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

by John Ingram

4.0 Natural Landscaping and Halifax: Barriers and Opportunities

This chapter answers the thesis research question: What are the barriers and opportunities for the adoption of a natural landscaping strategy in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM)? For the purposes of the arguments that will be made, a natural landscaping strategy may be defined as a comprehensive municipal policy framework and implementation strategy that:

  1. recognizes the environmental, fiscal and societal costs of conventional urban landscaping;
  2. promotes and applies the concept and practice of natural landscaping as an alternative land management tool to
    i. help restore landscape function and processes to municipally maintained parks and open spaces;
    ii. promote urban environmental stewardship; and,
    iii. realize public landscape maintenance savings;
  3. includes a standardized site selection and implementation process to determine what public properties and parcels of municipally maintained properties are suitable for naturalization and to decide how the landscape conversion would occur, eg. natural succession, habitat creation etc.;
  4. incorporates a revised municipal service standard for naturalized areas;
  5. utilizes a prioritized landscape conversion and restoration schedule developed through a detailed urban landscape audit and mapping process;
  6. facilitates natural landscaping on private property through the creation of supportive by-law structures.
  7. includes an integrated public education and involvement program with a complementary internal training program for landscape maintenance staff and other city officials.

A model strategy approach is exemplified by the City of Fort Collins, Colorado as described in the previous chapter.

Before moving into a discussion of the barriers and opportunities for the adoption of a natural landscaping strategy in HRM, the chapter first places the question in the local landscape by providing an overview of HRMs urban landscape. This introductory section 4.1 determines the municipality's dominant aesthetic landscape standard for both public and private property and briefly reviews the service program for municipally maintained greenspaces.

The following section 4.2 then moves into the discussion of the thesis question and examines the legislative, regulatory and policy opportunities and barriers to the adoption of a natural landscaping program in HRM. It is divided into separate sections dealing with, first, the enabling and, second, the constraining regulations and policies. Section 4.3 then moves into the more subjective realm of informational, attitudinal and bureaucratic constraints and opportunities. As with the previous policy and regulations section, the constraints and opportunities are handled separately in their own sub-sections.

Next, section 4.4 provides a general review and analysis of the previous sections and presents some conclusions as to the prospect of a natural landscaping strategy being developed and implemented in HRM. The section also includes a cumulative table of barriers to, and opportunities for the adoption, or creation, of a natural landscaping strategy in HRM. This is followed by a concluding section, 4.5, which affirms the importance of natural landscaping to HRM and makes a series of recommendations to facilitate its entry into the municipalitys public policy realm.

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