World Town Planning Day takes places annually on November 8th and is an international day celebrating the importance and great contributions of planner in their communities whether they are urban or rural. According to Statistics Canada, about 86% of the population lived in urban areas while 14% rural communities in 2011. While each community is unique, the role of planners in protecting the health of its community and environment is equally important.
Urban planning initiatives within cities and suburban areas are extremely important for the future of the environment. Urban planners contribute to the building of parks and other green spaces which allow different types of natural ecosystems to flourish. Building local parks and wooded areas contributes to a stable environment within the city and helps to address environmental sustainability and climate change. Planners also help to jump start different initiatives such as waste management and recycling programs in an attempt to reduce ecological footprints. They often go into local schools and teach students about recycling while also showing them how to do it as efficiently as possible.
Rural Ontario faces different challenges when it comes to environmental protection and addressing climate change. While there are fewer people, there are more natural areas that require protection and enhancement. At the same time, there are pressures to locate infrastructure and energy projects in areas where there are fewer people and more space. Furthermore, rural planning considerations in areas such as community design, active transportation, planning for special age groups, cultural strategies, and revitalization have often been overlooked in provincial planning initiatives. Some of the province’s newer plans however start to address this, such as the 2017 Growth Plan.
In order to bring awareness to the public regarding rural planning, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute developed the Health Rural Communities Toolkit which allows people to fully understand the old and new planning strategies within the rural setting which can be put into action in order to help citizens, who are not familiar with planning, make a difference in their community.
EcoSpark has a series developed workshops and resources to better understanding land use planning and its environmental impacts. EcoSpark produced a teacher guide and curriculum-linked lesson plans about Ontario’s 2017 Growth Plan, called Growing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. EcoSpark also has a teacher guide and workshops about the Geography of the Greenbelt as well as a Citizens’ Guide to the Oak Ridge Moraine. These topics are extremely important to the growth of different ecosystems which ultimately affect people and land in both urban and rural environments.
There are also many different activities going on around different communities in celebration of World Town Planning Day. The Ontario Professional Planners Institute website contains a schedule of different times and dates for events that teach and celebrate different types of planning as well as resources.
This blog was contributed by guest writer, Michael Trinetti. Michael is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto studying Geography and Sociology. He has an ongoing interest in how surrounding environments ultimately impact cities and people living in them. Michael is currently an academic intern at EcoSpark.