Environmental sustainability is an important aspect to consider when planning a city as it affects the population and the quality of their lifestyle. By implementing actions to enhance a sustainable area for a population to live, this allows the people to in the city to live a healthier life, without having to worry about poor air, water or land quality. In this report, examples and actions regarding the environmental sustainability in Hamilton, Vancouver and Halifax is demonstrated. Ultimately, this shows the similarities and contrasts between cities along the east, center and west areas of Canada through their environmental issues, the initiatives that are currently working to resolve these issues and future sustainable plans for the area. In the past, Hamilton was known for their abundance of manufacturing factories such as the Dominion Glass, Westinghouse and Camco (Huang,2014). As a result, the air pollution had been an issue since the 1990s (Huang, 2014).
During the early 2000’s there was approximately 229 deaths due to bad air quality per year (Huang,2014). Yet, the population growth in this cities continue to escalate due to the business growth and student residence. It is estimated that the city has a population growth of 3. 1% per five years (Huang,2014). This puts pressure on the city to improve their environment in order to create a habitable and healthy place for people to live. Currently, Hamilton is dealing with several issues due to the poor urban planning, thus affecting the water quality of the watersheds. To begin with, the forest condition in the is ranked at a fairly low score of C (Craggs, 2013). On an average, a healthy amount of forestry near a watershed is approximately 30% (Craggs, 2013). However, the percentage of forest surrounding a watershed in this city is only 19% (Craggs, 2013). Due to these low numbers, the water quality continues to plummet. Essentially, in many cities, the forests are often removed to make room for urbanization, such as increasing roads, parking lots and homes (Cotrone). When it rains, this causes the water to flow in to flow the bodies of water (Craggs, 2013). Without the presence of these forests, there is essentially nothing to minimize the water that gets poured in to the watersheds (Craggs, 2013). This causes the rain water to collect the waste and pollutants from the land and directly washes them in to the bodies of water (Cotrone). Furthermore, this also increases the volume of these watersheds, causing the water to move quicker (Cotrone). Ultimately, this will result in environmental issues such as flooding, decrease in fish habitation and generally poor quality in water. Another issue that Hamilton is currently facing is the poor planning of impervious surfaces (Craggs, 2013). Impervious surfaces are artificial structures such as pavement, allowing water to flow through quicker and more abundantly (Craggs, 2013). On the other hand, having a pervious surface means that the land is based with soil that can absorb the water as it passes through (Craggs, 2013). Having too much impervious surface ultimately causes poor water quality and allows all the waste and pollutants from the land to be washed up in to the water (Craggs, 2013). Hamilton, being ranked F for this category has immense issues regarding their planning of impervious surfaces (Craggs, 2013). This issue is mainly focused in the area around Dundas Valley as the area is paved to implement parks and trails (Craggs, 2013).
In Halifax, the environmental degradation issues are mainly focused in the high concentration of smog (Smog, 2009). Depending on the weather and location of the area, the air quality varies. The source of the smog also vary in sources. However, the main source of smog is through the emissions from outside the region that gets blown in to the city (Smog, 2009). In Figure 1, the image shows a map of North America and pinpointing the movement and direction of the air (Smog, 2009). The Arctic airstream shows the arrows pointing towards the east coast of Canada, where Halifax is located (Smog, 2009). As a result all the emissions migrates towards the city, thus increasing the smog levels (Smog, 2009). Furthermore, the populations lifestyle is also a main factor to the high percentage of smog in Halifax (Smog, 2009). As the population in Halifaxs is highly dependent on automobiles and gas powered items, this ultimately releases an abundance of air pollution (Smog, 2009). As Halifax is located near a large body of water, the temperature tends to increase during summer, thus further increasing the amount of air pollution that gets transmitted into the air (Miller, 2017). Essentially, as temperature increases, the ozone particles in the smog form faster, thus degrading the air quality at a much faster pace (Miller, 2017). Ultimately the poor air quality affects the populations health. It was proclaimed that Halifax has the highest rate of asthma and heart disease individuals in Canada (Smog, 2009). In addition, the high numbers in air pollution is also harmful towards the vegetation as it causes degradation in forestry, fisheries and therefore minimizing the agricultural resources produced in this city (Smog, 2009). Figure 1: Map of Air movement in North America (Smog, 2009) Vancouver is generally considered to be a more environmental friendly city, proven by its high ranking as the third most sustainable city in North America (Lazatin & Duran, 2017).
