People around the world know Victoria as the City of Gardens. And yes, we have beautiful gardens and finely manicured lawns and blooming flowers almost all year long. 

People who are not from the Pacific Northwest also think of the Pacific Northwest as a place where environmentalists rule the day. It’s easy to imagine that living in a place where nature takes so much space would make people want to preserve it as much as possible.

But among the Victoria sewage treatment plant controversy, the problems with the Victoria kitchen scraps program, we begin to wonder: is Victoria as green as it thinks it is? Here are some statistics to help clarify this a little.

Solid waste

Residential garbage makes up approximately 4,800 tonnes of waste sent to the Hartland landfill each year. Numbers from 2007 show close to 70,000 tonnes of solid waste produced every year, which includes commercial and industrial waste sent to the landfill or incinerator.

In general, BC still produces less waste per person than the Canadian average: 676kg vs 791kg (that was in 2004). In the same year, they also recycled more waste than the average Canadian.

In general, Victoria produces less waste and recycles more than the Canadian average.

CO2 emissions

Victoria’s total CO2 emission rate is about 5 tonnes per capita; the Canadian average is 18 tonnes and the US average close to 20. This definitely puts Victoria at the top of the pack when it comes to emissions.

However, 47.1% of Victorians still commute by car, with an extra 5.2% using carpool (2006 numbers). 12.6% use public transit.

One thing to be proud of, however, is the 9.5% of commuters that bike, compared to 2% in all of BC, and the 23.4% who walk (BC average being 7%). We definitely have a higher percentage of walkers and bikers than most of BC and Canada.

In the CO2 emissions category and commuting stats, Victoria does very well when compared to the province and country.

Parks and green space

Victoria has 1.62 square kilometres of parks and green space—but that’s just within the limits of the City of Victoria and doesn’t account for the large spaces in Saanich and the West Shore. There are 2.03 hectares of parkland for every 1000 Victoria citizens; Winnipeg has 6.1, Ottawa 8, Toronto 3.24 and Montreal 1.2.

Victoria seems to have a low rate of parkland compared to other Canadian cities, but this impression is misleading because of other major parks and green space in close proximity but in other municipalities. 

Conclusion: Yep, Victoria is pretty green

Given these statistics, we can see that Victoria is greener than the average Canadian city. That’s something to be proud of, but it’s also not a call to sit on our laurels. Let’s help make it better by reusing and recycling more, composting our kitchen scraps and leaving our car at home when walking or biking can do.