Investing in Nature is Delivering Dividends

Sourced from the Toronto Star

A flooded basement costs, on average, $42,000 to repair according to research from the University of Waterloo. For homeowners, major insurers and a growing number of municipalities, basement flooding is just one example of the knock-on effects of aging, over-burdened infrastructure, population growth and more frequent major storm events due to climate change.

As population centres grow, municipalities are on the hook for upgrades to infrastructure capacity and preparedness for extreme weather. Loss of green space that can absorb run-off due to increased urbanization diverts more water to aging stormwater systems. Some experts are pointing to green infrastructure as a cost-effective solution to ease this burden on grey infrastructure and provide a whole host of other benefits.

“Green infrastructure like trees, wetlands and rivers can often be much more cost effective than grey infrastructure, which needs to be replaced over time,” says Shelley Petrie, program director at the Greenbelt Foundation. “Green infrastructure offers a different choice in terms of how we build, shape and pay for our communities.”

With nearly 10 million residents, the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is home to seven in 10 Ontarians. The question of how to shape our growing communities is an urgent one, as 3.8 million more people are expected in the region by 2041.

For Green Roofs for Healthy Cities president Steven Peck, the solution is obvious. “Investing in green roofs, green walls, forests and wetlands makes us healthy and allows our cities to withstand heat waves, major storms, and other climate impacts,” says Peck. He argues there are significant cost savings to be realized as well. “There is significant research that shows green infrastructure can actually reduce grey infrastructure costs, and creates more jobs per dollar spent.”

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