April 2006 ISSUE

Nice Catchphrase — But What Exactly Does it Mean?


Everywhere you go in the professions these days, the term urban sustainable development crops up. Like any catchphrase, it falls comfortably off the tongue. But putting it into practice demands some conscious decision making.

Editor’s Note: Although the following article is part of a continuing series from the APEGGA Environment Committee, it includes important professional development information — for those planning to attend the APEGGA Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting, this month in Edmonton.

APEGGA’s Guideline for Environmental Practice defines sustainability as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This, says the guideline, is done through the balanced application of integrated planning and the combination of environmental, social and economic decision-making processes.

Sustainable urban development is a concept that focuses on improving the quality of life and competitiveness of cities. The better we understand the policies and practices that affect the quality of life in cities, the better the position we will be in to enhance their competitive positions in the global economy.

What is a Sustainable Community?
“A sustainable community uses its resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are available for future generations. It seeks improved public health and a better quality of life for all its residents by limiting waste, preventing pollution, maximizing conservation and promoting efficiency, and developing local resources to revitalize the local economy.”
— Concern, Inc. (1993)

A sustainable community may also be defined by its development, economy, energy usage, waste management and environmental policies. In a report prepared for the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, Nigel Richardson compares more sustainable strategies with less sustainable strategies (below).

Now What?
So this all sounds very apple pie. But what does this mean to us? What can we do?
APEGGA is pleased to host a two-day session on sustainable urban development, April 20-21 in Edmonton. This series features nationally recognized leaders speaking on how we can sustainably transform Alberta cities and towns in ways that are climate neutral, pedestrian friendly, transit oriented and community focused.

Purpose of Session
 • to highlight best practices, tools, guidelines and standards, and inter-linkages with policy for sustainable urban planning and development
 • to provide networking opportunities and to share ideas and information on sustainable urban development.

Who Should Attend?
 • environmental, transportation, structural and municipal engineers and geoscientists
 • architects, landscape architects, planners
 • builders, developers, building owners, operators
 • building officials, safety codes officers, other municipal officials.
At this time, registration is closed. But walk-ins will be accepted.

More Sustainable

Less Sustainable

Compact forms of residential development.

Low-density, spread-out residential development.

Mixed land use; homes, jobs and shopping in close proximity.

Segregation of land uses: homes, jobs and shopping separated into uniform tracts or concentrations.

Employment based primarily on education and skills.

Employment based primarily on environment polluting or non-renewable resource based industry.

Movement on foot and by bicycle and transit.

Heavy dependence on private cars.

Wind, solar, geothermal energy.

Thermal and nuclear energy.

Tertiary treatment of sewage; use of natural means of sewage treatment.

Discharge of sewage into water bodies or water-courses untreated or with low level of treatment.

Protection and use of natural hydrologic systems.

Hard surfaces preventing infiltration; channeling natural water-courses.

Natural open space; protection of wetlands, woodlands, stream valleys, habitat, etc.; use of manure, compost, integrated pest management, etc.

Destruction of natural landscape; "manicured" parkland with exotic species; heavy use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides.

Reduction of waste; recovery, re-use and recycling of waste materials.

Landfills, incinerators.



Session Summary
Visit www.apegga.org