GREENBELT FOUNDATION REPORT HIGHLIGHTS NATURAL INFRASTRUCTURE AS VALUABLE ECONOMIC TOOL FOR ONTARIO
“Natural Infrastructure in a Changing Climate” report discusses how climate-resilient infrastructure can save Ontario tax dollars
As Ontario examines opportunities for economic stimulation following the COVID-19 crisis, the Greenbelt Foundation has released a new reader-friendly report that highlights the economic, social and environmental values of natural infrastructure in Ontario.
Press Release: Greenbelt Foundation Report Highlights Natural Infrastructure As Valuable Economic Tool For Ontario
Natural assets, such as wetlands, grasslands and forests, provide more than just space for recreation and restoration—they also provide important infrastructural services, such as storing and purifying our water, reducing flood risk, offsetting the urban heat-island effect, sequestering atmospheric carbon, and more. When these natural assets are formally managed, they can work alongside traditional grey infrastructure (i.e. culverts, combined sewers, etc.) to provide cost-effective solutions to the challenges presented by climate change.
This new report, part of the ongoing In a Changing Climate series, highlights how conventional or “grey” infrastructure used throughout southern Ontario is under immense pressure from a rapidly growing population, subsequent development, and the effects of extreme weather. As climate change causes more frequent extreme weather events, an estimated $5.3 billion per year is needed to adapt Canada’s infrastructure.
There is good news, though—according to a report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, money spent on natural infrastructure provides a 6:1 return-on-investment. That is, for every dollar invested in climate-resilient, natural infrastructure, six dollars is saved in future damages. Actions individuals and communities can take to increase natural infrastructure in their communities is provided in the report.
"While COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on our economy, we know that climate change poses a similar threat to our region's economy, including threats to the infrastructure our communities are built around," says Kathy Macpherson, VP of Research & Policy at Greenbelt Foundation. "Cost-effective and resilient infrastructure is needed in a changing climate. Natural assets like wetlands and river valleys perform many services and can help meet this need. When managed well, natural infrastructure can save municipalities money, provide jobs, and protect communities from flooding, water contamination, extreme heat, and other climate impacts."
"Investments in green infrastructure can help deliver climate change adaptation measures while providing so many co-benefits" says Jen Hill, Assistant Dean at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. “From large-scale restoration or rainwater harvesting, which can add resiliency during times of drought, to individual homeowner rain gardens that can help manage rain water, green infrastructure can help at many scales and provide multiple services. To be most effective, green infrastructure will be implemented and supported by residents, NGOs and government at all levels.”
About the Greenbelt Foundation
The Greenbelt Foundation is the only organization solely dedicated to ensuring that Ontario’s Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all.
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