The planning behind this city has a significant influence to the city’s success in sustainability. Due to the “Vancouverism” planning tactic, the city is able to incorporate the high rise buildings that is necessary to adequately fulfill the population density, and at the same time appreciate the environmental settings (Mitanis). For example, the Stanley park, Sunset Beach Park and Queen Elizabeth Park are just a few examples of the countless parks located in the Vancouver area (Trending, 2016). Although Vancouver is considered to be an environmental friendly city, there are still a few aspects regarding sustainability in which there could be improvements. To begin with, urban sprawl is a significant contributor to the environmental degradation (Trending, 2015). As Vancouver tend to have a low density population in each area, this ultimately means that the population is using more energy in their homes (Trending, 2015). Essentially, low desidenty areas tend to use more energy than higher density areas as these homes take up more energy usage (Trending, 2015). Furthermore, because destinations are so spread out, it creates an inconvenience for people to get to the places they need to go, thus minimizing pedestrians (Trending, 2015). In addition, people would often choose driving private vehicles over public transit as trains and buses in Vancouver tend to be more costly (Trending, 2015).
As a result, the air pollution within the city continues to worsen due to the high numbers of automobile use. As automobiles are the leading contributor to air pollution, it was estimated that private vehicles accounted for approximately 18% of the smog and 31% of the greenhouse gases in the city (Trending, 2015). Corresponding to the areas in which these cities are located, they each demonstrate environmental degradation. The contrasts are present in the different types of pollution located in each part of these cities depending on their history, location and planning. For instance, Hamilton has issues regarding the water pollution due to impervious surfaces, Halifax experiences poor air pollution due to the air movement from other parts of the continent while Vancouver demonstrates high numbers in air pollution. Ultimately the roots to these issues vary, but is similar in the way that it is degrading the environment and negatively affecting the health of the population. Although the air pollution in Hamilton has been gradually improving, there was no significant initiative for this issue until the recent five year (2016-2025 Strategic Plan, 2015). These initiatives mainly focus with the engagement of the population and motivating people to be more involved with the environmental sustainability of their city. For example, the city connects with the citizens through non-profit organizations that organize events for the people to get involved with the environment. One of the largest initiatives is the Hamilton Industrial Environmental Association (HEIA-Who Are We).
Their ultimate goal is to reduce the pollution in the air, water and land by driving the community to take part in the events (HEIA-Who Are We). In the past, the HIEA has organized several successful events, thus making a positive impact on the environment in Hamilton (HEIA-Who Are We). Recently, they worked with the Bay Area Restoration Council to organize the Yellow Fish Road project for students to learn about the issues regarding storm weather pollution (HEIA-Community Initiatives). The group essentially took groups of students out to distribute flyers and get the entire community to be aware of this issue (TRCA Yellow Fish Road). Furthermore, another successful initiative organized by the HEIA is the Adopt-a-Creek clean up event (HEIA-Community Initiatives). This event allowed members of all age groups to participate in cleaning up the environment (HEIA-Community Initiatives). The organization organized the participants in to groups to clean up urban creeks and waste that had been washed up into the valleys (HEIA-Community Initiatives). Ultimately, organizations like the HEIA continue to work to improve the environmental sustainability within Hamilton (HEIA-Who Are We). As a result, it is relevant that the land and air pollution has been improving throughout these past decade. However, this city remains to deals with immense issues regarding the water quality due to the poor planning around the watersheds. In Halifax, there is currently several city organizations to maintain a sustainable environment. For instance, the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee is a council is an organization that hold weekly meetings to discuss the current environment issues, following different approaches to solving these issues (Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee, 2018).
