greenWR.org is an organization that promotes Green Development Standards in rural communities in Waterloo Region.
Much has been written about the impact of climate change and the necessity to stop releasing greenhouse gases into the environment. As a result, as of January 18, 2022, 644 municipalities in Canada have declared a climate emergency (https://raog.ca/climate-emergency-declarations-canada/). The list includes Kitchener (June 24, 2019), Woolwich (September 24, 2019), Wilmot (September 24, 2019), Wellesley (October 8, 2019), and Waterloo (October 9, 2019).
The Ontario Building Code establishes minimum standards for building construction and its primary purpose is to promote public safety and health. The Building Code does not set standards for energy efficiency, ground water protection, soil health, tree canopies or proximity to public transportation. Any regulations beyond the minimum building code are the responsibility of the local municipality. Many municipalities have implemented Green Development Standards as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change by increasing energy efficiency, reducing the use of fossil fuels, encouraging compact mixed use developments and improving public transportation.
Green Development Standards have been put in place in many cities around the world. In Ontario, Green Development Standards have been, or are being, implemented in:
The majority of Green Development Standards have been developed for urban areas and very few existing standards are suitable or rural Ontario. Some solutions to the climate change problem, such as rapid transit, are not suitable for rural areas due to the population density. It is possible to implement 15 minute neighbourhoods in small towns and villages but, for most cases, this is already the nature of small towns. Rural Green Development Standards needs to protect farmland, protect ground water, and mitigating flooding as well as intensifying existing settlement areas. Any new subdivisions need to be designed and built to the urban Green Development Standards for healthy, vibrant communities (compact, mixed use development, energy efficiency, tree canopy, and green space).
Our goal is to provide a comprehensive set of Green Development Standards, based on existing standards, that can be customized by the Townships.