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Toronto puts green rooftops high on public planning agenda

Letter congratulates city for move to become first in North America to both require and govern construction of roof gardens.

Toronto puts green rooftops high on public planning agenda


May 20, 2009 — Toronto's Planning and Growth Management Committee voted on May 6th to recommend mandatory green roofs on a wide range of new buildings. Toronto is on the path to becoming the only city in North America with a bylaw that both requires green roofs and establishes the construction standards for them.



Planning and Growth Management Committee
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
10th floor, West Tower
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Members of the Planning and Growth Management Committee,

On behalf of the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC), I am writing to congratulate the Planning and Growth Management Committee on its recent support for the promotion of the By-Law To Require And Govern The Construction Of Green Roofs In Toronto. This decision is enormously valuable in helping to build a healthy, sustainable city, and helps to confirm Toronto's reputation as a leader in this field.

By way of background, the TFPC promotes local, sustainable, healthy and diverse food as part of its work with Toronto Public Health. The Council brings together 30 key actors from across the food system, partnering with business and community groups to develop policies and programs promoting community food security. Our aim is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health. Green roofs, which we helped initiate support for back in the 1990s, are an integral part of this vision.

Green roofs can provide new opportunities and spaces for urban agriculture across the entire city. There are many benefits to growing and distributing food locally, such as supporting the local economy, decreasing travel time and related environmental costs of getting food to market. Additionally, local production provides an opportunity to develop skills, share knowledge. It increases access to food by everyone.

Access to urban gardens, as offered through green roofs, plays a significant role in breaking the bonds of social isolation. When communities garden together, they build supportive relationships and increase access to services for individuals that may require assistance in other areas of their life. The creation of shared gardens allows residents to feel ownership of their community and to meet neighbours in a relaxed setting.

The TFPC founded the Rooftop Garden Resource Group, during the 1990s, spearheading the establishment of green roof research and promotion of a green roof industry in Canada. Continuing in this effort, the TFPC was invited to act as a member of the advisory group for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation study, "Greenbacks from Greenroofs". The City, along with the TFPC, initiated the City Hall Green Roof project in 1999 to prove that it could be done in Toronto. Now, as a result of the leadership of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, it will be done.

We appreciate the many tangible and intangible public benefits of reclaiming valuable urban space for use as green roofs. The recently expanded scope of the by-law is welcome. In working towards realizing the maximum benefit of green roofs, the TFPC strongly urges ongoing recognition and promotion of the important health and food-system benefits that will be found through the adoption of the by-law.

Sincerely, Janice Etter
Citizen Co-Chair
Toronto Food Policy Council
277 Victoria Street
Suite 203
Toronto, Ontario
Tel: 416-392-1107
Fax: 416-392-1357

The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) manages this information service for people working on food issues with community organizations, social agencies, public health units, educational institutions, faith and justice organizations, and local governments.

Links and sources
  Toronto Food Policy Council website
  Toronto Food Policy Council email

Posted: May 21, 2009

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