Why Green Development Standards are beneficial

 In Opinion

Having Green Development Standards can help municipalities secure healthy, well-designed communities that have integrated greenspace and wildlife habitat, provide attractive pedestrian and cycle routes, and positively enhance transit networks. They can offer a variety of housing types, encourage various modes of transportation, and improve employment options.

Green Development Standards, commonly referred to as GDS, are community planning and building design measures created by municipal governments to encourage economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable development. The standards can be voluntary, mandated, or a combination of both. There is no set format or wording for GDS – each municipality can create them as they wish to best suit their specific situation and objectives.

Having GDS can alleviate pressures from population growth and urbanization by encouraging or mandating more efficient use ofthe municipality’s infrastructure and resources. As we have seen locally, municipalities are facing new servicing and economic challenges due to rapid growth requirements and the impacts of climate change.

New developments within a municipality can either exacerbate these challenges by adhering to the status quo, or if well executed in line with GDS, can improve the quality of life for the community as a whole. Among other benefits, GDS can result in more efficient use of a community’s water and sewage systems, improve the health and wellness of residents, provide appealing active transportation options, enhance the calibre of local building stock, lower ongoing energy and maintenance costs for residents, increase a community’s resiliency to severe weather events, and assist a municipality in achieving its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

At this time, the great thing about GDS is that there is no need to invent, or reinvent, the wheel. Many municipalities in Ontario have already adopted GDS within their Official Plans and/or other planning documents and are often willing to assist others. The Clean Air Partnership, through funding by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, collaborated with eight Ontario municipalities to develop a toolkit to help more municipalities develop and implement Green Development Standards. Our neighbouring counties of Grey, Dufferin and Wellington are currently working on developing aligned GDS for their region.

The Buildings and Development group of Clearview Sustainability Network has been collaborating with climate/sustainability teams in Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Town of The Blue Mountains to request that our respective municipal governments consider developing aligned regional GDS for our Southern Georgian Bay area.

If you would like to voice your support for this recommendation, please email clearviewsustainabilitynetwork@ gmail.com, reach out to members of Clearview Township council, or contact one of the members of the newly-formed Clearview Climate Action Advisory Committee.

Jim Campbell, B.Tech (Architecture), M.Arch, is a principal of Rockside Campbell, a design firm specializing in high-performance custom homes, a member of Passive House Canada, and lead of Clearview Sustainability Network’s Buildings and Development group.

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