Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category

it’s all about trees >> and numbers >> on Earth Day 2016

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Lad with earth day tree

Today, Earth Day turns 46. What does middle age mean for this global environmental event? An exciting theme and an ambitious goal: the Global 2016 theme is “Trees for the Earth”.

And as Earth Day edges closer to celebrating its half-century anniversary, Earthday.org is asking people around the world to plant trees, with the hope of reaching 7.8 billion trees planted by Earth Day 2020.

That’s one tree for every person on the planet!

In Canada, it’s the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Earth Day Canada, and citizens in this country are invited to participate in the #Rooting4Trees ‘pledge and plant’ campaign. The goal is to help grow a forest of 25,000 trees.

For our part here at vivaNext, we enthusiastically embrace and support the goals of Earth Day. Earth Day serves as our annual springtime reminder that we’re on the right track, as we continue building transit treasuring and protecting the natural environment, promoting smart growth, and building vibrant, livable cities, and healthy communities.

Following the theme of trees, very soon, you’ll see crews planting trees, shrubs and greenery along the Davis Drive rapidway and along Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

And in support of the movement to care for the earth – and to thank the Newmarket community for their patience during construction – watch for vivaNext at the Town of Newmarket’s upcoming Community Cleanup & Fun Day on Saturday, May 7.  We hope you stop in and see the vivaNext team.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

green space = safe space

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

green space = safe space

We’ve seen reports that support why having greenery around us can increase prosperity, improve health, and now new research says it makes the surrounding area safer.

It’s not so much the trees and shrubs themselves that keep people safe. Having an attractive space attracts people to spend time in the area – and puts more ‘eyes on the streets.’ And green space that appears cared for lets everyone know that someone owns, uses and maintains it. In the case of streets, it’s a sense of community ownership.

Well-maintained green spaces are thought to give an abstract sense of social order, and according to a community greenery experiment in Youngstown, Ohio, the safety and order extends to the surrounding area. There are all types of crime, and you can’t always predict where it will happen, but the pride of place on display with a nice park or streetscape seems to bring about positive behavior.

It’s exciting to see the trees along the Highway 7 East rapidway growing another season of new leaves, and people out enjoying the spring weather on the new sidewalks. We’re looking forward to planting trees this year on Davis Drive in Newmarket and on Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

So trees aren’t just trees. They, and their team of shrubs and grasses encourage health and wealth, and they fight crime in their spare time.

 

a touch of nature…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

a touch of nature…

…makes the whole world kin. At least that’s what Shakespeare wrote. Everyone wants to help out the environment, even just a little. And the key to making that happen is to weave it into what you do. At vivaNext, we do what we can to help out by incorporating environmental and sustainable standards into what we do.

saving…

When we built a transit facility in Richmond Hill, more than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by recycling. This equals about 582 tonnes, or enough to fill 32 city buses. The facility was built to LEED Silver standards, and includes a rainwater recycling system for the bus wash, which saves about 5.5 million litres each year. When we build rapidways, the old asphalt is taken to local recycling centres, saving valuable construction material for re-use.

planting…

Every rapidway project includes tree-lined sidewalks with special under-sidewalk root systems and tree and shrub species chosen to best suit their location. Including greenery in our communities has important side benefits, including improved health for residents, increased property values, better business outcomes, and reduced energy costs. Each project is unique, and where there are creeks and culverts, our work includes natural restoration, which creates better conditions for wildlife and aquatic species. For a peek at how we connect with nature, check out our video.

building!

And don’t forget the most important thing we’re doing – building rapid transit! Adding sustainable travel choices to our landscape is the most important thing we can do to help our communities thrive. Each bus can replace up to 70 cars and during peak hours along rapidway routes, can be up to 42% faster and certainly reduces emissions. Having fast, reliable transit within walking distance helps support the growth coming to our downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill – and this central growth helps prevent suburban sprawl.

We’re doing what we can to help the environment and making it part of what we do. Earth Hour is 8:30-9:30pm this Saturday, and we’ll do that little bit extra by powering down and we hope you will too.

 

farms need cities

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

farms need cities

Most people would agree that outside the city limits, there should be rural, green space. It’s important for agriculture, for wildlife, and for us to experience our natural landscape.

The Oak Ridges Moraine Act [2001] and the Greenbelt Act [2005] together protect 69% of York Region’s land. Considering York Region’s fast growth, the remaining 31% needs to be carefully planned, with higher density in the cities.

