Green Infrastructure Blog


INSPIRING INITIATIVES: GIO in the news, California’s newest watershed legislation, and Grey to Green 2019

GIO in the News: Green Infrastructure Ontario’s Michelle Sawka collaborated with Municipal Natural Assets Initiative’s Roy Brooke in a recent article calling for defined values for green infrastructure when making development decisions. This means recognizing green infrastructure as a definitive asset, and giving it a place in Canada’s accounting framework. Click here for to check […]

Recent Research: Private property incentives and trees in stormwater modelling

Private Property Incentive Programs: The Water Research Foundation has published new research to help identify ways to incentivize the installation of green infrastructure on private property. Six incentive programs were recommended to help promote private uptake of green infrastructure: Stormwater fee discounts Rebates and cost-share programs Grant programs for 100% cost coverage Development and redevelopment […]

Southern Ontario’s Disappearing Forest

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dr. Dianne Saxe, recently released her four-volume 2018 Environmental Protection Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This report synthesizes the biggest environmental issues facing the province in the most recent year, the steps being taken to address them, and recommendations for new approaches or enhancements to escalate the […]

Fostering Supply and Demand for Green Infrastructure

A recent article delves into why green infrastructure has yet to spread its roots in our communities on a large scale. There is immense potential for communities to benefit from green infrastructure by retrofitting developed areas absent of existing stormwater controls. Retrofitting laneways, rooftops, and property margins can be cost-effective and provide a suite of […]

Urban Forests and Public Health – Funding Opportunities

The benefits of urban forests on human health are well researched – nature has the capacity to improve mental and physical health. As such, recovery and enhancement of urban forests is beneficial to both public health and forestry professionals. A recent article from the Conservation Finance Network reports that there is immense potential to leverage […]

5 Barriers and 5 Opportunities for Municipal Natural Asset Management

With climate change and community resilience at the height of concerns regarding our communities’ futures, it is becoming increasingly apparent that natural infrastructure needs to be an integral part of municipal asset management. Ecological assets are being degraded and lost at a rapid rate, and Municipal Natural Asset Management (MNAM) is a long-term solution that […]

2018 Ontario Climate Symposium

The Ontario Climate Consortium is hosting the 6th Ontario Climate Symposium at Canada’s biggest art and design university, OCADU. This year the Symposium will take place on October 11th and 12th, and will explore how innovative, interdisciplinary visions can facilitate a cultural shift toward low-carbon communities, sustainable adaptation and the adoption of green infrastructure. Aimed […]

Recent Research: Best Practices and Resources on Climate Resilient Natural Infrastructure

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment produced a report to address the current value of natural infrastructure, and its role in climate resiliency. The paper not only cites GIO resources throughout, it also outlines lessons learned, best practices, and recommendations for overcoming barriers in solving climate issues such as coastal flooding, riverine flooding, […]

Inspiring Initiatives: Community collaboration, tools to streamline green roof and wall integration, and green infrastructure for the bees

Benefits-Driven Designing – Creating Better Green Infrastructure What happens when a town comes together to design green infrastructure that provides flood relief, access to local food for the community, and ample educational and training experiences for residents? Just ask Peoria, Illinois. The town had to find a better way to protect their community from the […]

Combatting Canada’s Rising Flood Costs

An overarching and complex barrier in the adoption of natural infrastructure is the limited capacity of institutions to develop and finance natural infrastructure options. With climate resiliency at the forefront of community planning, it is evident that without proper infrastructure – natural or otherwise –  climate-change induced damages such as flooding and excess water flows […]

GIO is Hiring an Executive Director

The Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) is searching for a proven leader and passionate candidate to help make green infrastructure the new normal in Ontario.  Adoption of green infrastructure practices is on the rise in all communities and sectors but there is still much work to be done! The Executive Director will be responsible for […]

Recent Research and Inspiring Initiatives

Green infrastructure and walkability for healthy communities Evidence for what makes healthy communities is mounting. At the heart of healthy neighbourhoods are two commonalities: walkability and green infrastructure. This article on Place Makers website provides a great overview and cites plenty of primary literature on healthy place making. Eco-assets video series The partnership for water […]

Green Infrastructure in Provincial Watershed Planning Guidance

This past April the Ministries of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) released ‘Watershed Planning in Ontario: Guidance for Land Use Planning Authorities’ on the Environmental Registry. The provincial land use policies state that green infrastructure should be considered when planning more resilient complete communities. Watershed planning is one effective […]

Five Lessons from GIO’s Presentation at an Asset Managers Conference

At the recent Canadian Network of Asset Managers Conference in Windsor, Ontario, GIO had the pleasure of presenting, in partnership with York Region, on Green Infrastructure in Municipal Asset Management Planning. Over the course of the conference we met and interacted with asset managers from across the continent, discussing emerging trends in asset management and […]

