2. Why a greenway? – The advantages

By Patrick Asch

When we talk about protecting our green spaces, we inevitably have to confront certain biases that arise from a lack of knowledge about the real importance of this cause. Also, many people are under the impression that protecting green spaces is the concern of ecological-treehugger groups – and thus beyond the general public.

Before coming to any conclusions about the future of green spaces in Montreal, it’s important to look at key data that could shed real light on the value of protecting our green spaces.

Promoting local ecotourism

According to Aventure écotourisme Québec, most Quebecers would like to engage in ecotourism activities located close to home. By protecting Montreal’s green spaces, we could be impacting the lives of everyday Montrealers by giving them places where they could indeed engage in those activities – and stimulate local economies too. What kind of impact? Let’s take a look at some statistics…

Green spaces create jobs and attract economic investment — and are increasingly attractice to the youth segment (indicating the possibility for market growth). According to the Quebec government (MRNF), recreational outdoor activities in Quebec generate $2.9 billion in economic investment and 32,000 jobs!

Tthe tourism industry is also the fastest growing segment of the Quebec economy.

Increasing quality of life and community property values

In general, people like to live close to natural areas (aesthetics, recreation… basic instincts). For this reason:

  • Neighbourhoods located close to forests or waterways are considered more valuable.
  • Greenways (like the Bruce Trail, Ontario), forests and lakes are used as selling points by real estate agents.
  • Various studies have shown property value increases of up to 32% when the properties border a green space.

Improve the image of our communities

Cities with a greenway use that fact to promote their communities as places where:

  • sustainable development is a priority
  • the quality of life is high
  • potential employees of a company will enjoy living

As a result, more people want to live near greenways and that means more economic prosperity in that area.

Improve the health of our communities

  • More people would be inclined to walk, bike, etc.
  • More people would use the greenways for alternative travel
  • The natural vegetation would improve air quality
  • The hot spot effect would also be reduced thanks to the presence of vegetation

Protecting green spaces impacts quality of life and makes recreational activities more accessible to Montrealers, but it also increases the appeal and value of our communities. Each dollar invested in the protection and enrichment of our green spaces has a positive economic impact in the future.

Montreal has two choices – either opt not to invest in the protection of the island’s green spaces and see precious ecotourism dollars being spent elsewhere – or  make decisions that will keep our local economies stimulated.

Read 1. Why a greenway? – Background.

Lisez l’article en français: 2. Pourquoi une trame verte? – Les avantages.

Photo by Charles l’Heureux.

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