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1. Use greenbelting to concentrate growth and preserve natural areas and eco-services

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Click here to view the greenbelting maps and accompanying policy layers.

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Purpose:

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To provide a physical representation of areas where growth should be encouraged and areas where human development should be restricted. Using greenbelting can help maintain natural areas for wildlife, public access, and the vital services that ecosystems perform while allowing for low-impact development in the right places.

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Description:

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The Our HRM Alliance strongly supports the concept of greenbelting to strengthen the "Open Space Network" already accepted by Council in Chapter Two of the RMPS. Linking habitat and ensuring biodiversity must be key objectives of the Open Space Network. The Alliance has developed four interlocking zones with accompanying policies, which are based on best practice examples from other municipalities (follow link above for maps and policy documents). The four zones are:

1. Protected areas and natural corridors

This zone links "protected areas" and "natural corridors" designated for wildlife and recreation. Here, the natural state takes precedence over  development.

2. Natural resources and agriculture

Greenbelting protects land for the continuation of forestry, farming, fishing and mining rather than allowing residential or commercial development.

3. Rural communities and Coastal Management Area

Protecting the rural and coastal lifestyles that define Nova Scotia, this zone uses HRM's Community Visioning to set boundaries for growth centres. HRM should also designate and enforce a Coastal Management Area.

4. Regional Centre and suburban growth centres

To reach sufficient densities, growth must be channelled to already-serviced areas where green spaces, urban agriculture and sustainable building practices are encourged.

Where else this is done:

On March 20, 2012 the Province of Québec committed $60 million for the implementation of greenbelts around Montréal and Québec City. Victoria, British Colombia and its adjacent Capital Regional District have implemented a Sea to Sea Green Blue Belt. Southern Ontario's 1.8 million acre greenbelt wraps around Greater Toronto and encompasses protected lands, agricultural and resource lands and hundreds of communities.

Next steps:

The details on the exact location of the greenbelt continue to be discussed. HRM staff will need to review and enhance the efforts of the Alliance. 

Why we chose this solution to meet our objectives:

  • Greenbelt planning serves a number of purposes. For HRM, it could:A greenbelt does not discourage development; it merely directs it to certain areas. Rather than a new commercial centre being developed in an area that will require new roads be built, a greenbelt would guide this development to areas within the already developed core of a community.
    • Reduce servicing costs to the Municipality and Province
    • Maintain agricultural lands
    • Encourage ecotourism
    • Preserve Nova Scotia's traditional communities and parkland
    • Encourage residents to be more physically active, thereby reducing health costs
    • Decrease the call for new schools by maintaining population numbers closer to existing sites
  • Developers correctly point to the fact that land on the outskirts of the community is presently cheaper; therefore a new homebuyer is more able to afford a home in the commutershed. HRM and the Province must provide initiatives and a policy framework to ensure that land in already built-up areas is competitively priced (see Solution Five).

How other cities implement this:

  • England's National Planning Policy Framework is still in the formation stages, but England has had policy limiting development in the countryside for over 50 years. Greenbelts achieve five objectives for this nation:

    • Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
    • Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
    • Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
    • Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
    • Assist in urban regeneration, encouraging the reuse of derelict and other urban land

Correspondence to existing RMPS:

Congruent with Section 2.1, "Open Space Network", in the RMPS under Chapter 2. Corresponds to the Cultural Functional Plan, Section 2.2 (Cultural Assets): "These assets allow people to be engaged in healthy lifestyles and enjoy a profound connection to their natural environment and their community".[6]

 

The Our HRM Alliance’s first “recommended solution” is to “use greenbelting”. On Monday, March 19 at 10:30 am in Meeting Room One of the St. Margaret’s Centre (12 Westwood Blvd., Upper Tantallon), the Alliance released its Greenbelting Solution.
 
Greenbelting can direct growth, protect watersheds, ensure nearby recreational opportunities and preserve the rural way of life.  Greenbelting only works when the community it serves first has input into its development and then embraces it. As in other cities, the Alliance wants HRM residents to own the Greenbelting Solution – for this to happen, the Alliance has put the map and policy out to the public for discussion.
 
The Greenbelting Solution was put forward in the same location that HRM is holding its first public consultation for the five-year review of the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (RP+5).
 
 

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