Three things we learnt at Grey to Green 2018

  1.     Community-driven green infrastructure projects can help inspire and ignite neighbourhood revitalization. Bronzville, a neighbourhood in south Chicago that has a rich cultural history but has seen decades of disrepair, is seeing a renaissance that includes green infrastructure and other sustainability initiatives. A roof-top community garden is just one of several projects that the […]

Grey to Green 2018

The 6th Annual Grey to Green Conference is taking place May 15-16, 2018 at the Chestnut Conference Centre in Toronto. Grey to Green focuses on green infrastructure design, research and policy and connects professionals working to integrate natural elements into the built environment. Grey to Green features a wide variety of innovative, technical content on […]

Ontario’s Long Term Infrastructure Plan

The Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure has released a Long Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) for Ontario. The LTIP focuses largely on provincially-owned grey infrastructure including a section on the state of provincially owned assets by each responsible ministry and the anticipated budget needs over the next 10 years. The plan also includes a couple references to […]

Green infrastructure recognized as municipal assets in new provincial asset management planning regulation

Imagine our parklands, gardens, natural heritage features, green roofs and other green infrastructure were appreciated and managed for the services they provide and treated as the community assets that they are. GIO has been advocating for this for quite some time now, by requesting that municipalities and communities include green infrastructure in their asset management […]

Inspiring Initiatives: Five parks that were born from old transportation infrastructure

Paris’ Promenade Plantée: This 3 mile walkway that became a park in 1993 is so beautiful it’s hard to believe it used to be an abandoned viaduct.  Seoul’s Skygarden: The capital of South Korea recently converted a 1970s elevated highway into a park with over 24,000 plants. New York’s Highline: On of the most famous […]

Recent Research: Green infrastructure and water

 Last week was world water week. In its honour we are highlighting recent research that relates to green infrastructure and water, including a report on the real estate sector’s role in managing water, a case study on barriers to green infrastructure, a study on the flood-related ecosystem services of green spaces, and a local series […]

Inspiring Initiatives : New green infrastructure in Delhi, Key take-aways from a recent green infrastructure conference and England’s new “Northern Forest”

New green infrastructure in Delhi Inspired by similar projects in Mexico, Delhi Metro has installed vertical gardens along the pillars in some of the busiest intersections in the city. This new green infrastructure will do more than just beautify the grey infrastructure. It will also help to reduce local air pollution, and provide a calming […]

Spotlight on research: green infrastructure in leading cities, provisioning services of NYC’s urban forest, mapping green infrastructure and evaluating the benefits of green infrastructure

A new study examining the use of green infrastructure in 5 communities considered leaders in the field – Singapore, Berlin, Philadelphia, Melbourne and Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city found that all of these geographies face similar challenges regarding the implementation of green infrastructure. In particular, space and cost restraints and barriers for inter-sectional cooperation and stakeholder collaboration […]

2018 Green infrastructure policy update

2017 was a big year for green infrastructure in policy. We were pleased to see the inclusion of green infrastructure in a number of policies from several provincial ministries. Below, we summarize some of the major policies relating to green infrastructure that were released in 2017, and provide an update on policy we would like […]

Green Infrastructure in Ontario’s Proposed Climate Change Initiatives

The Government of Ontario has recently posted several public notices on the Environmental Registry of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Two postings speak specifically to the role that green infrastructure might play in mitigation and adaptation: 1) Developing a Voluntary Carbon Offsets Program for Ontario; and 2) […]

Urban Forest Asset Management

This fall, GIO hosted 3 urban forestry workshops and created a toolkit on the topic of urban forest policy and municipal asset management. The goal of this work is to help urban forest managers leverage new policy from the provincial government that will require municipalities to develop asset management plans. Integrating urban forests into asset […]

Inspiring initiatives: looking back on 10 years of green infrastructure in Langley, BC; a subwatershed plan for Georgina, Fox and Snake Island; a legal toolkit for local food policy; and private investment in a greener Detroit

A decade of green infrastructure in Langley, BC In 2007 the Township of Langley held an event showcasing green infrastructure innovation. Since then, Langley has shown a commitment to green infrastructure by ensuring harmony and integration throughout the Township. Rain gardens are now standard practice and the commitment to designing with nature is evident – […]

Spotlight on research: Links between trees and public health, green roofs as habitat and the EPA’s Local Food Local Places Toolkit

New report links trees and public health The new report by the Nature Conservancy entitled Funding Trees for Health- An Analysis of Finance and Policy Actions to Enable Tree Planting for Public Health summarizes the most recent research findings that link trees to public health. The report targets the following barriers preventing cities from fully […]

