Sustainability consultants take root in the Comox Valley

GreenStep Solutions operate a sustainable tourism certification program called Green Tourism Canada.

GreenStep Solutions Inc. co-founders Lindsay and Darrell Eason have expanded their company from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.

GreenStep Solutions Inc. co-founders Lindsay and Darrell Eason have expanded their company from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.

From one beautiful valley to another, GreenStep Solutions Inc. co-founders Lindsay and Darrell Eason have expanded their company from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.

“This is such a unique place,” Lindsay said. “There is so much opportunity for sustainable tourism and green business in the Comox Valley. We are very excited to continue to work with B.C. businesses from our new home base.”

Helping tourism businesses remains their focus. GreenStep runs a sustainable tourism certification program called Green Tourism Canada. It provides third-party assessments to help members minimize waste, promotes the use of local suppliers, and advises how to use water and energy efficiently. The program allocates bronze, silver and gold awards to members assessed by auditors on more than 140 measures in 11 categories.

“Vancouver Island is an eco-tourism hotspot, and we want to enhance the awareness of this on a national scale, and help businesses get a sense of what else they can do to reduce their environmental impact even further,” says Eason.

There are many attractions, whale watching and wildlife tour companies, as well as hotels and resorts certified on Vancouver Island, and a few of those members are unique.

Strathcona Park Lodge has been part of the program since 2010. Their sustainability roots run deep and owner Jamie Boulding has found that being part of Green Tourism has “helped us to stay competitive. We offer a true, off-grid experience, and with the growing competition, this certification gives us a competitive advantage.”

40 Knots is the first Island winery to become certified by the international program. Owners Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Robert Craig chose to join Green Tourism because they were “seeking assistance with furthering their business plan to be ethically and environmentally responsible and gain recognition for efforts by a recognized and reputable program.” When asked how the certification is helping them, Brenda said “Green Tourism provided expert advice regarding reductions in electricity and water consumption and offered resources for purchasing sustainable products. They created a prioritized action list for our planned work that gave us the highest impact for money savings and environmental footprint reductions.”

Other North Island members include Campbell River Whale Watching & Adventure Tours, West Coast Expeditions and Destiny River Adventures.

GreenStep is working with businesses all over the Island, with most certified members in the Capital Regional District. But “by establishing our presence up Island, we can grow the awareness of sustainable tourism here in a unique way compared to Victoria, Vancouver or the Okanagan,” adds Eason.

There are over 2,400 tourism operators certified internationally, with over 80 businesses certified or awaiting grading in B.C. The program is expanding across Canada with plans to include U.S. tourism businesses next year.

FMI www.greentourismcanada.com or contact Lindsay Eason at 1-800-469-7830 or lindsay@greenstep.ca.

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