City councillors approved Vancouver's ambitious Greenest City Action Plan on Thursday, but a former B.C. premier who helped develop the plan already says it doesn't go far enough.

Mike Harcourt is calling for the city to eliminate zoning for single-family homes.

"For the last 30 years, 75 per cent of the new housing that's being constructed has been multi-family. So we're already moving to multi-family housing out of necessity," said Harcourt.

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The City of Vancouver has approved a new plan aimed at making it the greenest city in the world by 2020. (City of Vancouver)

The city has already adopted measures that allow homeowners to build laneway houses  on single family lots and to legalize basement suites under its eco-density charter.

"So I'm saying let's be upfront about it. I'd get rid of single family zoning because housing is too unaffordable," he said.

Long-term strategy aims to reduce city's footprint

The Greenest City Action Plan is a broad, long-term strategy to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. It was launched  by Mayor Gregor Robertson in 2009

Specific goals include:

  • Reducing the city's ecological footprint.
  • Reducing vehicle traffic and increasing bike, foot and public transit trips.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Encouraging local food production.
  • Reducing waste going into landfills.
  • Building greener buildings. 
  • Increasing easy access to nature and parks
  • Improving air and water quality
  • Doubling the number of so-called green jobs in industries like water conservation and clean energy.

Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, who also helped develop the plan, says jobs in green industries could be key to the city's future growth.

"Worldwide, green jobs are outpacing other kinds of economic development three to one," Reimer said earlier this week.

There's no word yet on what the Greenest City Action Plan will cost taxpayers and many of the ideas have been dismissed by its opponents.

Mayoral candidate and Councillor Suzanne Anton says the city would be better off growing the industries that already thrive in B.C. like forestry and mining.