When Cities Grow Wild - Natural Landscaping from an Urban Planning Perspective

by John Ingram

3.0 Municipalities and Natural Landscaping: Other Initiatives

The following section provides an historical overview and summary of natural landscaping from its humble beginnings as the pursuit of a few dedicated private gardeners to its present status as what can legitimately be considered a bona fide social movement. Through the review of both private initiatives and some of the more recent and pertinent municipal natural landscaping programs, this section builds on the previous one and establishes the broad and well informed context in which the thesis research question will be answered. By way of a series of small case studies split between the two major divisions of private and public property, this section establishes the scope, thrust and present state of the natural landscaping movement and helps position initiatives in Halifax in relation to it. Additionally, the section summarizes some of the general themes, issues and important legal precedents which are of special relevance in determining the opportunities and constraints for Halifax Regional Municipality to adopt a natural landscaping strategy.

Although the chapter tracks the general public, political and legal reaction to the practice, it neither intends, nor attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of current policy and program initiatives. The sheer volume of undertakings currently underway is simply too vast to be considered within the scope of this thesis. Such a review is also not required to provide the background necessary to answer the thesis question.

Section 3.1, Natural Landscaping on Private Property, first provides an historical overview of natural landscaping on private property. The by-law implications and the court-based challenges natural landscaping has faced are then examined in section 3.1.1. An overview of the current permissive and supportive natural landscaping by-laws and ordinances follows in section 3.1.2. As an associated issue, Section 3.1.3 provides an overview of corporate natural landscaping initiatives and also comments on recent natural landscaping programs in large-scale subdivision developments. Finally, section 3.1.4 concludes the first section of the chapter and introduces the next major section.

Section 3.2, The Public Realm and Natural Landscaping, deals with natural landscaping policy and program initiatives in the public realm. Although the largest sub-section is dedicated to municipal initiatives, the section is not limited strictly to the subject. Federal, state, provincial and regional policy and program initiatives are all given consideration as well for two reasons: first, it is often from the higher legislative authorities that some municipalities have received their mandates to adopt natural landscaping strategies; and second, many of the programs initiated and carried out by higher levels of government have occurred in urban areas and provided those municipalities with their first exposure to natural landscaping and, in some cases, acted as the catalyst for them to develop complementary programs of their own. Next, section 3.2.2 recaps the summary and offers a general discussion of the current barriers and opportunities in the public realm for increased natural landscaping programming. Finally, section 3.3 concludes both the section and the chapter itself.

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