Ryerson Urban Water hosted the Opening Plenary of the Grey to Green Conference on May 8th 2017. Now in its fifth year, the conference brings together various green infrastructure stakeholders to discuss recent innovations, policy frameworks, and partnerships in Canadian green infrastructure.
The plenary featured Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner of City of Toronto as Key-Note speaker. In her opening speech, Keesmaat emphasized the need for resilient planning of urban infrastructure to support healthy and sustainable cities. She also highlighted the urgency for innovation to develop more agile solutions to respond to key challenges like climate change.
The event included a panel discussion of green infrastructure experts moderated by Nina-Marie Lister, Graduate Programme Director and Associate Professor of Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. The experts included Deborah Martin-Downs, CAO, Credit Valley Conservation; Steven Peck, Founder and President, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities; Scott Torrance, Practice Leader, Scott Torrance Landscape Architect; and Pegeen Walsh, Executive Director, Ontario Public Health Association. The speakers started with presentations to show case their work then held in-depth conversations on barriers to advancing green infrastructure from a variety of professional perspectives The topics raised reiterated the importance of integrating multifunctional approaches in green infrastructure and embracing it throughout planning phases for its various advantages including health, economic, and environmental benefits.
As part of its commitment to advancing water education and mentoring the next generation of water professionals, Ryerson Urban Water organized the Future Leaders of Green Infrastructure session and exhibit. Students from Ryerson University and University of Toronto were invited to present their designs highlighting the latest solutions for implementing green infrastructure. The session fostered engaging discussions on connecting neighborhoods via green corridors, supporting Toronto’s ravines, educating municipal decision makers and developers, and integrating green infrastructure across multi-jurisdictional regions. The students were empowered and had productive discussions with green infrastructure professionals and enjoyed excellent networking opportunities.