Toronto’s green roofs held back by city bylaw

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A report by the Torontoist suggests Toronto is failing to reap the full rewards of green roof development within the city’s borders. That is, while Toronto is expected to install upwards of 200,000 square metres in green roofing over the next few years, the existence of a bylaw barring the growth of most food plants means they will fall short of their potential.

GreenRyersonBDIn its current form, the Green Roof Bylaw doesn’t specifically exclude the growth of food plants. What it does, however, is mandate that green roofs be comprised of plants that cover 80 per cent of the green roof by the third year—a condition which precludes a majority of food plants which otherwise live and die by the seasons.

According to Dylan Aster, a technical advisor from Toronto’s office of the chief building official, the rule is in place to ensure green roofs are beneficial throughout the year.“if the green roof was left to fallow and die, it wouldn’t be a functioning green roof,” he says.

Meanwhile, advocates like Scott Torrance, a green roof architect and designer, believe the city would benefit from relaxing its stance, noting, “I think there’s a way to meet the goals of the city in terms of storm water reduction and reduction of urban heat island effect and still have functioning planters that support food production.”

There is hope for the rooftop farming community. In March 2014, Joe D’Abramo, director of zoning and environmental planning at the City of Toronto said bylaw amendments weren’t out of the question, adding, “It’s something we’re going to have to look at in the future.”

Still, green roofers aren’t holding out for any changes in the short-term. With a degree of optimism, Torrance notes, “It’s just an incredible resource, all these roofs that we have … And to be able to promote local, healthy, organic food production is fantastic.”

Read the full story at the Torontoist

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