Monday, October 6, 2008

Green Guide to Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria, B.C. just may be the most environmentally sensitive city in North America, which makes it a great green travel destination. It is home to Dockside Green, the world's greenest building, which boasts the highest LEED score possible -- Platinum -- and to Harbour Air Seaplanes, the first airline in North America to go carbon neutral airline.

Now, city is adding a green shopping guide for visitors that lists small, locally owned and operated businesses showcasing environmentally responsible products with a goal of fostering a greener, more sustainable economy. This green guide is called The Green Collective, and incudes stores featuring fashions and accessories, spa and body care, and food products as well as six eateries featuring organic and local products. One of these eateries is called -- appropriately -- Green Cuisine.

The Green Collective also hosts an annual Earth Day fashion show. The success of the collective recently sent green ripples all the way to Australia, and inspired the creation of a similar Green Precinct guide.

Victoria's British heritage is evident in its formal and popular afternoon tea at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel. The Fairmont chain, by the way, is one of my favorites, for its commitment to the environment, long before it was fashionable and headline-making.

The influences of Canada's Native Peoples also are evident in the hand-carved totem poles in Thunderbird Park. Be sure to check out the city's Fan Tan Alley, which once was a seedy gambling and opium center, but has been gentrified now with boutiques and art galleries. Victoria also is the gateway to some of the world's best salmon fishing, and the sea kayaking isn't bad, either.