Vancouver's economic development strategy - revealed?

Post by Mike Klassen in


The brilliant Portlandia has an job growth idea based in Slacker culture – see video

On a day where Mayor Gregor is out talking about the economic future of Vancouver, we're going to briefly talk about Vision's plan (or lack thereof) for jobs and growth for our city. Having fully embraced the Vancouver Economic Development Commission after at one time bad mouthing it, the VEDC now have swanky (and no doubt costly) new offices in Gastown. Gone are the offices once located in the downtown business district, begging the question does the VEDC need to build business connections, or have a better view of our harbour?

What's the VEDC's big focus today? You'd think we were joking if we said it was growing your own tomatoes, but we're not. Apparently the future of Vancouver's economy is summed up in two words: food policy. The VEDC have hired consultants to help Vancouver have better business opportunities surrounding food. Remember when Mayor Gregor didn't want to meet with reporters about Carlene Robbins jumping ship on January 28th? He locked himself up in a food policy meeting and refused to leave his office.

Is it entirely surprising that the man who came up with recipes for a suite of organic juices might stake Vancouver's economic future on our ability to can home-grown beets? Probably not. I've weighed in on the blog about local food supply and its importance, but become very skeptical at the suggestion we make shift Vancouver to an agrarian economy. ***See UPDATE at end of this post regarding a recent local food enterprise bankruptcy.

Mayor Dianne Watts is talking about Surrey like it's the shining beacon of the 21st Century, with double the population of today in forty years, and a robust economy where people actually make stuff. Where Surrey has a "can do" attitude, Vancouver apparently has a plan for canned peas.

The fabulous Portlandia program currently running stateside Friday nights on the IFC channel skewers some of the more outrageous aspects of slacker culture. There are some who think that the writers secretly did their research in Vancouver last year, modeling their hapless Portland mayor figure played by Kyle McLachlan after His Royal Hollyhockness.

Portlandia has an idea to help deal with the unemployment crisis, and it's brilliantly promoted in this faux-PSA that says people will be paid for finishing the sentences of others.

The Portlandia video reminds us about Vancouver's efforts at marketing the future as a Greenest City in this expensive promotional video – see it here. We of course found that the budget for this green marketing project started around $50,000, and is going up from there.

What do you think? How can Vancouver create a more robust economy and employ future generations? Leave your comments below.

UPDATE: has a full report on the bankruptcy of Home Grow-In Grocery Ltd. A number of local food growers had invested in this enterprise, and are now facing a financial hit. We recently mentioned Home Grow-In Grocery in our profile of small local café shops. We'll try to get more details for our readers on what has happened in the case of Home Grow-In Grocery Ltd., and if it will have any direct impact upon planning at Vancouver City Hall to get us to adopt to these local food networks.

- post by Mike. Follow @MikeKlassen on Twitter.


there are no words....

Well a few come to mind...WTH is wrong with the priorities of this administration.

Lets see Charlene Robbins and the death of 3 men in a flophouse fire....and on the other hand, fresh kale grown in manure.

Something is pretty stinky here and I don't think it is the manure...

Didn't mayor moonbeam commit to creating 20,000 new "green" jobs by 2020? Maybe sentence finishing can fill 19,800 of those vacancies. Ha ha.

Anybody catch the Telus tower announcement yesterday? Apparently Robertson is telling everyone he is counting those 1000 new Telus jobs in downtown Vancouver toward his "green" jobs commitment. What a joke.

How can he do that you ask? Cause the building has rooftop gardens and low flush toilets. Ha ha ha ha ha. This would be sad if it weren't true.

I canceled my Telus cel contract yesterday. Moved over to a competitor after I found out they were using my money to build Gregor's dream.

Those green jobs are grow ops in the cariboo.

