The urgent need to green our cities

Other viruses will come. Other disasters will hit Quebec. Not anytime soon, hopefully. But by learning from the past – and trying – the year, you can be better prepared for the next big blow to the boycott. Here is one of the projects that will be implemented so that you will never face such difficult times again.

The epidemic has increased awareness of excess vehicle space in urban areas, to the detriment of green spaces. Is this the trauma that we needed to redevelop our cities on a human level?

When the first confinement was announced in March 2020, city dwellers invaded green spaces in equal measure From Costco on Saturday morning. Car travel is reduced to a minimum. Urban hype gave free rein to bird song. Suddenly, the epidemic gave us a glimpse of the city’s new possibilities.

“It’s not just Montreal’s green spaces that have blossomed in popularity. Suburban gardens too. Christian Savard, Managing Director of Vivre en ville, an organization that works to promote sustainable development in our cities, explained that the increase in their presence showed us how important these places are to our lives and resilience. Collective.

Planning experts unite: We must move forward in rapidly greening our cities in order to make them more resilient in facing future crises, whether of a healthy or climatic nature. The strength of trees should not be underestimated. Not only does it purify the air and cool the ambient temperature, which helps to counter the heat island phenomenon, but many studies have shown that its presence contributes to improving the mental health of the population, by reducing stress and anxiety, ”explains Claudel Petrine Desrosier, Resident Physician and President of the Quebec Society of Environmental Physicians, which has more than 200 members.

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If our cities lack green oases, then they are fewer in the deprived neighborhoods and the most densely populated, Like Parc-Extension in Montreal or Vanier in Quebec. “Access to nature should be a universal right and not a privilege for the wealthier residents, who can also get out of town by car more easily,” says Cyril Frazzo, CEO of Nature Québec.

The current problem is that health standards are still rarely taken into account in urban development. “The law on land use and town planning, dating back 40 years, focuses everything on cars and building real estate,” Isabelle Pirobi, of the Nature and Parks Association, Quebec Division, dislikes.

This law is in the process of being amended. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, André Laforst, recently He started a national conversation On city and country planning.

Then things move in some places. In Montreal, the mayor of Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, François William Crotto, unveiled at the end of 2020 Environmental transition and resilience planWhich thoroughly reviews the principles of urban planning. This policy places great emphasis on improving the city’s natural ecosystems, in particular to enhance biodiversity. “The more resilient the ecosystems, the better they can serve us, for example by harvesting rainwater into fresh islands,” says Francois William Crotto. For the city as a whole, the Montreal City Climate Plan states Planting 500,000 trees by 2030.

The mayor of Rosemont-La Petite Patrie also doubts car takeover. These underrated public spaces take up a large percentage of the floor. The proliferation of cycle paths is not the only solution to break this monopoly. “Stores can occupy more of this public space, energize the neighborhood and contribute to the vitality of commercial arteries, which have been hit hard by the wave of digital shopping,” says Francois William Crotto. This one is studying Also The possibility of allowing citizens to acquire parking spaces on the street in order to develop terraces or gardens.

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Will the post-pandemic city be greener and more inclusive?

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