Global warming is bringing more intense heat waves to our urban environments which means cities will need to adapt to the new temperatures. Indeed, regular readers will recognize a lot of ways cities can mitigate extreme heat from painting roads white to regulating green roofs. Over at Arch Daily they have compiled a neat list of good ways cities are exploring to stay cool.
Modern cities are full of biodiversity, you just need to know where to look .Urban ecology is a relatively new field of study that examines how isolated urban green infrastructure relates to one another to form an ecological understanding of our cities. This infrastructure includes green roofs, parks, water catchments, and private spaces like yards and balconies.
Cities can help cool their local area by encouraging green infrastructure, and given the heat wave the west coast is currently experience we need to invest in as much green infrastructure as possible.
The addition and maintenance of green infrastructure is now central to urban planning in most cities. This includes planting trees and bushes, naturalizing parks, restoring wetlands and promoting other forms of green infrastructure such as green roofs. Some cities, including Edmonton, have launched goat programs to control noxious weeds.
A complicating factor is that much of the urban greenspace is found in privately owned gardens. Depending on the city, gardens can make up between 16 and 40 per cent of the total urban land cover, and between35 and 86 per cent of the total greenspace. Governments have little influence over these areas, leaving it up to individual people to make the right decisions.
Urban highways occupy a lot of space that can otherwise be used for parks, housing, offices, or anything else that produces economic benefits. The post war highway building boom in North America destroyed communities (in the USA highways were built to purposefully isolate black communities), fuelled car-dependent suburban developments, and plunged cities into debt to finance the construction. Now, we pay the price for the thoughtlessness of previous generations with unsustainable developments, polluted land, and large swaths of our cities taken over by tarmac.
No more. Cities are removing their highways instead of going further into debt to maintain them (Toronto is an exception to this). As a result new land is essentially being created and new vibrant, prosperous communities are popping up.
Rochester’s Inner Loop, completed in 1965, is one prominent example. This freeway destroyed hundreds of businesses and homes while separating downtown from the rest of the city, theNew York Timesreports. And in recent years, local officials have been trying to undo the damage.
In 2013, Rochester spent roughly $25 million to take out an eastern segment of the freeway. Apartment buildings have since been built in its place, and smaller roads once separated by the Inner Loop have now been reconnected, facilitating the easy transportation of walkers and bikers in the area. Following the $25 million removal project, over $300 million of private investment was brought into the city,according to aRochester City Newspaperarticle.
Riding bikes has gotten more popular over the course of the pandemic due to the fact it’s a safe outdoor activity. Popularity of commuting by bicycle has also increased thanks to initiatives done throughout many cities to increase infrastructure supporting bicycling. All of this has led to demand for bicycles which far exceeds the current global supply. This is a good thing, the more people riding bicycles the better.
Things are pedal to the metal all over the country. Whether it’s Calgary, Toronto or Halifax, bike shops are slammed, with a surge that started in March 2020 and has not let up — and a backlog that some experts say won’t be cleared up for months or even years.
That’s provided a surge in demand for bikes. Market research firm NPD Group says Canadian numbers aren’t tracked, but in the United States, sales of bicycles increased 75 per cent in 2020 compared with a year earlier. For the first two months of 2021, the increase year over year was 130 per cent.
Growing your own food is fun and possible, even in a tiny space, so everyone should give it a try. Cities are finding ways to encourage more people to grow food locally for a variety of reasons, and they all revolve around dealing with climate change. Cities become more resilient to climate change thanks to the benefits from an increase in urban farming. Those benefits range from local cooling effects from growing plants to the more serious food supply issues felt around the world. There’s no better time than now to try your hand at starting a small food garden.
Apart from private backyard gardens, urban gardening includes larger community gardens, allotment areas and building rooftops that allow people who don’t have backyards to also grow food. Ryerson University in downtown Toronto operates a rooftop farm on its engineering building that has a little under a quarter acre of growing space.
In that little space in the middle of the crowded city, the farm grows about 4,500 kilograms of food every year that supplies the university community and local chefs.
Growing significant amounts of food within the city is not necessarily a new concept. Karen Landman, a professor at the University of Guelph who researches urban gardening, says agriculture used to be a part of North American cities before being gradually zoned out of urban areas after the First World War.
“It’s actually a very old practice,” she said. “There is a lot of land where it could be turned into food production. And if we really had to, we could produce a lot of food. There are other cities in the world where urban agriculture is the primary source of food for many people.”