Waterproofing Cities for Resiliency

housing

The last month brought a lot of rain to the city of Toronto which has led to the Toronto islands being half submerged and a temporary (and lax) travel ban to be put into effect. The rest of the city has fared slightly better. The city has slowly been improving its water management over the years by implementing green roofs and providing more green space along ravines to absorb water. That’s not enough to deal with the increased rainfall from climate change. Over at the CBC they have an article looking at effective ways that Toronto is already using and what more can be done.

Of course, the techniques used in Toronto can be applied to many other cities.

The water that makes it past collection systems or soaks through green spaces ends up in Toronto’s sewer system.

In cases of a heavy downpour, that can send a mix of storm and sanitary water into Lake Ontario, due to the city’s combined sewer system.

While the city has dedicated reserves for storm water, it has no choice but to pump the mixed sewage and storm water into the lake during extreme rainfall.

Read more.

First Nations Reserves Across Canada to get Toronto Library Cards

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A fantastic way to share stories and knowledge is through books and public library systems. Unfortunately too many indigenous reserves and communities in Canada don’t have access to a library, which is having a negative impact on knowledge sharing. The Toronto Public Library system will be extending their library services to indigenous communities as part of their Truth and Reconciliation process.

Library services are sparse on Ontario reserves. Of the province’s 207 reserves, only 46 have a library. The average annual budget for each is only $15,000.

Doucette explains that libraries are all about sharing, and this is an easy way for Toronto to do its part. “I think whenever possible we should step up to the plate,” she said.

Read more.

Toronto’s Green Roofs Keep Growing


Back in 2006 we first looked at how green roofs were becoming a development issue in Toronto, in 2009 Toronto implemented that green roof bylaw. Then in 2014 we took a look at how North America’s green roof industry is growing.

This year, Toronto has become the hub for green roofs! Torontist took a look into what made this happen and why green roofs are perfect for cities.

There are approximately 500 green roofs, big and small, in Toronto. This is thanks to a 2010 bylaw [PDF] requiring all new developers to cover between 20 and 60 per cent of their buildings with vegetation. It’s the first (and, for now, only) regulation of its kind in North America, making Toronto uniquely positioned for environmental design.

The bylaw is why the 41-story RBC WaterPark Place [PDF] at Bay Street and Queens Quay has three green roofs that together could fill a NFL football field.

Developers can opt out of installing anything remotely grassy for a fee. But Jane Welsh, City Hall’s project manager for environmental planning, told Torontoist only five per cent of buildings choose to go sans-green roof.

Welsh also says municipally-owned buildings install a green roof anytime there’s a repair or replacement to the top of the building, when feasible.

Read more.
Thanks Delaney!

Supporting Bicycles is a Good Idea for Cities

Torontoist is a blog focused on, you guessed it, Toronto and they recently ran a series of posts about bike lanes. It’s not all about Toronto as they pull data from New York and tout Strasbourg as an inspiration that Toronto ought to follow.

The success of cycling infrastructure in Strasbourg is a result of partnerships between the city and other transportation agencies. Parcus, the city’s arms-length parking authority, manages parking lots throughout Strasbourg and incorporates bike parking as part of its facilities. Parcus provides free, supervised bike parking at five different parking lots across the city. Parking attendants are even equipped with repair kits and bike pumps.

In another recent post, Torontoist provides a look at three myths about bike lanes that people (for some reason) believe. The first myth is that bike lanes block people from commuting from the suburbs. The response to the myth is pretty great:

The myth here is that cycling infrastructure will cause congestion to the point of excessive traffic delays. Bike lanes don’t always add to traffic congestion, and really need to be analyzed on a case by case basis. Except for rush hour, Bloor Street is already occupied by parking spaces on either side of the road, and, in turn, narrows a four-lane street down to two lanes. Bike lanes will remove parking spaces, sure, but in turn will leave the two-lane situation in the same condition it was prior to the installation of the bike lanes. If bike lanes do in fact cause minor inconveniences, these inconveniences are nothing in comparison to on-street parking used practically around the clock. Here’s an 808 page book on why that’s bad public policy.

Lastly, the site outlined why bicycle infrastructure is part of a larger movement to make streets good for all commuters. Having a multimodal approach to urban transportation is always a good form of planning rather than a monolithic approach focused on one mode of getting around.

The study of the improvements made to Richmond and Adelaide streets, which included the addition of a cycle track separated from vehicle traffic by flexi-posts and planter boxes, concluded that the upgrades resulted in an increased number of cyclists using the roadways and reduced travel times for drivers. During off-peak hours, a motorist’s trip was 30 per cent faster after the cycle track was installed and 12 per cent faster during peak hours.

In the study, both cyclists and drivers reported that they felt safer using the street once it had been upgraded. The report did not, however, mention how incorrect usage of the roadway, such as drivers and delivery trucks parking in the bike lane, can render it less safe since cyclists usually have to merge with traffic.

A Plan for a Zero Waste Toronto

The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) has released a new report on how to get Toronto to be a zero waste city. The report covers a lot of material from food waste to hazardous waste, in total there are five sections with suggestions on how to improve Toronto’s waste management. Even if you’re not in Toronto you will be able to find ideas and suggestions for your own city’s waste issues.

Across the world, people, businesses and cities are adopting a vision of zero waste. A zero waste path for Toronto will protect the environment, benefit the community and support good green jobs and a strong local economy.

This report provides innovative ideas and concrete examples that can help as our city discusses what kind of future we want and what path we will choose to take on waste.

Read more.