HRM has scheduled the Public Engagement sessions for the Halifax Green Network Plan, where they are looking to gather information from the public about how we can best implement data collected in the first two phases of the Plan.
We’re advocating for the HGNP to create a Green Network (the same as a Greenbelt) to protect all our beautiful natural landscapes across HRM from residential and commercial development. This would not create a giant network of parks, but instead would using zoning and easement measures to protect the most vulnerable landscapes. HRM has already identified exactly where the Green Network should be in Map 6 of the Primer Report (page 31) by identifying the most valuable open green spaces and the most crucial corridors that connect these green spaces. This is The Green Network!
Here are some measures you can suggest in the consultation that would help make the Greenbelt a reality:
1. Updated Land Use By-laws for the Community Plans (this cannot wait until the next Regional Plan review in 3 years; by that point, some of the most crucial corridors will be lost)
2. Amend the Growth Centres where they overlap with high-value environmental land (likewise, this cannot wait until the RP review)
3. Create a new zone to classify Green Network land – this zone could be called “Environmental Reserve Zone”, and wouldn’t change any of the current uses on the land (i.e. agriculture, rural residential, etc.) but would prevent any intensive residential or commercial development on the area.
4. Invest in the Green Network as a way to promote tourism in HRM. Many of the environmentally sensitive areas and corridors also fall within some of our most beautiful recreational areas and along our most picturesque rural towns. The Green Network could create a larger, regional vision for tourism promotion and awareness of the many things we have to offer outside of downtown.
The below map is a data set that we created to highlight the most vulnerable areas in HRM, where Map 6 identified a “essential” or “important” corridor but the current land use policy allows for development at a point in that corridor, which would effectively destroy the corridor. Our research shows that of the 28 “Essential Corridors” identified by HGNP data, 18 are conflict areas that are under pressure or zoned for development. Likewise, of the 56 “Important Corridors,” 45 of these are conflict areas that are under pressure or zoned for development. This means that 75% of the identified essential or important corridors are currently zoned for various residential or commercial development.