Parks and open spaces are vital to a community’s health. These spaces provide places for people to play, gather, grow food, learn about nature and celebrate. Citizens share these spaces with wildlife and plants. These spaces are also part of the city’s infrastructure network. Because Edmonton Metro is projected to nearly double in population from 1.2 million people to 2.1 million people by 2050, the City has embarked on a process to plan the city’s green network to meet the needs of growing communities.
Breathe is a transformative strategy to make sure that as the city grows, each neighbourhood will be supported by a network of green space. The Green Network Strategy will be based on a network approach that will support the connection and integration of open space at the site, neighbourhood, city and regional levels. Recommendations will be appropriate to multiple spatial scales—based on the demographic, diverse needs and type of usage that we are seeing today, and expect to see tomorrow.
Breathe brings together and builds on two of the City’s key guiding documents about park planning, construction, management and maintenance, as well as protection of the ecological network: the Urban Parks Management Plan and the Natural Connections Strategic Plan. This project is one of Council’s top priorities for 2016, and is one of the City’s 23 priority projects identified in the City’s strategic documents (“The Ways” documents). Breathe aligns with strategic goals for the City, in particular improving Edmonton’s livability, preserving and sustaining the environment, transforming urban form and encouraging use of public transit, walking and cycling.
Alignment with Existing Policies
Breathe is one of Council’s top priorities for 2016. The green network strategy will integrate with and complement various strategic, regulatory and policy frameworks. Building off The Ways guiding documents (The Way Ahead, The Way We Green, The Way We Grow, The Way We Live, and The Way We Prosper) for the City of Edmonton’s Strategic Vision to 2040, the Green Network Strategy can re-envision Edmonton’s Urban Parks Management Plan 2006-2012 to realize the full potential of the city’s open spaces in a multi-functional network that is relevant today, and for the future.
What is part of the Green Network?
The green network is all of the city’s outdoor land and water that is publicly owned and/or publicly accessible. Some examples of open spaces include:
- Parks and plazas, such as Churchill Square, William Hawrelak Park, John Fry Sport Park, Jackie Parker Recreation Area
- Main streets, such as Jasper Avenue, Whyte Avenue, and 124th Street
- Natural areas, including the River Valley and ravine system, Poplar Lake, Hodgson Wetland, and Pollard Meadows Natural Area
- Corridors and linkages, such as Mill Creek Ravine and Wolfwillow Ravine
- Green infrastructure, including bioswales (such as at the Ellerslie Fire Station and Mill Woods Park Parking Lot), publicly accessible green roofs, and bioretention / rainwater gardens (Eastgate Drainage Yard and Government House Park)
What is a Network Approach?
A network approach is a land-use planning approach that looks for solutions based on the interactive and interdependent nature of many factors. These factors include how people use the land, development planning, surface and groundwater flows, landforms and slopes, species and habitats, and ecological conservation.
Three overarching themes help to frame how we think about the green network and why it is important to people, the city and the ecological system:
Ecology: Open space protects the environment. By working with our ecosystems, we support natural ecological processes, save our riverbank from erosion and build habitat for animals such as birds, fish and moose, as well as plants and trees.
Wellness: Open space supports health and well-being, and offers places for people to be physically active and recharge mentally.
Celebration: Open space connects people to each other and builds a sense of place. These are key places for communities to thrive, gather and celebrate.