How can Lethbridge become a place where green infrastructure abounds in every neighbourhood? Environment Lethbridge is working with Green Communities Canada, a national nonprofit organization, to help make that happen.
Living Cities Canada, an initiative coordinated by Green Communities Canada, is bolstering local support and capacity for green infrastructure in cities across the country, including here in Lethbridge. Working with Environment Lethbridge, they are charting a unique pathway for Lethbridge to become a “Living City”—places with equitable, abundant, and thriving green infrastructure.
Pathways are also being developed in collaboration with local organizations in London, Ontario; Hamilton, Ontario; Dieppe, New Brunswick; and Saint John, New Brunswick.
“Green infrastructure is a way to make urban areas work more like natural systems,” explained Living Cities Program Manager, Christine Mettler. “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,” Mettler added. “It can solve a lot of problems at the same time, and can be more cost-effective than grey infrastructure.”
Cities around the world are looking at ways to preserve existing green infrastructure (GI) and incorporate new GI into the landscape. Many Canadian cities lag behind American, European, and Asian cities in doing this. Living Cities Canada is working to change this.
The Living Cities project team has just released their Pathways to Living Cities Framework, which documents how cities around the world are successfully advancing green infrastructure. The team is working with Environment Lethbridge to apply those learnings in Lethbridge and other cities across the country.
Thanks to significant financial support from the Definity Insurance Foundation, with funding from Definity Insurance Company, Green Communities Canada will be scaling up this work in 2023 and beyond. That means more funding for local organizations like Environment Lethbridge to engage the public in impactful green infrastructure action projects.
“We are so excited to be involved in this project,” said Kathleen Sheppard, Executive Director with Environment Lethbridge. “Water is critically important to everyone who lives in Lethbridge, and investing in green infrastructure is a key pathway to water conservation.”
“Living Cities Canada is allowing us to build upon this work by identifying ways Lethbridge can do more to support green infrastructure,” Sheppard added. “We are looking forward to deepening this work by building awareness and involving community members in on-the-ground green infrastructure projects.”
To learn more about the Living Cities project and how you can be involved, visit: www.livingcities.ca.