UPDATE: “HRM Budget – Green Network Plan Coordinator
$89,600 for a Green Network Plan coordinator was added to the budget without debate! The topic was brought up a few times, but only with supportive sentiments. No one motioned to debate it or remove it from the budget. Of note, Mayor Savage was very vocal about his support. This is a huge success for Our HRM Alliance members who have been fighting for a greenbelt plan since 2011, and now committed to seeing the plan implemented!” SOURCE – Our HRM Alliance Newsletter for April 2023 (received Apr 12, 2023)
At the HRM Budget Committee on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, the HRM Council has an opportunity to put a Coordinator in place for implementing the Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP).
We urge supporters of the Backlands to express their support for such a position by calling your Counciilor/writing the Mayor and Council..
More background is provided in this opinion piece published on the EAC website today:
|Opinion – Our HRM Alliance calling for action on resourcing the Halifax Green Network Plan in HRM budget
Our HRM Alliance is a coalition of over 60 organizations from environment, business, health and community sectors advocating for a sustainable future in Halifax Regional Municipality.
The alliance first came together in 2011 to advocate for a Halifax greenbelt, to protect Halifax’s remaining wild areas from sprawl development. Many have said that without the Alliance’s persistent advocacy of staff and elected officials, Regional Council would not have unanimously adopted the Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP) in 2018. Five years later, and we are still committed to ensuring the plan is implemented in time to preserve our rich green network.
Part of the challenge is, the HGNP does not have the staff resources compared to its other plan counterparts. But that could change! The Planning Department identified the need for a staff person to oversee and coordinate the HGNP, and thanks to Councillor Kathryn Morse this position has been added to the list of over budget items to be discussed Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Though the list is long, we feel a HGNP coordinator is vital to achieving progress on this long-delayed plan.
The Plan’s purpose is “to shape sustainable, resilient human and ecological communities.” At its heart is a network of protected open spaces across the municipality that provide ecological, economic, and sociocultural services. Implementing the HGNP will have countless benefits to residents, nature, and our communities. A protected green network provides free access to outdoor recreation, for physical and mental health, for biodiversity and climate action, to reduce urban sprawl, and protect the spaces that people move and live here to enjoy.
This is “make or break” for plan implementation, we can’t afford to wait any longer! In a staff report dated February 1st 2023, staff said, “Many HGNP actions are interlinked with climate action initiatives, such as protecting and enhancing parks and wilderness areas and ensuring connectivity for wildlife. From a climate emergency perspective, there is an inherent risk of inaction on protecting wilderness and green spaces, especially when development pressures are high. Inaction can result in long-term costs that are exponentially higher, resiliency can become more difficult, and the physical and economic impacts of climate change will have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable sectors of society. There is risk that if HGNP is not fully implemented in a timely manner, it will be more difficult to achieve the actions set out in the Plan.”
If you value Halifax’s rich natural assets that continue to disappear before our eyes, please tell our Mayor and Council to resource the implementation of the Halifax Green Network Plan. Email or write your Councillor before Budget Committee on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 or join us in having your voice heard. Sign up to speak during public participation at Clerk’s Office at 902-490-4210 or by email at email@example.com.