Vancouver Mayor mulls over green recommendations

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Thermal scanning Vancouver homes to detect energy wasters is one idea being proposed by Mayor Robertson's Greener City Action Team

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to review the minutes for Mayor Robertson’s Green City Action Team (GCAT). was able to obtain this document through a Freedom of Information request we filed a while ago. The minutes were not posted on the Mayor’s website for public review.

I would encourage every Vancouverite to take a gander at what the Mayor and his hand-picked advisors have been brainstorming over at 12th and Cambie. A complete copy of the minutes can be found by clicking here.

What first struck me is how extensive the ideas and suggestions are from the assembled group who began meeting a couple of months ago. To be fair, there are some pretty interesting ideas that if implemented would most certainly help Vancouver become the “greenest city in the world”. However, one can also hope we don’t implement this at the expense of our local economy.

If all of these recommendations were implemented, they will most certainly change the landscape of Vancouver, forever. Which one assumes is the Mayor’s goal with all of this. In random order, here are some of the more interesting excerpts from the minutes we obtained:

GCAT is clearly thinking big:

The GCAT will have a Global impact...

The Mayor’s Chief of staff Mike Magee is quoted as saying he wants to:

develop a culture in the city to be intolerant to non-green actions...

There are no specific references in the minutes to how the City will become “intolerant” under Magee’s plan. However, I guess we’ll have to wait for the news release to get all the details on that one.

GCAT appointee Linda Nowlan states Vancouver:

needs to have the greenest laws...

Donna Clark states Vancouver needs:

...a transit system that is smart and free

Former NPA City councillor Gord Price takes a side-swipe at drivers by stating:

fight Motordom city where auto and dealership seems to rule like a kingdom

Former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt chimes in that Vancouver will need:

450 million extra federal, municipal, provincial investments per year

Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer wags her finger at parents who drive their kids to school by stating:

Most kids live close to school where they do not need to be dropped off by a car

There goes that Happy Planet thing again...

The following are a number of other recommendations the Mayor is currently contemplating:

  • Utilize thermal imaging to identify energy wasters
  • Buy solar panels for city buildings and schools
  • Take unused lawn at City Hall and covert it into a demo community garden as an example to the public (NOTE: This one is already in progress...boy does the Mayor move fast!)
  • Maintain Olympic transportation regime after Olympics
  • Commit to water metering
  • Ban paper cups, non-reusable food takeout, and plastic bags
  • Increasing parking fees
  • Trip coordinator to assist kids in walking to and from school
  • Review City’s land ownership and convert certain percentage to community gardens
  • Promote green hotels – using international certification. Europeans are willing to pay more for green hotels.
  • Ban pesticides and eliminate use on City property
  • Citizen forester program – cultivate trees
  • Pedestrian only corridors
  • 1-2% of parking converted to public transport each year
  • Team up with VANOC to eliminate paper cups and market own corporate cup refilled for discount
  • German model of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal
  • Reinstate big object pickup program
  • Adopting “eco” budget model as they do in European cities

Under the category of summary of the day’s output, the minutes read:

  • Need to get into things into action. Focus efforts to get the fastest action and focus to get the biggest and most reaction.
  • Decisions are hard but need to back them up and engage citizens. Media told them they have been let down. Need to get political system on our side.

Under the heading of “What’s missing in group 3” someone states:

Where will the money come from? Auditing own investment stream and how to reinvest back into the City.

Of course there was also a dose of communications in the overall discussion.

Do you announce the plan all at once or roll them out one at a time?

In relation to the controversial decision to close down two lanes of the Burrard Street Bridge, the minutes state:

Burrard Street Bridge – need discussion specifically on this high profile initiative before it goes live. Anyone interested should talk to Penny Ballem and Gordon Price.

Is it just me, or do you not find it odd that one of the most controversial initiatives undertaken by Vision is now being led by the City Manager and a former NPA councillor? Hmmm...this may be a smart move on Vision’s part to help deflect criticism from many West-Side voters. Don’t count on it working.

GCAT also makes the following observation about YVR and the Port of Vancouver:

With Vancouver Port and YVR, what’s the greenhouse reduction plan? The ships that are waiting out there are emitting more pollution than vehicles.

What we have provided you is a small snapshot of what’s being discussed in the Mayor’s office vis a vis future environmental initiatives for Vancouver. I would encourage you to read all the minutes if you have the time (it’s a quick read with only about 10 pages of notes).

In the coming weeks, you can expect the communications effort to ramp up big time convincing you why Robertson’s 10-year plan will help to make Vancouver the “greenest city in the world." For the planet’s sake, let’s hope Robertson and his team get this one right.


Nothing sounds too far fetched there. Actually a decent list of ideas - though I suspect collectively they don't quite go far enough as to coin Vancouver the world's "Greenest City". There's nothing too revolutionary or outstanding, all things considered.

You don't need thermal scanners to find energy wasters, especially in the winter. Just look for where the pigeons sit on the roofs - they'll go to the heat.

How much is this all going to cost? Thermal imaging of people's homes? Do they plan on having vans drive up and down our streets with the thermal image equipment? If they do, I hope it's a hybrid van. I love the pigeon thing, didn't know that.

I think banning take out containers may well cause a revolution. We'll see.

If Gregor enacts even 10% of all this, it will make Gordo's carbon tax look like a walk in the park.

I lot of hoopla and at the end of the day, my guess is, they'll just raise parking fees.

Of course they'll do this before there is meaningful transit improvements from the West Side to downtown. So long as it takes 45 minutes sitting next to drunks with garbage bags full of cans dripping on your suit, blathering anti-semitism....vs. 13 minutes by car....I guess i get to pay another $100/month to not catch flus and colds every week.

SEFC Project office has a new project manager. Bill aujla

Thermal imaging allows us to see wasted energy leakage normally not visible to the human eye. Blower door tests will tell you how much your home is leaking but only thermal imaging will show you where. A one hour energy audit will help make your home the most efficient on the block and save on heating costs. Have a look at our website for other applications at


For what it's worth, if you review the Mayor's comments, it looks like he has already dismissed the idea of thermal imaging.

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