THE GREENBELT FOUNDATION
With the spring melt underway and water levels on the rise across Ontario, an innovative program that helps municipalities invest in natural stormwater infrastructure is timely. The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) is seeking Expressions of Interest from Greenbelt area municipalities looking to adopt low-cost, low-risk green infrastructure “natural assets” for stormwater management
Municipalities who participate in this program will be supported in identifying, prioritizing, valuing and managing key natural assets at the watershed level, through a series of workshops and technical support. The program welcomes collaborations between up to seven municipalities within one watershed.
In Ontario, municipal infrastructure is aging and capital and operating costs are rising while service delivery such as stormwater management is strained by growing populations and shifting weather conditions. Forests and wetlands provide core services normally delivered by engineered infrastructure, including water purification and stormwater management. The quality of services derived from ‘natural assets’ can, in some cases, meet or exceed those of pipes and culverts – but at a much lower cost that often avoids capital expenditures and produces other benefits such as cooler urban temperatures and healthier cities.
“Greenbelt municipalities have the opportunity to better understand, measure and manage the natural assets already protected by the Greenbelt,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “All municipalities have the ability to obtain core services such as stormwater management while strengthening local resiliency in the face of climate change and more extreme weather through the use of natural assets. Protecting and enhancing wetlands and naturalized ponds as part of a stormwater management plan can provide the same services as traditional grey infrastructure often with more flexibility and at a significantly lower cost.”
“Once we understand the value of services provided by natural assets, we can help municipalities to develop strategies to manage them as deliberately and effectively as any engineered asset, to ensure their long-term health,” said Roy Brooke, Executive Director of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. “We are looking forward to bringing more municipalities through our program and ensuring that municipal asset management increasingly takes into account the value of green infrastructure.”
Greenbelt area municipalities are encouraged to visit the website to learn more and submit their Expressions of Interest to participate in the MNAI program.