Create a Green Enterprise Zone
Vancouver could establish a green enterprise zone that would serve as a magnet for the development of green business, technology, products and services.
This idea will be included in the draft Greenest City Action Plan. A Green Enterprize Zone team is establishing an area and some initial projects including two business incubators, specific infrastructure and demonstration projects.
THis is a great discussion that is moving into *how* it can be implemented. Kira noted that "The City has an internal staff team right now working through the local priorities for green zones...." I think it is really important that the City open up the planning in a formal and systematic way, moving from internal staff teams to establishing Working Groups or Task Forces that include expertise and stakeholders from the larger city and its neighbourhoods in the discussion. The BIAs come immediately to mind. We have a pretty good model with the Food Policy Council, where stakeholders from the entire food chain talk together with the City. THe VFPC is now looking at a central "Food Hub" "Neighbourhood Food Networks" - this could be linked in with broader Green Enterprise objectives.
Toby Barazzuol commented
Though it's true that the whole city should be a green zone, it seems more manageable to focus on smaller communities first to learn what works. As Saul mentioned, we are trying to develop the Strathcona Green Zone as a sustainable precinct of collaborative, progressive businesses. However even within this relatively small area of 60 square blocks, it has been challenging.
At the very least, green zones should provide services that allow companies to be "more green" - things like comprehensive recycling, zero-emissions couriers to facilitate the movement of goods, and easy access to grants or incentives for building or efficiency upgrades.
Beyond that, its important that these areas are planned and managed as ecosytems that contain businesses, artists and residents - changes affecting one group will affect other groups. Too often these decisions are made in silos, so we need to approach these zones with full systems thinking.
More creative zoning and flexibility in land use is one of the biggest ways that the city can help. That, and grants or tax breaks for organizations investing in improving the built environment.
There are no easy answers as we are all learning as we go, however now is definitely the time for creativity, vision and leadership.
Kira Gerwing commented
The City has an internal staff team right now working through the local priorities for green zones. Some of targeted goals being discussed for the green zone include things like creating 'green collar' (or low-threshold) job opportunities, fostering the growth of small-to-medium sized green businesses (including manufacturing), and incubating new technologies in key green industry sectors (like clean tech, green bldgs/urban design, waste mgmt and recycling, sustainability services like carbon trading, etc., or the local food economy).
But, the point of this site is to get ideas from the public...what do you think would be the local priorities for a green zone? What aspects of the green economy should be regulated differently, incentivised, incubated, subsidised, retrofit, piloted, demonstrated, or supported with green infrastructure?
There are many types of "green zones" in place or in development around the world, each of them with very different goals and characteristics. What are the local priorities for such areas?
Saul Brown commented
Good question Kira! A Green Enterprise Zone inspires businesses and people to collaborate and create businesses and social enterprises that improve the community. There'd be green infrastructure, like BigBelly solar trash compactors, maybe some kind of waste/heat exchange, green roofs, community gardens/social community areas, eco-industrial networking partnerships, like pallet cascading, water cascading, rain water catchment/grey water reuse.
Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship all go hand in hand. Fostering these forces together will create a hub of opportunity, like silicon valley is to tech, Vancouver could be for green business development.
In my work with businesses across Canada, many always say that the companies leading the way are all in BC. This is our opportunity for the taking.
Kira Gerwing commented
What are some of the neighbourhood characteristics for a Green Enterprise Zone? A ready and able green collar workforce (with a diversity of human resources, from high skilled through to low threshold employees with supports and training in place), a diverse, affordable, durable, and adaptable building stock (old buildings ripe for green retrofits), a range of land uses so green enterprise can include commercial, industrial, and residential endeavours, community buy-in for the GEZ concept (especially if it means accessible job opportunities for local residents. What else would a neighbourhood need to successfully host a GEZ? What nighbourhoods in Vancouver fit this bill?
The entire city should be a green enteprise zone! BUT, we need to create tools for local companies to go green. We also need to support the companies that are already doing it- like Novex Couriers- they just bought Canada's first electric trucks for their fleet and are the first carbon neutral courier service in Canada. We need to support companies that are leading the charge!
Saul Brown commented
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) has been working on the development of the Strathcona Green Zone over the last few years. It's one of the reasons why I located my business in the area. Attracting progressive businesses is key as collaboration is more powerful than competition. Learn more here: http://www.strathconabia.com/sustainability.php
Jessica Woolliams commented
I think this is a hugely important idea, and my main caveat is that green and enterprise are inclusive. Yoga is a green job, and so is nursing, as long as we can green our hospitals and their equipment. Please see my idea about encouraging diversity: http://vancouver.uservoice.com/forums/56390-gc-2020/suggestions/921637-encourage-diversity-in-the-green-economy-and-polic?ref=title
I think this is a tremendous idea, IF the GEZ (as you've called it) or more broadly an SEZ (Special Economic Zone) is tailored to LOCAL, small-medium scaled enterprise, and especially focused on creating a self-sustaining local economy. This could be a way to kick start and propagate renewables, local agriculture and food production (food security is a huge issue) among many others. It would also announce clearly to Canada and the World that we're serious. We could design and implement the first of its kind, tailored to the local. It could be a broad way to address many of the GCATs goals for the city.