Ontario’s New Wetland Conservation Strategy

Background Wetlands are vital green infrastructure, providing countless ecosystem services. A wetland’s ability to provide these services is dependent on their ecological functions, which are affected by the quality of water entering from the surrounding environment. For this reason, wetlands benefit from the implementation of other types green infrastructure (e.g. low impact development) on a […]

Green Infrastructure in Ontario’s Official Plans – An Update

Two years ago, GIO completed a review of the Official Plans of Ontario municipalities. We found that 18 of 93 (19%) plans examined had included the term ‘green infrastructure’.  This summer, we reviewed the same plans to see if there have been any significant changes. Why does it matter if green infrastructure is mentioned in […]

An Update on Our Urban Forest Work

Urban forest managers in Ontario are facing complicated and increasingly detrimental threats to critical municipal assets, our urban trees. The value and management of urban forests varies greatly across jurisdictions in Ontario, which is due in part to a lack of coordinated effort and support at the provincial level.  As a result, many urban forest […]

A Green Infrastructure Guide for Small Towns, Communities and Rural Settlements

While green infrastructure has great potential to improve communities in all geographic contexts, the majority of existing literature and support for green infrastructure is biased toward large cities and highly urbanized communities. GIO and the Greenbelt Foundation have teamed up to develop a new guide for towns, small cities and rural communities that are interested […]

Spotlight on Research: Resilient Parks, Green Infrastructure on Private Property, Forests as Pollution Control and A Call for Research

How can we increase green infrastructure projects on private lands in an equitable way? What is the effect of forests on boundary layer ozone? Recent green infrastructure research has examined these questions. Resilient Parks, Resilient City: The role of green infrastructure and parks in creating more climate-adaptive cities GIO’s friends at Park People have created […]

Inspiring Initiatives: A Supermarket Green Roof, 10 Green Cities, A Forest City in China and Nature for Health

From a grocery store growing produce on their roof in Canada, to the new “Forest City” in China, there are plenty of inspiring new green infrastructure initiatives to share. Largest Organic Supermarket Green Roof Montreal is now home to the largest organic supermarket green roof in the country. The Saint-Laurent IGA has been transformed into […]

Inspiring Initiatives: Green Infrastructure Mapping, London’s Draft Agricultural Plan and Green Infrastructure in Toronto’s Waterfront Revitalization

Eco-Urban Assessment: The City of Bridgeport, Connecticut has put together a sleek spatial assessment tool to implement green infrastructure projects where they will provide the most benefit. The map identifies target areas based on priority to improve air quality, low-income communities and stormwater management risk.  The City is able to use this tool to determine […]

Spotlight on Research: Measuring Urban Tranquillity, Urban Street Stormwater Guide and Nature-based Solutions for Source Water Protection

Greening the city: A measurement for a mindful environment Scientists at the University of Bradford have developed a tool to predict how relaxing urban environments are. The Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool (TRAPT) shows great promise as a tool for urban planning and encouraging the use of green infrastructure for mental well-being. Screening of buildings and […]

Stormwater Management in Ontario – Support for Green Infrastructure

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is currently developing a Low Impact Development (LID) Stormwater Management Guidance Manual. The manual will aim to clarify the ministry’s expectations with regard to LID stormwater management and related runoff volume and water quality control expectations. As a first step in the manual’s development, two research reports […]

Green Infrastructure in New Provincial Asset Management Planning Regulation

Green infrastructure systems are infrastructure assets, like roads and sewers, and should be managed for the value they provide and the risks associated with their potential loss. To do so, green infrastructure assets should be integrated into a municipality’s overall capital asset management framework. Currently, municipalities are required to develop asset management plans to manage […]

Inspiring Initiatives: Guidebook for Naturally Resilient Communities, Green Infrastructure on Agricultural Land, and a Hospital’s Green Roof

Green Infrastructure Solutions to Mitigate the Effects of Extreme Weather Naturally Resilient Communities is a guidebook and interactive tool featuring communities around the US that rely on green infrastructure solutions to protect themselves against climate change related extreme weather events. The guidebook includes over 30 case studies from communities of various sizes that are facing issues […]

Spotlight on Research: Building the Business Case and How Mega-Mansion’s Impact the Urban Forest

How Real Estate Developers make the Business Case for Green Infrastructure Investment The Urban Land Institute recently released a report on “Harvesting the Value of Water”. The report analyzes the public stormwater policy landscape and its connection to real estate development projects. It discusses how many real estate developers are responding to new regulations by […]

Green Infrastructure in the 2017 Federal Budget

The Federal Government’s 2017 Budget, released on March 22, includes support for living green infrastructure practices. However, a strong commitment from the province of Ontario and clear communications on behalf of the Federal government are needed to translate support into implementation. The budget included significant funding for the following infrastructure areas: Transit Green Infrastructure Social […]

