First, what a Greenbelt is NOT:
- A Greenbelt is NOT a park. The Municipality does not have to buy land to create a Greenbelt. A Greenbelt is created using ZONING to protect certain areas from development.
- A Greenbelt is NOT a museum. Many of the uses that already exist on the Greenbelt will stay that way, including residential uses, farming, industrial, etc. A Greenbelt prevents land from being developed for intensive residential or commercial uses.
A Greenbelt IS:
- A Greenbelt is series of large areas, patches and corridors that are ZONED by the Municipality, through the Municipal Planning Strategy, to as “Environmental Reserve” (or something similarly named) where commercial and residential development are not allowed.
- These areas are picked based on ecological and social values. For instance, we wouldn’t want to surround all of our lake access with private homes, making the lakes inaccessible to the community, would we?
- In the same way, we want to encourage the building of homes and stores in communities that already have a main street, where groups of people can build a community and small businesses can serve local residents. In other words, we want to encourage more neighbourhoods where residents can walk to get a carton of milk.
- In this way and many other ways, a Greenbelt is an economic opportunity to promote local procurement of food and goods, tourism, and recreation. It can have positive impacts on urban sustainability, can help to strengthen rural economic viability, and can help to make HRM a unique and attractive destination for tourists and future residents.
Recently, HRM mapped all of our highest ecological values in HRM – the ones we need to preserve for the health of our natural and human ecosystems. You can look at that map by clicking here. This would be a great place to start for a Greenbelt, since we know the areas identified by this map are indispensable if future generations are to enjoy Nova Scotia’s nature like we have!
- HRM is growing at a slower rate than the rest of Canada, with a 3.3% population increase against the national increase of 5.0% since the 2011 census.
- At the same time, the census showed that within metropolitan Halifax, certain suburban areas grew by much greater margins than did the regional centre: for example, Halifax West saw a population increase of 10.3%.
- Growth is happening so the tax base is naturally increasing. Growth is good, but not if the growth costs more than it earns in taxes.
- Research done in 2013 by Sustainable Prosperity showed that the cost of servicing suburban households is more than double the cost of servicing urban households.
- This means that we’re building communities where the taxes do not pay for the needs of the community, like transit, sidewalks, community centres, soccer fields, etc.
- If we concentrate growth in existing communities to increase density and lower the costs of servicing these communities, it will help to stabilize tax rates.
- By directing growth to the right places and building dense, complete communities that do not cost the taxpayer more than they provide in revenue, we also improve the amenities that people have close to their own neighbourhoods, like transit, small businesses, parks, and community centres.
- If tax rates stabilize or decrease, more people will be able to afford to live here, thus helping to boost the population growth. A Greenbelt and a plan for good Growth are both key to stabilizing municipal costs, because a Greenbelt directs growth away from the costly outskirts of the city and a Growth Plan directs growth into the existing communities that need more economic activity.
- In HRM, there is a distinct divide between urban and rural interest and prosperity. A Greenbelt could serve to link the local economies in both places and help them to support one another and grow sustainably.
- For instance:
- It could help to promote local food procurement within the boundaries of HRM (primarily from Musquodoboit Valley) and from urban and suburban farming activities;
- It could facilitate connections between recreational and active transportation trails in different communities helping to bring urbanites to rural communities to support their businesses;
- It could help to bring innovative ideas that support small urban and suburban communities into their rural counterparts.
- A greenbelt could also help to form partnerships between community groups from distinct locations working on similar issues.
- For instance, by:
- Bridging the gap between poverty and homelessness in Halifax and in the surrounding HRM communities;
- Growing food procurement strategies like the Mobile Food Market (http://www.mobilefoodmarket.ca/) in communities further from the regional centre;
- Promoting connectivity between groups working on active transportation in different towns, linking them to broader projects like The Blue Route (http://blueroute.ca/).
- These are just a few examples – the possible ways that a greenbelt can grow connections and inspire a broader vision for regional governance are numerous and depend significantly on the spatial awareness that a widely accessible greenbelt map could create.
HRM has incredible natural assets that people come from all over the world to see – from the Halifax Waterfront to Peggy’s Cove, from Martinique Beach to McNabs Island. Ribbon development along the tourism vistas and greenfield development around parks and recreational areas threatens these assets and serves to hinder the prosperity of the tourism industry. A greenbelt would serve to protect these key areas and vistas that allow tourists to easily navigate their way around HRM and enjoy everything that we have to offer. Promotion of trails and ease of access to various beaches and recreational areas could also serve to aid economies in suburban and rural areas outside of the regional centre, attracting customers to cafes, breweries, restaurants, bed & breakfasts, museums, local shops, and other tourist attractions.
The idea is simple.
Don’t build here.
Our HRM Alliance is
After years of advocacy, the
2014 Regional Plan