15-0129 v2.1/York Region Sustainable Forestry Education Facility/Exceeding Surface Car Parking Allowance for Remote Location (Part II)

QUESTION

Our project includes the replacement of an existing Forestry Education building and the redevelopment of the site which is an example of integrating working forest landscapes and the built environment. Our goal is to eliminate perceived barriers between these landscapes as a way to increase and improve citizen’s connections and relationships with the natural environment.

The site serves as a showcase for sustainable forestry providing natural habitat, educational programs and a network of trails for hiking and forest bathing. The Education building is located near the entry to the facility along with parking areas that serve the entire site including trails, outdoor education spaces, forestry operations and other amenities.

The site design will embrace walkability and pedestrian-friendly development. The site surrounding the Education building will be human scaled and will provide access to the extensive trail network. Parking areas will be separated to avoid the contiguous parking lots associated with automobile-scaled development seen in sprawling suburban lots. The site will comply with all requirements of I16 with the exception of covered area for parking. Only gravel roads and parking surfaces will be provided (there is no asphalt).

To promote access to the site’s nature trail and increase the impact of education programs promoting sustainable forestry, the site must accommodate a large number of visitors throughout the year. This flow of visitors will be accommodated as much as possible through buses, shuttles (including free shuttles) and a comprehensive plan for carpooling. There is currently no public transit access to this site, although our project team will advocate for a transit connection. York Region has many progressive transit initiatives (including the SmartCommute program) and will continue to advocate for low-impact development.

Currently there are approximately 25 parking spaces on the site. The parking quantity is insufficient for current demand and during larger events attendees will park on driveways and on clear grassy patches. Safety and the health of vegetation are negatively impacted by cars invading the natural spaces of the site. This parking deficiency will only increase with the increased demand expected with the new building and expected population growth in the Canada’s fastest growing region. This we are proposing 50 parking spaces as part of the new development.

For the Forest Stewardship Education Facility to fulfill the goal of educating the public and providing connection to the joys of nature it is important to accommodate a high number of visitors. The reality of development in the surrounding area is that a high number of these trips will be by car. While car travel will be mitigated by shuttles and car pooling there is a practical limit to the reduction in car travel to the site. There is no planned transit connection and will not be for some time – our site is in a remote location.

Any further measures will lower the amount of social and environmental good that can be done through programs and connection to nature. Please confirm that the increased parking quantity is accepted for a Living Building in these circumstances. https://ilbi.org/action/community/dialogue/equity/humane/166276390/45214...

ANSWER

Given the educational value this project provides by creating public access to natural resources, an increase in allowable surface parking area for this project is granted. As mentioned in a previous post on Feb 1, 2013, "the team should be able to demonstrate to their auditor that the scale and ecological impact of the parking area has been reduced as much as possible."



Post ID 1998

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