GIO is dedicated to assisting the Ontario provincial government by supporting and promoting policy solutions that encourage green infrastructure as part of healthy, prosperous, and sustainable communities. We recently submitted comments and recommendations on three major draft legislations and provincial plans:
1. GIO provided recommendations for the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. GIO strongly recommended that the Province incorporate policies, programs, and financial mechanisms that will help support green infrastructure implementation. GIO recommended 8 key actions that would support green infrastructure in the final Environment Plan:
- Provincial support for municipal stormwater management fee programs
- Funding for incentive programs that support Low Impact Development and green infrastructure for municipal infrastructure and redevelopment projects
- Finalize and implement the Low Impact Development Stormwater Management guidance manual and runoff volume control standard
- Implement a “consider green infrastructure first” policy – this would encourage assessing the effectiveness of cost-effective green options before defaulting to traditional infrastructure solutions
- Ensure all levels of government allocate a minimum of 15% of infrastructure funds to green infrastructure investment for climate change resilience in order to drive investment towards green infrastructure assets on their own or as complements to grey infrastructure
- Ensure support of green infrastructure projects through relevant permitting and approvals
- Require financial planning to support full cost recovery of infrastructure that considers the life-cycle cost and plans for the long-term
- Encourage businesses and municipalities to employ a comprehensive economic and environmental footprint analysis to compare green and grey infrastructure and the co-benefits of green infrastructure in capital projects
2. GIO responded to the development of the Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan strongly recommending that the Action Plan protect policies that support implementation of green infrastructure practices. The following recommendations were made:
- That the Action Plan reference the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) definition and direction relating to green infrastructure. This will help ensure there is clarity regarding green infrastructure practices and policy directions for implementation. The PPS includes directions on promoting green infrastructure to complement traditional grey infrastructure, maximizing the use of vegetation and pervious surfaces in stormwater management, and directions for planning authorities to protect, improve or restore the quality and quantity of water including those related to green infrastructure. These are important to note as green infrastructure is cost-effective and can be a crucial tool in increasing community resilience to climate change. The benefits can also extend beyond those financial and climate resiliency-based and provide social, environmental, and health benefits to the community as well.
- That the Action Plan should integrate green infrastructure planning into the housing development process. By placing green infrastructure at the forefront of development, natural spaces, agriculture land, and development can be managed as a connected system to make communities more desirable to resident and to improve the resilience and function of the green infrastructure system.
3. GIO also submitted a response to Bill 66 – schedule 10 outlining the significant negative impacts it would have on the province’s green infrastructure system. Schedule 10 would have weakened vital regional-scale protections for natural features included in The Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, the Growth Plan, and the Provincial Policy Statement. These plans were developed thorough consultation and ensure effective protection of natural features that span municipal borders. The existing plans encourage the consideration of green infrastructure in stormwater management and climate resiliency planning which can provide financial savings and other benefits worthy of continued inclusion. With farmland, wetlands, woodlands, valley lands, natural heritage features, key hydrologic features, and freshwater as risk with Schedule 10, GIO strongly recommended that Schedule 10 be removed from Bill 66.
On January 23rd, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that when the legislature returns in February they will not proceed with section 10 of the bill.
To read the submissions in more detail, they can be found on our Provincial Government Submissions Page.