One of your more ignorant posts in some time. As someone who actually pays attention to what the city is doing on economic policy and invests in the city I give you an F on this. There are problems with the Greenest City Plan for sure and it should get more discussion and testing but this suggests you have not spent two seconds thinking about it. Sad. I was looking forward to some intelligent discussion of it on this blog. For those interested in real discussion there is a Greenest City Metrics group on LinkedIn.

What can go wrong? Look how well they handled the Olympic Village. Who knows better how to supply vast quantities of food at the lowest prices: Safeway or the inhabitants of the Happy Planet?

I'll let some flaky Councillor tell me what to eat if, as and when he does the shopping and cooking for me.

The Thought of The Day

'I'm looking forward to the day when, right in the middle of me cooking the 'Lean Steak and Mushroom Salad' dish I'd realize that I'm out of Parsley. So, I'd call my neighbor Gianni from 2209, 'How you dooin' paisano? Parsley, ma' man Italiano vero per piacere'. And he'll say to me 'Topolino, you go up on the roof, West exit, to your left, five plots down, in between Forth's bed of berries and Ms. Trotsky's cucumbers. Be 'gentile'...and so it goes'

I'd plant weed. And I'm not even a smoker. Just for the fun of it. Sprinkle the seeds in between Mrs. Slibovitz's herbs. See her getting high on baby dill. Green gardens on the roof of tall buildings. Jeez.

I read all these statements and I can't help it. What a bunch of circus monkeys these people making them are.

Roofs. Green roofs. Bee hives on the roofs. Another marketing campaign is on the way. If the average person would know what goes into a 'green roof' before and after they would be appalled and scared. You can put lipstick on a pig all you want, but it's still going to be a pig and smell like one.

Not anyone owns a house with a garden in the city. Some may not be able to work it anyway, or know how, or want to. The neighborhood plots are a joke, and an eyesore. I especially like those on top of former Gas Stations at major intersections like the one at Davie and Burrard. I was told that the green onions grown there taste like bamboo roots dipped in moose droppings; goes well if you are partial to Bullshit.

And speaking of Bullshit, when it's the City going to come clean with letting us know how much money they are loosing when allowing these phony developers to change the designation of their development site from a 'building development site' into a 'temporary city park' or 'enjoyment spice garden' and by doing that sucking dry hundreds of thousands of dollars from City coffers?

Funny thing is, everyone is an expert when they have no clue what they are talking about. And on this list of experts I include Robertson, Ballem, Aufochs, and most of their Vision brothers; mouth pieces...yes, that, they are.

Why don't you people go and fornicate your backyard chicken policies instead of us? But do it humanely, please we are Canadians!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Does anyone have any information as to the long term effects of the extra weight,and moisture on rooftops from the gardens, as well as the rodent problem from the compost...


Look into it. Green roofs done well last longer and are stronger than typical roofs. This isn't some patch of grass with water leaking everywhere.

Your assumption that there will be a rodent problem is based on...?

I asked the question to get answers from folks with info, your sarcasm can take a hike... as for the rodents that comes from a visual on my part..

for the record, I have commercial experience working on living walls, the results were disastrous...

What sarcasm? I just said go research it. Green roofs aren't your grandads green roof anymore.

Anecdotal stories are great and all but...

again boo
I'll pass on your passive aggressive response. If you don't have an answer then don't respond please take the time to READ..
I asked for opinions from someone with experiences, not your sarcastic quips... I'm intelligent enough to research if that is what I wanted, I prefer to hear personal experiences...obviously from your responses you have none..

This is exactly the reason why we need to get out and vote this november. If this fool is re-elected this city is done. I am moving to surrey and the rest of you can enjoy high taxes with nothing to show..cept more bike lanes!

You want factual information and are intelligent enough to research it but prefer anecdotal tales?

Ok there...

The Green Thought of The Day

''Green Roof' is the euphemism for the 'It cost more, may not be the right one for you, but it will increase your social status'. See? All that replaced with 'green roof.''

