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Green grid: Known as Hollywood North for its role in many a movie and television show, Vancouver could have gone the way of Los Angeles' sprawl. But the better angels of this high-rise, high-tech community have kept the surrounding nature natural and the city dense, which is how the residents like it. Vancouver recently started allowing "laneway housing" (additional dwellings built between freestanding buildings), encourages basement apartments, and has given the green light to subrental agreements that increase the number of people per square foot downtown. It also enforces the greenest building code in North America.
Living city: Vancouver's sustainability plans may seem a bit wonkish, but a dry eco-town it ain't: The city's Wild West port-town heritage lives with its rowdy nightlife, which ranges from lounges like Afterglow to the kitschy Pop Opera nightclub. Part of the fun lies in not worrying about the drive home: Trolleys serve the downtown area, and Granville Island—home to the Public Market, one of North America's best farmers' markets—is closed to cars on summer weekends. That's not just for drinking-and-driving reasons: The city's effort to reduce greenhouse gases includes making driving as annoying as possible.
Sustainable stay: Combining artiness (there are Gallery Floors full of paintings on loan) with a real commitment to green energy (a zero-waste policy was instituted in August 2011), the 129-room Listel Hotel is easy on the eyes and conscience.
The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Tel: 604 684 8461