Green Space Networks
What is it?
A Green Space Network is a strategic system of interconnected natural spaces that consists of parks, natural areas, corridors, and other natural infrastructure. Ensuring the natural infrastructure system is connected is essential to ecologic, economic, and social health. These networks provide a solution to the impact and fragmentation caused by intensified land use.
Green Space Network Strategy is a land-use planning approach that establishes the locations, connections, and needs of the system elements, then articulates the policies and initiatives that are needed to keep the network intact. Green Space Network Strategies ensure connections between natural infrastructure assets at the neighbourhood, municipal, and regional scales.
How can municipalities use it?
Municipalities can create Green Space Network Strategies to align public policy across the municipality’s responsibilities. For example, a Green Space Network Strategy can inform - and is informed by - public policy from federal (e.g., Species at Risk Act), provincial (e.g., Wetland Policy), regional (e.g., regional plans) and municipal (e.g., stormwater management, biodiversity) levels. Municipalities can shift management practices, such as in open space management plans, to ensure maintenance and operations are not negatively impacting the natural infrastructure system.
Further, prioritizing maintenance of the Green Space Network can be emphasized in best management practices and design guidelines. Municipal partnerships with corporations, non-profit organizations, and community groups can increase public engagement and buy-in through education and recreation programs, volunteerism, and community events, as well as leverage funding for land acquisition or restoration that will enhance the Green Space Network.
What are the advantages?
The many advantages of Green Space Network Strategies include:
· Guides the priority areas for restoration, naturalization, and land acquisition, as well as for land-use zoning
· Provides habitat and wildlife connectivity
· Protects riparian areas and water bodies from erosion
· Ensures the natural infrastructure system can provide clean air and water
· Maintains natural hydrological systems through connected blue infrastructure, wetlands, rivers and streams
· Distributes open space through all neighborhoods to ensure access for community-based opportunities
· Presents an opportunity to work with corporations, non-profit organizations, and community groups
What should you watch out for?
No tool is a silver bullet. There are issues for municipalities to watch out for with Green Space Network Strategies, including:
Maps and inventories of natural infrastructure system assets must be available to properly plan for the Network and implement the Strategy
Alignment across many federal, provincial, regional, and municipal policies may be necessary, and can be difficult
Ongoing maintenance of open space amenities and facilities is needed to ensure public safety
Ongoing monitoring of network is necessary to ensure its continue function
How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?
Green Spaces Networks can contain critical natural infrastructure assets, and so maintaining a Green Space Network can enhance a municipality’s ability to protect and enhance the natural infrastructure system. Connectivity of the natural infrastructure system is essential to ensure benefits such as clean air and water, climate change resilience, and accessible recreation opportunities are realized.
Ottawa Greenspace Master Plan: Strategies for Ottawa’s Urban Greenspaces – Ottawa’s Green Space Master Plan provides strategies to ensure an adequate supply of greenspace, which include waterways, woodlands, manicured parks, and more, and to ensure accessibility to all residents.
A Typology of Urban Green Spaces, Ecosystem Services Provisioning Services and Demands – The report outlines the different types of urban green spaces, ecosystem services provisioning, and demand for green space as part of the Green Surge Project.
Green Bylaws Toolkit: for conserving sensitive ecosystems and green infrastructure – This document is an important resource for understanding how municipalities can safeguard the environment, from a regional to a site level. It clearly explains each tool, and provides case studies and examples of bylaws that are in use in British Columbia. This document explains the importance of mapping green spaces and their ecological connectivity.
Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, Surrey, BC – developed in 2014, this strategy aims to preserve biodiversity in the City of Surrey, recognizing biodiversity as a key foundation of a health, livable and sustainable community. One of the key principles in this document is to enhance habitat connectivity by establishing natural corridors and a green infrastructure network.
Breathe: Edmonton’s Green Network Strategy – The City of Edmonton's strategy to make sure that as the city grows over the next 30 years, each neighbourhood will be supported by a network of open space. The main goal of the Green Network Strategy is to plan and sustain a healthy city by encouraging connection and integration of open space at the site, neighbourhood, city and regional levels.
Halton Region Greenlands Securement Strategy – Developed by the Regional Municipality of Halton, this strategy is intended to bring to the table land securement partners to work cooperatively towards the goal of securing further lands for the greenlands system, a connected system of natural areas and open space.
Did we miss something?
If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!