Vancouver has a message for Canada

Vancouver is strutting more confidently since the success of the Vancouver Winter Games
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Vancouver is strutting more confidently since the success of the Vancouver Winter Games and with projections of the strongest economic growth in Canada this year. Mayor Gregor Robertson is in Toronto this week seeking to parlay that momentum into greater prominence on the national and international stage. Normally, he’d have two strikes against him: he’s a mayor, and a mayor from Vancouver. But the thinking at city hall is that with Toronto Mayor David Miller not standing for re-election and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay weakened by a civic corruption scandal, there’s a chance for a bigger role.

Robertson speaks Friday in Toronto at the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He’ll call for more federal investment, a refrain often heard by Stephen Harper, an invited conference guest.

Robertson wants more federal stimulus spending, this time directed at greening urban infrastructure. “In other countries we’re seeing massive investment in rapid transit, high-speed rail, in renewable energy and clean technology,” he told Maclean’s. “Canada has been a leader in some of those sectors but we’re being surpassed by significant federal investments in other countries.” Robertson is cashing in on Vancouver’s Olympic brand, and its goal to be the world’s greenest city by 2020. He was in New York in April, and next travels to California and China. He’s aiming for more investment into a region that already has 1,400 companies in the clean technology sector. “Hosting the greenest Olympic Games in history,” he says, “gave us an unprecedented platform.”

When former president Bill Clinton spoke in the city last week, he praised Vancouver for having the highest energy-efficient building standards in North America. “He’s paying attention,” Robertson says. Now it’s Ottawa’s turn.