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Research Project

Finance and Policy Tools to Support Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management in the Greater Toronto Area

P.I. Dr. Carolyn Johns
Associate Professor
Department of Politics and Public Administration
Faculty of Arts
Ryerson University

Municipalities across Canada invest significant portions of their budgets in stormwater management infrastructure through their own operations, partnerships with the private sector and through policies related to new development. Grey infrastructure or traditional infrastructure is the hard and impervious infrastructure to manage the water cycle and stormwater. Green infrastructure (GI) includes a wide range of natural vegetative systems and green technologies that collectively provide a multitude of environmental, economic and social benefits to municipalities. Implementing conventional grey stormwater infrastructure primarily occurs on public lands but implementing GI on a sewer-shed or watershed scale requires participation of the private sector, developers and property owners.

This research project examines the current state of municipal policies, budgets, finance tools and policy instruments being used to support the shift from grey to green-infrastructure in the GTA with a particular focus on stormwater management. Existing policy and planning literature indicates that various policy instruments are potentially available to encourage GI installations including subsidies, grant programs, incentive programs, stormwater utility fees etc. In addition to a literature review related to the use, advantages/ disadvantages, costs/benefits of these instruments in comparative contexts, the focus of this research project is on assessing which of these various forms of GI are encouraged or discouraged under, existing municipal policy frameworks and budgeting/finance policies in Toronto and Mississauga. The focus is primarily on public infrastructure budgets and municipal policy instruments but includes research related to documenting and analyzing the financing and policy tools in place to facilitate GI choices by both municipalities and the private sector.