Ask a green roof peddler and he'll convince you that you must have a green roof over your head. They will tell you about its insulating capacity and other benefits and you will quickly decide on having one.

Checklist for Boohoozos

- check whether you have the apt roof to develop it as a green roof
- check whether it is needed in a climate of the place where you live in
- check how economical it is to have one and whether it really has as many benefits

Green roofs are good for countries with a hot and dry climate but cannot be of much use in country with a wet or cold climate such as here on the West coast of British Columbia.

Most of the year it rains and if we go by scientific logic, that might result in your house consuming more energy and releasing more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, instead of saving it.

Reports say that in United Kingdom for example, replacing your energy consuming lights with CFLs or bulbs that save energy can help in reducing the carbon emissions of your house much more than is saved by turning your roof green.

In climates like that the green roofs are not efficient insulators. This is because the water-logging of the soils expel the air pockets that trap the heat. It looses out heat also because the presence of plants help in keeping their surroundings cool.

Setting of a green roof also requires certain conditions in the absence of which they will not work well. Roofs need to be inclined at 30 degrees and not more in order to really be efficient.

Another aspect you might wish to consider while considering a green roof is the cost. It’s indeed an expensive deal to install a green roof to start with, especially the ones where you can plant trees. You will also need to invest a lot in its maintenance both in terms of time and money as a green roof will need regular weeding, trimming, mowing and watering.


Duck me! It's raining again today in Vancouver. Good for your green roof, and for the ducks, and for the seagulls and for the snowdrops in Stanley park. For you, not so much, ask BC Hydro if you don't believe me!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Next time you cut and paste from a website you should really give credit there glissy.

Now as for your points:

much more info here:

No, they aren't for everyone. To dismiss them cause it rains a lot here...silly.

@ F H Leghorn

What you are forgetting is that Safeway sells food everyone needs with a surprisingly small profit margin and is therefore part of the boring old economy. Happy Planet, however, is able to market a 95% water luxury product at up to about $35 a litre. Clearly this is the green business model, making a load of cash for a few people out of next to nothing, that represents our city's future.

What else did you expect when you elect a bunch of rank amateurs?

@boo : "To dismiss them cause it rains a lot here...silly."

Cost of Green Roof - premium
Cost of Structural Upgrade to hold weight: premium
Cost of Insuring a Green Roof: Priceless

For some things there's homeowner's insurance; for everything else there's... wait.... there's well, um... er ..... no insurance.

The construction sector (save deep-pocketed public sector projects) currently dismiss Green Roofs because the insurance providers still don't tend to touch them with a 40-foot lodge pole hued from second growth forest grown on Cortes Island and fertilized personally by Gregor Robertson's own ... you get the picture.

Zurich Underwriters have gone so far now as to avoid coverage because... and catch the irony .... possibility of drought in summer increases the risk the shrubbery on top will catch fire!!!!

Tomorrow's lesson: the index of refraction and how gravel ballast is unsuitable despite its refractivity because as of now there is no CSA- approved roof gravel on the market (not joking kids!)

The Thought of The Evening

" When you are the one who wrote the article it's not called 'copy and paste' it's usually called 'editing'."

And it was for your benefit, boohoo. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but what the heck, just so you'll know, I was part of the concept design team for the Bedzed Development in London, UK from 1999 to 2001.

I also advised on the VCC West 'Gre(y)en Roof', as per one of Raymond Louie's favourite lines 'the money was there, so it was a go!'

I'd rather paint all the roof tops 'white' - you do your own research on why, on this one. I suggested it many times during long meetings with city bureaucrats. They looked at me as if I just flashed them in public. How come 'white' when they wanted 'green'?

