainforest

Along the coast of British Columbia lies the largest tract of unspoiled temperate rainforest on Earth, the Great Bear Rainforest.

Local First Nations, government, environmental groups and forest companies have collaborated to maintain ecological integrity and human wellbeing of the 6.4-million-hectare ecosystem – an initiative that protects 85 percent of the forest, while creating economic opportunities for indigenous communities and providing sustainable harvesting for forest companies.

The magical Princess Royal Island in the Great Bear Rainforest is not only home to a healthy population of grizzlies, but also the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear, a sub-species of black bear found only in this part of the world carrying a recessive gene that gives them a naturally white coat.

Companies operated by the local Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations people in the nearby village of Klemtu offer tours to view the bears, while two floating lodges in the vicinity, Knight Inlet Lodge and Great Bear Lodge, also offer grizzly bear-viewing tours from spring through autumn.

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

The village of Cowichan Bay, on the coast of Vancouver Island, is North America’s first Cittaslow (Italian/English for ‘slow city’) community. The movement, founded in 1999, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in small towns (fewer than 50,000 residents), slowing down the overall pace and flow of traffic through them.

Cowichan Bay is dedicated not only to keeping the pace of life reasonable, but to working with First Nations and industry to re-establish much that has been lost in the way of culture and sustainable living in the area. For example, although the bay is no longer a source of harvestable marine life due to industrial activity, the local Cittaslow folk intend to reverse that trend.

This tiny region is a Canadian culinary hot spot, priding itself on producing artisan fare, such as all-natural, locally produced ice cream, locally-caught, sustainable seafood, breads made from Vancouver Island-grown grain, cheese created with locally-produced milk and regionally-cultivated wines and spirits.

Canada looking forward to welcoming Australian visitors once more when the time is right, guided by health regulations and clear border guidelines. Click here for COVID-19 updates.

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