Farmland has changed in Ontario over the last several decades, with fewer, larger farms and more technology used for efficient production. Wildlife has changed too, with York Regional Forests in place and more awareness of our impact on nature. But one thing that hasn’t, and likely won’t, change is that wildlife and farms need cities to grow in place, without expanding into the countryside.

This is where new urbanism and transit-oriented development come in. They’re about planning the best ways for a city to grow, and ensuring there’s a variety of housing and employment, and transportation options like bus rapid transit and subway. Building where we already have development makes a lot of sense. It keeps urban, urban and protects rural from becoming suburban. It also creates a focused city centre that attracts people to do business or shop, all of which is supported by great transit to get around.

Using the land we already have in York Region’s cities and towns is smart and it’s sustainable. If we stick to this plan we’ll be watching population grow in our vibrant cities, and trees and crops thrive in the country.

 

3 ways function will meet beauty this year on Highway 7 West

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Greenery red pavement paver stones

There is always a point in time every January when it seems like the bitter wind and frozen ground will never give way to gentle breezes and fresh green grass.

If you’re having one of those moments, here are three things to look forward to this year, after winter is over – in particular, three features of the rapidway project that match function with beauty.

Here are three functional, attractive developments you will see happen on Highway 7 West in 2016:

1. Sidewalks, beautiful sidewalks

Want to be the first person to ever walk on sidewalk on Highway 7 all the way from Jane Street to Keele Street? This is the year you’ll be able to do so, for the first time in Highway 7’s history. Those sidewalks will also be beautiful to walk on, with gorgeous paver stones. If you need to look at a sample of what’s to come, you can check out the already installed sidewalk on the north side of Highway 7 between Jane and Creditstone, along Highway 7 East in Markham, and on Davis Drive in Newmarket.

2. Greenery

Concrete planter boxes are being constructed in the centre of the rapidway and along the sidewalks. This spring, they will be filled with nutrient-rich soil and planted with a carefully curated selection of trees, bushes and plants. Highway 7 West will turn green!

3. The iconic red pavement

This is the year you’ll get to see that glorious red asphalt appear along the newest rapidway on Highway 7. Suffice to say, we get very excited about seeing this roll out, because it delineates the rapidway and because it looks so darn great. Once again, function meets beauty.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project on Highway 7 West in Vaughan, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe”.

one with nature

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

see video: one with nature

As York Region transforms our key development areas from suburban locations to more urban one it’s important that we create attractive and welcoming public spaces. This means designing buildings with aesthetics in mind, considering the accessibility of civic spaces, public transit and incorporating the natural environment into the urban landscape.

It’s important to create urban settings that integrate natural elements for a number of reasons. It beautifies public spaces, and also provides health and economic benefits to the community. One way to ensure that York Region’s urban centres are one with nature is to invest in green infrastructure. This includes trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants that will become a part of our urban forest.

Mature trees absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and particulates, cleaning polluted urban air. In addition, research suggests that investing in green infrastructure will result in improved health for residents; People living on Toronto blocks with 10 or more trees are less likely than other residents to report conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or obesity. There is also documented evidence that investing in green infrastructure will result in increased property values, better business outcomes, and reduced energy costs [read our previous blog on the topic].

On top of our commitment to green infrastructure, vivaNext is committed to respecting the natural environment that already exists in York Region. Our work to extend bridges and culverts along the Region’s corridors includes natural restoration plans, which will create better conditions for wildlife and aquatic species. Intensification of the urban centres and corridors means that municipalities will be building up instead of out. With population densities increasing in these areas there will be less pressure for sprawl to reach farmlands and green spaces. Greenery of the future York Region will be a harmonious mix of urban forest and open green space – providing something for everyone!

Along the Highway 7 East rapidway, vivaNext has already planted 1,250 new trees and 10,000 new shrubs. To watch how this investment, and future investments, will benefit York Region check out our video.

 

trees do make you healthier!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Trees July16

As transit riders, most of you already know that taking transit can make you healthier. But now there’s a study reported by the Toronto Star that tells us that having trees on your street can not only make you healthier –but make you feel healthier.

As we continue to build new segments of rapid transit, we at vivaNext feel strongly that tree-lined streets help to make the new spaces more enjoyable to live and work in. They certainly create a welcoming, inviting environment that we can all feel proud of.

Click to read this fascinating article.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe”.

