Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sensitive Urban Infill in Surrey BC - Project Goals, Objectives and Methodology - Short Version

Sensitive Urban Infill Development in Surrey, BC
A 2050 Vision for Sustainable Growth

Design Centre for Sustainability (UBC) in partnership with the City of Surrey

1. Project Goal and Objectives

This project will help the City of Surrey identify implementable, effective, leading-edge strategies and solutions in support of enhancing sustainable urban development and redevelopment – particularly in its many extensive post WW II largely residential areas. This project is also tied conceptually and structurally to a second similar project, a project to investigate the creation of a sustainable agri food system on the cities extensive ALR lands. The purpose for this linkage is to insure that the entire fabric of sustainable communities is considered, particularly as urban landscapes meet agricultural ones. The process and outcomes will help actualize Surrey’s Sustainability Charter in physical form. Having emphasized this connection, this short summary of the Sensitive Urban Infill Development project will focus, for clarity, largely on the already urbanized areas of Surrey.

The Sensitive Urban Infill project will suggest solutions, strategies and tools in support of the following community development objectives:
1.      Moving the current job ratio (.7 to 1) closer to a ratio of one job for each worker.
2.      Reducing per capita GHG emissions attributable to area residents by 80% from 2007 levels by 2050 (in conformance with Bill 44, The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act).
3.      Develop practical and politically viable strategies for sensitive urban infill, particularly with regard to residential areas occupied by detached structures.
4.      Develop practical and affordable green infrastructure best practices for retrofitting existing streets and public ways.
5.      Develop practical and politically palatable strategies for providing diverse housing options for a rapidly changing demographic.
6.      Propose creative and affordable transportation options for transforming largely auto oriented areas to areas compatible with a wider range of transportation choices.
7.      Develop design strategies implementable over time for the protection/ enhancement of natural area ecological function and value as recreational amenity.

In addressing these objectives, we propose to examine sustainable, economically viable agriculture and sustainable, low-carbon urban design as linked projects. We will also identify synergies and likely trade-offs for meeting these and related sustainability goals and targets—through research, policy analysis and synthesis, modeling and mapping exercises, and a meaningful public urban design process.

2. Proposed Planning Questions

Based on a preliminary review of related policy and planning documents and discussions with City staff, we propose to address the following planning questions:

1.      What policy strategies and tools for sustainable, low carbon urban development and retrofit are available to the city, and are applicable to a variety of neighourhoods in a sub-urban context? How can the City’s sustainability charter be made manifest in the actual form of the city as it evolves. More specific questions could include:
a.      How can existing neighbourhoods change over time to help achieve Surrey’s anticipated population growth and demographic change?
b.      How much density and mixed use is desirable in which areas? How much would be necessary to support a community energy system?
c.      Are these choices compatible or contradictory? What could be done to improve their compatibility and integration?
2.      How can these strategies and tools be translated into action on the ground, including zoning, subdivision policy changes and changes to engineering regulations in support of enhanced sustainability?
3.      How can the city’s obligation to reach an 80% reduction in GHG emissions be met through such policy changes?

In summary, the linked projects will answer the following question: “What combination of sustainable agriculture and urban design strategies/ policies can be employed in Surrey to enhance local food production and economic development; create a greener, more livable city; and achieve GHG emissions reductions of 80% by 2050?”

3. Proposed Collaboration

The Design Centre for Sustainability at UBC and the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture  have formed a collaborative partnership based on our complementary expertise and shared perspectives on these important issues to extend and refine practical strategies for sensitive urban infill in the context of sensitive watersheds and the receiving agricultural lands below.

Schedule and Deliverables

A brief outline of the project schedule and deliverables:
1.      Staff Goals and Objectives and Research Priorities Workshop, May 2011
2.      Research Deliverables, August 2011
3.      Design Strategies and Targets and Baseline GHG Modeling Workshop, September 2011
4.      Sensitive Infill Design Charrette, January 2012
Final Report, May 2012

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