Vancouver’s Enviromental Jobs on the Rise

Listen up, soon-to-be-grads, I’ve got a secret to tell you that will certainly affect your career path. Our city now wants to be known to the world as the next emerging green city – branded as “Vancouver, Green Capital” by Mayor Gregor Robertson in a new economic strategy, unveiled on September 30, 2009. The strategy includes the creation of a “low carbon economic development zone.” In other words, get ready to be part of this new economy of green collar jobs, because the green economy is rapidly evolving.

“Low carbon economic development zones” have been created in other cities around the world and have been very effective. Now Vancouver is dedicating what was previously industrial land, such as coal factories, and turning that land into a low carbon zone. This, in turn, creates incentives for more green companies to set up shop in Vancouver. The planning committee for this new economic strategy estimates that 50,000 new jobs will be created by 2020, and at least two fifths of those jobs are expected to be in the green sector.

There is now a targeted approach for companies that have been thriving in the green sector to come and set up here. The old business park model will be put to use, but for green companies such as clean and renewable energy technology companies. “Vancouver will be a hub for this” says Kevin Quinlan, Executive Assistant to the Mayor’s office, “this, in turn will create more green jobs”.

“Hundreds of cities are trying to own the economy of the future and that economy is the green economy,” says Andrea Reimer, Vancouver City Councillor. Councillor Reimer has been a long time Green Party member, as well as a member of the planning committee for this new economic strategy. “We want to keep economic leaders and thought leaders here in Vancouver.” She believes with this new green initiative the city will accomplish this goal.

The advantage that many grads have lies in the mindset that we’ve grown up with. There’s a new mentality for this generation. People in their 20’s and 30’s tend to be more aware and conscious of social sustainability issues. How does this translate to the job market? Those very skill sets are still required: “When approaching companies in your job search” Kevin Quinlan suggests, “look to see how the company operates. Do they have a triple bottom line: planet, people, profit?” This can be challenging in today’s job market, admits Kevin, however the city is expecting the job market to really rebound after the Olympics. Which is why it ought to be a great time for grads.

“Trends over the past few years have definitely been heading towards the green movement, and no matter what industry you end up in, the environment is there and we need to protect it” says Sarah Silvester, a 4th year business student at Capilano U, who has been involved with Greenpeace since 2003 and helped initiate the Campus Sustainability Network at Cap U along with the Energy Manager, Susan Doig. This network was formed to bring together students, faculty and staff that are concerned about the environment and would like to make Capilano U a leading institution in sustainability. With her current community involvement, Sarah is getting a jump start in building her skills and gaining invaluable experience within the green sector.

“The economy that is emerging will depend on people who can think in broad big picture ways, so it’s quite critical to not be too narrow in your field” advises Councillor Reimer. Simply monitoring financial bottom lines is slowly coming to an end. “There will be an expectation from the public that corporations are good citizens, are positive for the environment and social economy” says Councillor Reimer.

Third and  fourth year students, if you’re starting to think about your future career path,  specifically considering the green sector, take a look at Eco Canada’s website at For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, why not create your own green job? A great place to start is As Councillor Reimer points out, “There are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs. Most businesses are looking for innovative solutions for environmental problems. If you have ideas, people are interested to talk to you.”

//Bahar Taheri

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