What is a Living City?

Living Cities are communities where green infrastructure—natural vegetative systems and green technologies that deliver community services—is equitable, abundant, and thriving.

Working in partnership with Green Communities Canada, Environment Lethbridge participated as a pilot city in the Living Cities Canada program to focus on expanding green infrastructure in urban settings throughout Canada.

Green infrastructure uses “nature and/or natural processes to deliver infrastructural and other services including parks and green spaces, urban forests (e.g., street trees, private trees, woodlots), stormwater management assets (e.g., permeable pavement, bioswales, rain gardens, ponds), natural heritage systems, community gardens, and green roofs and walls.”

Living Cities Framework

Among the tools developed as part of the Living Cities Canada project, Green Communities Canada has released a Living Cities Framework, a compilation of case studes and best practices for green infrastructure in Canada. In addition, a Living City Pathway specific to Lethbridge will be released later this year.

Green infrastructure makes urban areas work more like natural systems. It includes both naturally-occurring ecosystems, like woodlands and wetlands, and engineered systems that use nature or natural processes, like green roofs, rain gardens, or permeable pavements.

When we develop cities, we replace natural vegetation and soils with hardened surfaces. This results in the loss of the functions the land used to provide—like absorbing stormwater, purifying water, and providing cool refuge on hot summer days. It makes our cities more susceptible to climate change and environmental hazards, like flooding or extreme heat. Protecting and restoring green infrastructure also makes our cities more vibrant, healthy, and liveable for all. It can solve a lot of problems at the same time, and can be more cost-effective than grey infrastructure.

The Living Roof at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre is one of Lethbridge’s best examples of green infrastructure. Photo courtesy Helen Schuler Nature Centre.

Environment Lethbridge Projects