Urban treehouses

We don’t normally think of tree houses as urban dwellings.  Usually when one thinks treehouse it is with memories of  back yard private kid spaces or on the flip side, romantic tropical getaways.  A community of  tree houses in the city would be unthinkable one might ponder.  But that is precisely what University of Westminister graduate, Matthew Chamberlain, proposes.  The designs are innovative and sustainable, and well, kind of fun and romantic.  Read more on Chamberlain’s vision here.

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The F Factor

Flooding.  With all eyes focused on our country’s recent and extensive flooding crises, there are many schools of thought on how to deal with repeat occurrences.  Unfortunately, the time for reactive thinking is over.  The time for proactive strategies is now.  And it is real.  And it is urgent.  The facts are in, the looming and catastrophic effects of  climate change are fast becoming the reality and it is time the various levels of government start implementing solid measures to keep our cities and citizens safe.  A recent article in building.ca speaks to the impact on the infrastructure that these repeat flood events have and, offers some solid suggestions on what we need to do now, to prevent a disaster later.  Read the article here

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Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall will be speaking Friday, April 12, at Ryerson University.  It is a rare engagement for our city to host the world’s most renowned champion of chimps.  Having dedicated her entire life to the understanding and relationship of this magnificent species, she will also be addressing environmental issues and humanitarian struggles around the world.  For more information, click here.

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A City Tree With A Purpose

A recent installation in London may just be the next big thing in the battle against city smog.  Designed by Green City Solutions, this city bench is home to a variety of mosses that effectively act as a large air purifier.  This living wall soaks up pollution that would otherwise take the equivalent of 275 trees to do the same job.  Read more about this sound, environmentally conscious design here

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Return to the Badlands

In 2015, the decision was made to close off  public access to the Cheltenham Badlands due to fears of erosion caused by overuse.  Since then, The Ontario Heritage Trust together with the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo have been working on a master plan to quell the damages to the fragile shale formations.

Good news came recently when it was announced that the Cheltenham Badlands located in Caledon, will re-open to the public on September 22.  Designated trails and a new boardwalk will allow visitors to explore this unique landscape while ensuring its protection for generations to come.  Read the article from Blogto for more information.

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The greening of a neighbourhood

A few Montreal neighbourhoods have taken the initiative in establishing “ruelles Verte” or Green Laneways where once only run-down and ill-maintained laneways existed.  The results are proving to be not only environmentally beneficial but an example of social enhancement within the neighbourhood.  Bertrand Marotte writes a great article for the Globe and Mail which gives insight into the pros (many) and the cons (few) of these beautifully community transformations.  Check out the article here.

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Going with the Flow

With rapidly evolving environmental change, comes a need to address the issues at hand and to adopt new techniques to deal with global crisis.   In areas where flooding has become or is in danger of becoming a constant threat, architects and planners are developing procedures and structures to withstand the scourge of overflowing banks.

This ingeniously designed home in the UK is working with the forces of nature proactively to manage a potential flood disaster.  Dubbed as the UK’s first amphibious home, the unique design allows for the residence to rise above menacing flood waters if needed, safeguarding the structure, the people and the possessions within.

More on this clever design and execution can be found here

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Building the city’s resilience.

Extreme weather and an ever-growing rental housing shortage top the list of Toronto’s greatest challenges according to Elliot Cappell, the city’s chief resilience officer.  Speaking at a recent Urban Land Conference, Cappell spoke openly on the reality of our rising waters as well as our declining low/middle income housing.  He paints a bleak picture of the ongoing battle to re-develop the 1,189 apartment complexes built before 1985, into livable and affordable rental space.

Mr. Cappell expressed equal concern over the urgency of pro-actively implementing a flood prevention strategy to safeguard the city from catastrophic flooding. These are real-time issues given the massive flooding of last summer and the critical housing shortage that has woven itself into the very fabric of our city.

Both issues present an uphill climb with enormous financial commitments which will require private and public-sector participation in order to implement and maintain.  Click here to read more on Mr. Cappell’s challenges as he leads the charge on these two looming concerns.

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Flying responsibly

Inside Toronto reports that the GTAA released its “Growing Responsibly: the 2018-2022 Noise Management Action Plan”.  The major focus of the plan is to work towards overall quieter operations.  Among some of the commitments studied are night flight restriction plans, quieter aircraft incentives, greater environmental responsibility and noise insulation to area homes.    For more information click HERE

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Cooling Things Down in L.A.

With the cooler temperatures upon us, some of us may fondly be recalling the days of summer when the words “It’s so hot, you could fry an egg on the pavement,” was not much of an exaggeration.   In more southern climes, the heat is a year round concern.   Generated  through the sun, the heat is intensified through asphalt on the the city streets which holds it in and raises air temperature even higher.  But the folks of Los Angeles are finding creative ways to combat this problem and one way is by painting their streets white.  A trial run is underway and the results are promising albeit a little on the pricey side.  Once  the collateral benefits are factored in however, it looks like L.A. just might be onto a viable solution to a hot topic of concern.  Click here for the full story.

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