Green Infrastructure and the Sustainable Metropolitan Village
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The current model of suburban development in Canadian cities has serious consequences for the natural environment. The ubiquitous landscape of sprawl consumes excessive amounts of greenfield land and natural resources, while maintaining an artificial relationship with nature that is more concerned with the aesthetics of lawns and trees than with natural ecosystems. This thesis proposes a new planning paradigm that is derived from the ideals of the Garden City, but is steeped in the notion of green infrastructure as the foundation for ecological health. It makes use of greenbelts and greenways as circulation systems for people, plants, wildlife, water, and natural processes. The towns of Newmarket and Aurora, which are situated within a pocket of developable land amid the Greater Toronto Area Greenbelt, are selected as a case study area. An in-depth analysis of the cultural and natural ecosystems that function at various scales across the region provides the framework upon which the design is structure. The design is twofold. First, it is primarily a planning thesis with an ecological approach to design. It provides a working methodology for green infrastructure at the regional scale, and illustrates a schematic plan for a sustainable metropolitan village, “Leslie Village”, that is tied to Newmarket and Aurora’s existing suburban fabric. Secondly, it illustrates the schematic design response to the planning thesis, by providing nominal visualizations of key areas where the proposed greenway intersects public space. Leslie Village challenges the traditional model of development and provides a new planning system whose methods and principles can be transferred to other communities in the GTA, and across the country.