The climate case for building 15-minute neighbourhoods

Categories: News
Published on: September 6, 2020

Ecology Ottawa / Accessed 06 September 2020

The links between urban sprawl and climate change are well-documented in cities and regions around the world, but are perhaps best encapsulated for Ottawa’s context by former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dr. Dianne Saxe. Dr. Saxe has called urban sprawl “Ontario’s oil sands” – it’s the province’s main driver of greenhouse gas emissions, has a wide array of other environmental costs, and is bound up with a complex web of political and financial interests that benefit from the status quo.

More sprawl means people must travel further – often by car – to get to jobs and basic amenities. It also typically means more carbon-intensive housing patterns, with energy inefficient single-detached homes dominating instead of more compact forms. In Ontario (the Toronto area is shown below), there’s a clear link between climate pollution and urban form – with dense, walkable communities seeing the lowest levels of emissions.

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