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

Friday, June 19th, 2015

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

Planter boxes and trees are coming to Highway 7 in Vaughan! Along with the paving [have you heard about all the paving?] activity that’s been happening along the rapidway construction, you’ll soon be seeing crews building planter boxes between Jane Street and the CN Bridge.

The arrival of the planters is a big deal – to us and to the neighbourhood – because these structures will be housing trees and plants.

One of the most desirable qualities of a livable neighbourhood is the presence of trees. And at vivaNext, we have very deliberately designed the rapidways with this vision of a tree-lined, livable neighbourhood in mind. Part of our goal with the new boulevards is to bring to life the “complete street” concept – the guiding philosophy for our streetscape design.

As development continues and the population in York Region grows, it means that there will be more people walking and riding along the rapidway routes. So we’ve made sure that our boulevard design is going to be visually appealing as well as functional. And the trees and plants we’ve planted will grow to shade the area for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to see how green the Vaughan area of the rapidway will eventually become, take a look at Highway 7 East. The Markham section of the vivaNext rapidway is bursting with growing, thriving trees and greenery, thanks in part to all the sunshine and large amount of rain we’ve had.

However, most of you will probably notice that Mother Nature is getting quite a bit of help along the way. Landscaping crews are currently out there every day, installing planter boxes, planting flowers, bushes, and grasses, topping up topsoil and distributing mulch, planting new trees and replacing the few that didn’t survive the winter.

As you go for a stroll, ride your bike, drive, or take a bus ride along the rapidway[!], be sure to look around you and take in the newly tree-lined greenery-filled boulevard on Highway 7 East.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe.”

 

greenery all around us

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

greenery all around us

Most people see the environmental benefits of having greenery around us. Trees and shrubs help to filter the air and water, and provide shade and habitat for animals and birds. But when you look at a tree, shrub or plant, it doesn’t bring to mind the economy. Last year, a report from TD Economics calculated that in Toronto, a single tree returns from $1.35 to $3.20 per every dollar spent on maintaining the “urban forest,” and the returns for Halifax and Vancouver were even higher. It also noted the higher value of real estate in neighbourhoods with mature tree canopies.

There are environmental benefits and economic value, and then there’s the intangible – the way we feel when we’re on a tree-lined street and the satisfaction we get from watching the seasons change. We may not look forward to snow, but you can’t deny it looks nice on tree branches.

If you’ve ever planted a garden, you know that every plant isn’t always successful, especially after a harsh winter. Along the new Highway 7 East rapidway in Markham and Richmond Hill, we’ve planted almost 300 trees and thousands of perennials and grasses. We use soil cell technology to ensure trees have the best chance at survival, and the types of trees and shrubs are selected carefully. Even so, sometimes a few don’t make it through the winter, in which case we replace them under the two-year warranty we have for all of our trees, shrubs and plants.

In the next couple of weeks, our landscaping crews will be out on Highway 7 to help the new greenery on Highway 7 East thrive for many years to come. Whether you’re walking through a forest or travelling Highway 7 East, we hope you connect with nature now that spring is finally, [finally!] here.

 

Earth Day and every day

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Earth Day and every day

This April 22 marks the 45th Earth Day – the 1970 event that served as a catalyst to the global environmental movement. This year, according to Earthday.org, it’s expected that a billion people will be participating in Earth Day activities, which makes it not just the largest environmental event in the world, but the largest “civic observance”.

The very idea of all those people celebrating with activities and activism warms our collective hearts here at vivaNext. According to Earthday.ca, in Canada alone, more than six million people will be participating in an Earth Day activity in their community.

If you’re also a tree-lover, plant-lover, cyclist, or transit geek, you probably feel as strongly about Earth Day as we do – Earth Day shares so many of the vivaNext goals. And every year, the arrival of Earth Day serves as a springtime reminder that we’re on the right track, as we continue building transit and reducing the need for car traffic, protecting or enhancing the natural environment, promoting smart growth, and building vibrant, livable cities, and healthy communities.

On Earth Day and every day, we continue to do our best to create rapid transit that provides our communities and citizens with a green travel option that’s convenient, and that helps to improve how residents get around York Region.

Interested in greening up your commute even more than you are currently? Earth Day Canada is presenting their annual Clean Commute challenge. The Clean Commute toolkit provides 25 ways to reduce your carbon footprint, plus you’ll find out the carbon reductions that can be achieved. Every effort is a step in the right direction.  Join us in making a difference.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!