Green Infrastructure Report

Evolving Cities With Green Roof Infrastructure

Green infrastructure – which involves using built and natural systems to filter, soak up and slow down storm-water – is a new exciting area of focus for numerous cities all over the world.

Green infrastructure may be used for managing wet weather impacts in such a way that it strengthens resilience and enhances water quality to climate change impacts. Many Canadian cities have started to experiment with green infrastructure and several pilot programs have started to collect data.

Now we have the ability to learn from various jurisdiction when the next green infrastructure steps are being considered.

Different cities are now experimenting with a number of different innovative policies, ranging from green street policies to green roof targets to financing mechanisms that are designed for incentivizing green infrastructure uptake, to cover targets for urban tree canopy forests. These policy conversations occur within the context of local actors and current plans. Although there is a complex interplay between different organizations and jurisdictions, there still is clearly room for a number of cities to aggressively move forward on green infrastructure implemented at the city-wide level.

The following is a brief list of the best 6 near-term actions that can be undertaken by cities for advancing green infrastructure:

  1. Moving past green infrastructure experimentation over to widespread implementation, and making use of timelines and targets for tracking robust implementation.
  2. Developing a green roofs bylaw, which follows the example that other cities have set.
  3. Green streets being implemented at scale, with a “green standard” being used for street design with an adequate amount of funding for implementation to be widespread.
  4. Developing and preserving urban forest through the use of hard targets to enhance urban forest canopy cover and reduce effective impervious areas.
  5. Getting low-impact development requirements implemented for re-development and new developments. Part of that would involve the City using runoff volume control targets for managing 25 millimetres of water at least on site.
  6. Using a public awareness and engagement campaign for promoting on-site green infrastructure homeowner measures.

What is Green Infrastructure?

What green infrastructure involves is using the built and natural systems for slowing down, filtering, and soaking up storm-water. Over the past decade, this concept has emerged from relative obscurity. It has been adopted worldwide increasingly as a way to work with natural systems for creating a built environment that will be resilient to a changing climate’s anticipated effects.

These types of features or infrastructure that are considered to be green infrastructure may vary widely, however, the following is a short list of what can be considered to be typical green infrastructure features:

  • Riparian zones, waterways, ravines, and wetlands
  • Agricultural lands and meadows
  • Urban agriculture
  • Landscaped areas, turf, gardens, and parks
  • Green walls and green roofs
  • Downspout extensions
  • Rain barrels
  • Storm water ponds, engineered wetlands, and bio-swales
  • Woodlots and urban forests

The vegetation, as shown below, is comprised of a diverse range of different plant species that are available locally as well as online in Canada.