This council engages with the community through advising information and consultations such as solid waste, energy security and water resource management (Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee, 2018). Furthermore, the Blue Dot movement is another organization that aims to improve the environmental sustainability in Halifax and all around the world (Connecting the Blue Dots in Halifax: Let’s show our local leaders that people support the environment rights!). Essentially, the goal of this organization is to implement environmental rights in order for everyone around the world to be be able to have access to fresh air, clean water and healthy food (Connecting the Blue Dots in Halifax: Let’s show our local leaders that people support the environment rights!). The Blue Dot movement is known for their national day of action event that support environmental right for areas all around the world (Connecting the Blue Dots in Halifax: Let’s show our local leaders that people support the environment rights!). During this day, the organization has an action day in several locations around the world, thus aims to expose this movement to a wider range of people (Connecting the Blue Dots in Halifax: Let’s show our local leaders that people support the environment rights!). In Halifax, the action day occured at the Victoria Park, where people came out to the bike ride event to support this movement (Connecting the Blue Dots in Halifax: Let’s show our local leaders that people support the environment rights!). Ultimately, there has been several community engaging events that aims to motivate citizens to support a sustainable environment. Within the Vancouver city, there are several organizations that work to protect and improve the environment. For instance, the Environmental Youth Alliance is an non-profit organization that aims to connect youth with the natural environment (Pablo, 2015). The organization’s main objective is “force of young people changing the world, one seed at a time. ” (Pablo, 2015) This is done through hosting gardening events that takes children and youth directly to the nature (Pablo, 2015). Through these events, the participants are able to learn about the issues regarding environmental sustainability within their community and be engaged with ways to fix these issues (Pablo, 2015).
Another notable non-profit environmental foundation in Vancouver is the David Suzuki Foundation (Our Work). The main objective of this organization is to protect the climate and sustain a habitable community for the population (Our Work). This organization runs through donation from supporters that goes towards research. With this research, this organization does work relating to policy analysis and collaborates with other non-profit organizations (Our Work). Additionally, this organization posts articles regarding current environmental degradation issues on their website to inform the population of the current issues (Our Work). For example, one of the recent articles talked about the methane that is produced from oil industry’s and the impacts it has on the environment (Methane pollution). Through these organizations and initiatives, it is clear that all three cities have several initiative that are working hard to overcome these issue and improve the environmental qualities. Essentially these cities all have similar goals in mind to prevent pollution from escalating and improve the quality of life within the city. The Hamilton city council established a future plan to recognize and improve the environmental sustainability within the city. Essentially this plan is designed for the years 2016-2025 as they achieve the the best livable place for people to raise children and age, thus widening their population diversity (2016-2025 Strategic Plan, 2015). In order to achieve this plan, the city plans to engage the community through non-profit events and motivate people to take part in cleaning the city (2016-2025 Strategic Plan, 2015). Furthermore, the city plans to educate people in the cities forestry, horticultural programs, wastewater collection and water distribution in order to further engage people in to living a sustainable lifestyle (2016-2025 Strategic Plan, 2015).
Halifax aims increase the population to 470,000 by 2021 by improving the amount of green space and promoting environmental sustainability, ultimately attracting people to come to the city (Make Halifax a Better Place to Live and Work). For instance, the city plans to enforce activities for the citizens in order to promote the support for energy efficient appliances (Make Halifax a Better Place to Live and Work). Furthermore, in order to create a healthy environment for families, the city of Halifax aims to increase more green municipalities such as parks and recreational centres so that people can have an easier access to the outdoors (Make Halifax a Better Place to Live and Work). Vancouver is known to have little environmental degradation due to their successful planning. In the past, it is relevant that the city puts priority in their sustainability, thus this value for the environment initiates prosperous goals for the future. To begin with, one of the main goals is the Greenest City plan (Greenest City).
This plan aims to alter vancouver to become the greenest city in the world by 2020 (Greenest City). Essentially, the city plans to fulfill this goal through changing a substantial portion of entrepreneurs into support green initiatives. As of now, companies such as Westport Innovation, Salt Works and Ballard Power has been initiating green alternatives to energy consumption (Greenest City). For instance, the Westport innovations work to implement clean-burning alternative fuels for members of the city (Greenest City). Furthermore the city also plots to reduce greenhouse emissions 33% throughout the decade, decrease the energy use by 20%, and ultimately reducing the waste that gets disposed into the landfills by 50% (Lee). It is clear that these cities all have prosperous plans to improve their environment for the future. These goals prove that cities all across Canada have similar goals to protect the environment and sustain a healthy and habitable environment for the future. All in all, it is relevant that cities throughout different areas of Canada may share different environmental issues. However through organizations, these cities are all taking initiative to resolve the environmental degradation that is currently issuing in cities around Canada.
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