I stand by my previous comment and BTW, after living in Britain 6 out of the last 20 years, all I have to say is that if they are complaining about rain they should come live here.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Your links to BCIT are nice, one thing though, they are in the business of selling higher level education to kids that don't know Jack! After Campbell god-fathered Capilano and Kwantlen in 2008 as Universities, the competition for students became fierce. Having SFU and UBC nearby doesn't help either.
You already have to go to school to become a Certified janitor. It's only a matter of time till one of the above institutions will offer a 'Diploma in Baby Sitting' a 'Certificate in Public Breastfeeding' or Solomon forbid a 'hollyhock Apprenticeship Program'.

I'll attend the one in the middle. New skills are always welcome. I also tell my kids, education is Bliss, lead by example!

So because insurance companies are behind the times we shouldn't try new things? Great philosophy.

Hey, white roofs would be good too--you don't need to educate me on the pros and cons. My point was to your silly generalization that rainy climates = bad places for green roofs.

ps. Couldn't go one post without somehow tying this bizarrely into gregor eh?

"So because insurance companies are behind the times we shouldn't try new things?"

This seems to be the philosophy of the green movement all justified by the spectre of global warming - our future is so dire we must try anything to save the world without considering the consequences. Examples - subsidized biofuels which is going to make feeding a growing population more difficult (no, local gardens are not going to solve this). Subsidized wind and solar power which will not supply our energy needs since alternatives are needed when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. Investing in segregated bicycle lanes, pretending that a form of recreation can actually meaningfully contribute to our transportation needs.

As for green roofs, it is just not common sense to cover the roof over your head with dirt and vegetation. But then many of the green initiatives lack common sense.

It's time that the environmental issues are taken away from the eco-nuts and focused back on the very real degradation of the environment that is happening in the developing countries.

Wow Bill, lol at 'common sense'. What about the way we do things now makes 'common sense'?

@ Boo- what a BS statement. It is because I tried to work with COV on a green roof in the private sector that I know how it goes down. Philosophy has NOTHING to do with the economic realities of development. I know the current outcome from project experience, and it is exactly what I said (including the underwriters' fear of a roof fire because of drought - there are things a person just cannot make up). And furthermore, without the backing of the insurance companies, residential construction in this province is unsellable (this is an HPO requirement).

Coming from the perspective of someone who works in private sector development and has worked on projects that abandoned green roof proposals in the past, I merely point out what EXPERIENCE has taught me. Without Insurance coverage (currently unattainable for residential sector) no such developer is going to touch it.
All the test data and experiments and precedents in the world are not moving the insurance industry to change. The only residential project left in this city with a true Green Roof is the OV, and we know how that turned out.

This does leave us with other options to reduce emissivity (refractance- to combat urban heat sink). We can use 'white paint' ( actually a specialty product but glad it was brought up - and side-bar to Glissy - I am developing a man-crush on you), gravel ballast (not really an option in spite of its optimal performance due to the lack of CSA -approved gravel - again not joking) or specific roof pavers tested and approved for emissivity.On the last project I completed we opted for the pavers at a $25K extra hit for roof ballast, due in part to the unwillingness of COV to accept regular gravel and in part because the white paint Glissy refers to, although less expensive, tends to look like a whitewash and in this wt environment will run, support algae growth (the true green roof) and generally look like doo-doo 5 years down the road.

So I repeat - no green roofs for private sector development in the residential sector until you see significant change in thinking by the insurance underwriters.

@ cooperators agent
thanks that was exactly the anecdotal information I was looking for...

thanks for the honest, enlightening and humorous look at the situation, again exactly the anecdotal satirical voice I was looking for ... so much more enjoyable than looking up those nasty old sqewed stats!!

Thank you gentleman..

"so much more enjoyable than looking up those nasty old sqewed stats!!"

Makes me cringe to think people make decisions with this mindset.

"no green roofs for private sector development in the residential sector until you see significant change in thinking by the insurance underwriters."

Great, then let's change the bloody thinking. Why are we so stuck?

Bylaw in Toronto that buildings over a certain size have green roofs.

Oh and here's more nasty 'facts' about green roofs from Toronto--that well known leftwing, hippy mecca.

you are singing to a choir of crickets wearing ear muffs BOOHOO...
we aren't interested..

