CSLA Urges our Nation’s Governments to Address Canada’s Housing Crisis Without Impairing Natural Environments or Encroaching on Greenspace

House on a coastline

December 21, 2022

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects urges all levels of government in Canada to provide and plan for adequate housing for citizens in support of sustainable development goals and the creation of resilient communities. 

Encroaching on greenspace and impairing ecosystems is not a sustainable practice and careful scientific analysis and planning are required to understand the impacts of removing lands from protected status.
Our country’s natural heritage is composed of wetlands, forests, valleys, rivers, lakes, prairies, tundra, ocean coastlines and farmlands. Its health is reflected in the biodiversity and inter-connected ecological systems that have survived from pre-colonial eras. These areas have been protected throughout history by designated greenspaces, conservation authorities, parks, and land use zoning. 

With the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, our natural heritage systems play an ever more important role and provide benefits such as:

  • providing essential habitat to maintain biodiversity 
  • improving our air and water quality
  • recharging aquifers
  • mitigating and attenuating flood risks by infiltrating and slowing the runoff from more frequent and intense storms
  • improving our mental and physical health by providing recreation
  • contributing to food sovereignty and security by providing essential farmlands and habitat for pollinators

The integration of the natural environment in our urban areas has been a quintessential cornerstone to good development practices in Canada. However, the approach to urban development of the past is contributing to the environmental, economic, and social challenges of Canadians in the present. Our growing and redeveloping communities need substantial natural systems to remain healthy and resilient as the frequency and intensity of flood, heat and other extreme weather events increase. New approaches to planning and development strategies are required to achieve housing security and sustainability for future generations. Planning opportunities and investment in retrofitting, urban brownfield and built environment density advance the socioeconomic priorities and maintain greenspace ecosystems. 

Landscape architects appreciate the importance of managing growth and development. As stewards of the natural environment the profession is tasked with the planning for, and protection of, the land, resources, community, and its diverse peoples. Ensuring that our housing needs are balanced with the regard for environmental and society needs requires innovative approaches that do not perpetuate harm or create a crisis for future generations.

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