Complete Communities Include Green Infrastructure

The Ontario government has confirmed that its vision for complete communities includes green infrastructure. The province recently released four updated land use plans that aim to balance environmental protection and the need to build complete, vibrant communities as the Greater Golden Horseshoe grows. The new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017) includes support […]

7 Key Takeaways on Urban Forest Assets and Public Sector Accounting Standards

Many municipalities struggle to allocate adequate resources to maintain their urban forests. A number of factors contribute to this issue, but one significant challenge is how they value the urban forest. It may be cliché, but it often seems that, “what gets measured, gets managed.” Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Accounting Handbook is a barrier to […]

The Ontario Climate Symposium: Facilitating Knowledge Exchange since 2013

Guest post by Simran Chattha, Coordinator Communications and Engagement, Ontario Climate Consortium When we hosted our first ever climate change symposium in May 2013, we wanted to bring together researchers and practitioners from the public sector, academia, and private sector on a global issue that has implications for all of us here in Ontario. This […]

Inspiring Initiatives: The Living City Report Card, Nutrient Trading, Green Infrastructure Master Plan

The Living City Report Card Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) just released The Living City Report Card for 2016. In collaboration with organizations across the Greater Toronto Area, the report card is a progress report on environmental sustainability in the Toronto Region. The report evaluates six key areas for sustainability: Carbon, Air Quality, Waste, […]

2018 Update: Keep your finger on the pulse of the Green Infrastructure industry at the Grey to Green Conference

Guest Post by Kara Orr, Marketing Coordinator, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities The green infrastructure industry in Ontario has reached an opportune moment, and one that needs to be seized. Both the Federal and Provincial governments are investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects over the next several years. Green infrastructure can and should be […]

Complete Streets Include Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure (including low impact development) is a cost effective way to create more resilient, liveable, and walkable cities. Inclusion of green infrastructure in rights of way is a strategy that can help cities in Ontario control rain water onsite, and restore pre-development water balance. Implementing green infrastructure on streets and other public and private […]

Spotlight on Research: Green Infrastructure market, urban forest management guide, and more

Large Scale Adoption of Green Infrastructure Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc. has released a report Assessing the Market Size for Large-Scale Adoption Of Green Infrastructure in the Great Lakes Basin. The report, funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, looks at private sector adoption of green infrastructure in the United States within the great lakes […]

Calling All Urban Forest Stakeholders – What tools do you need?

In our 2015 report Ontario’s Urban Forests: Call to Action, the development of a toolkit for those working to improve urban forest management across the province was identified as a priority action. GIO is now seeking input from urban forest stakeholders to help define the scope of the toolkit by asking them to fill out a short, online […]

Changes to Municipal Legislation support Green Infrastructure

In November 2016, the Ontario government tabled Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act. This bill, if passed, will introduce a series of reforms to the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act, which outline the legislative, administrative, and financial responsibilities of Ontarian municipalities. Among many changes introduced in the legislation, three in particular […]

Green Infrastructure Asset Management Workshop Highlights

In November, GIO and Clean Air Partnership hosted a Green Infrastructure Asset Management Workshop in Toronto, bringing together a variety of professionals from across southern Ontario to address the topic. The goals of the workshop were to share information featuring four guest speakers and to provide input that will help GIO build a roadmap to […]

Provincial Government Submission: Offsets Credits

In November 2016 the provincial government invited comments on the Ontario Cap and Trade Program: Offsets Credits Regulatory Proposal. GIO submitted comments expressing support for the Province’s proposed approach of legislating an offset market as potentially offering new opportunities for ecosystem-based carbon sequestration related activities. Three main comments were included and are summarized briefly below. […]

Inspiring Initiatives: Great Lakes Grant, Missisauga’s Giant New Urban Farm, and more

The Sustain Our Great Lakes program is soliciting proposals to improve habitat and water quality in the Great Lakes basin. The program will award grants for: 1) stream habitat improvements; 2) coastal wetland habitat improvements; and 3) green storm water infrastructure in Great Lakes shoreline cities. Up to $7.8 million is expected to be available […]

Spotlight on Research: Trees and Healthy Air, Willingness to pay for GI, and more!

This fall, the Nature Conservancy released the report Planting Healthy Air: A global analysis of the role of urban trees in addressing particulate matter pollution and extreme heat. The report looks at the impacts on human health of air pollution and heat and the role of trees in reducing both of these. Included is a […]

NEWS RELEASE: Urban Forests Face Perilous Future Without Intervention

­­­­STATE OF THE URBAN FOREST IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA REPORT RELEASED Just as highways, storm sewers or transit lines are vital components of infrastructure, so is the Urban Forest of the Greater Toronto Area – and it should be regarded as such by policy makers at every level. That finding is one of many […]

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