I have first hand experience and have heard here what I needed (wanted to hear)...what you have to say doesn't interest me.

When you learn to debate without the sarcasm and show some respect to fellow posters,you might get some credibility...until such a time...not so much.

"...and have heard here what I needed (wanted to hear)...what you have to say doesn't interest me."

lol George. What's the point in asking a question if you're only willing to listen to the answer you want to hear?

and your opinion makes so much more sense..

Makes me cringe to think people make decisions with this mindset.

"no green roofs for private sector development in the residential sector until you see significant change in thinking by the insurance underwriters."

Great, then let's change the bloody thinking. Why are we so stuck?

So anyone that doesn't share your opinion makes you cringe(discriminatory, no democracy here)...and in your opinion only you are right and everyone needs to change their mind to keep you from cringing...

hummm the more you open your mouth boo the more idiotic you appear..

there goes the deafening sound of that choir of crickets!!


Your leaps of logic and/or total failure at reading comprehension are outstanding.

What makes me cringe is your belief that anecdotal stories are a better indicator of something than 'sqewed stats' as you put it. Followed up by your statement that you're only willing to listen to the answers you want to hear. Sounds like your mind is firmly shut.

If you're going to call me idiotic, at least have a clue what you're talking about.

Not to rain further on the parade to green, but: from

"Grass-covered 'green roof' collapses in St. Charles"

"The 256,000-square-foot Aquascape Inc. warehouse featured the "largest sloping green roof in North America," according to the company's website.

On Sunday, a section of the roof that ran the length of the building and extended over a parking lot collapsed at the pond construction and supply company. The section appeared to be about 50 feet wide.

No one was injured by the collapse, which company officials said in a news release was likely the result of an ice dam that prevented water from the rapidly melting snow from draining off the roof.

The roof, he said, had about 6 inches of a lightweight soil mix on it, but he said he didn't know whether the added weight of the soil may have contributed to the collapse."

To summarize:
This scares developers, building owners, building managers AND insurance underwriters.

To change the thinking as Boo advocates means changing the entire liability mindset. The city is on board, and many designers are too. Builders and developers are skeptical, but remove the liability and/or provide the insurance and you move into their comfort zone.

The people who need to be convinced are the underwriter and regulatory bodies like HPO... this incident does not provide them with a whole lot of comfort.


'BOSTON — This week’s two-day storm is gone, but the state’s roofs are still feeling the impact.

There were multiple reports of roofs collapsing under the weight of snow across Massachusetts Thursday, adding to an unprecedented list of post-storm structural failures. There have been more than 70 collapses reported this week.'

Does this scare insurance companies?

Does regular roof collapse scale insurers as much as green roof collapse? No. Not as much. That is why it isn't as newsworthy.

New technology + failure = a search for liability within the new technology (the entire construction industry revolves currently around this paradigm) . This roof collapse is a 'Black Swan' event that reinforces the unwillingness to move forward in the insurance industry.

If you want to change the thinking of that industry yourself, be my guest. You are more than welcome to put your $ where your mouth is.

I have - with a willing municipality, favourable policies and a willing developer. Our efforts got us bupkis.

We need more than your weblinks in order to affect social change.

Sounds like a lot of excuses and reasons not to do something...I'll pass on that line of thinking.

The I look forward to seeing you join those who actively pressure the insurance industry and HPO and work for change.

The City of Vancouver, the design community and the developers are already where they need to be, but that has proven to be not enough. Not making excuses - just telling you the truth.

Good luck with the HPO, eh?

@ boo-
sorry - should read "THEN I look forward to seeing you join those who actively pressure the insurance industry and HPO and work for change"

Let me know how the change from passive sarcasm to positive action works for you. .. and don't forget to advise me should you have more success with the underwriting community and the HPO than I did in my attempts to bring a green roof to COV

Check out!

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