1. Use greenbelting to concentrate growth and preserve natural areas and eco-services
Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012
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.
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.
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
- In Ontario, the Places to Grow Act and Greenbelt Act form the policy framework required for both directing growth and protecting the countryside.
- A report from the City of Calgary looks at the cost of growth in new greenfield areas versus in the core. Servicing costs are less in already built-up areas.
Victoria Transit Policy Institute prepared a paper on public infrastructure and service cost which is in effect a study of land-use patterns. Density is easier to service with transit. This means that urban cores are easier to service than a suburban form.
Examples of greenbelts can be found across the globe: Portland, Oregon (urban growth boundary); Melbourne, Australia; Frankfurt, Germany; São Paulo, Brazil; San Francisco Bay Area, California; and The Netherlands
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".
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.
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