Each SNAP neighbourhood features unique initiatives to inspire residents, businesses and governments to take action. SNAP programs use the existing social and economic conditions of the neighbourhood and guidance from bigger-picture plans and strategies as the basis for targets and key actions on public and private properties.
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Many global, regional and watershed plans call for improved sustainability and actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Although numerous programs have emerged to support these directions, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is concerned that implementation in existing urban areas may not be happening as quickly or as efficiently as needed.
The implementation of environmental improvements in urban areas presents unique challenges, including multiple land ownership, competing demands for land, complex stakeholder interests and networks, a disengaged public, perceived high costs and unwillingness to try new practices and technology.
With this in mind, TRCA watershed plans — as well as local municipal and provincial strategies — call for greater attention to sustainable neighbourhood design.
While this approach is beginning to be reflected in the design of new neighbourhood developments, the greater challenge lies in transforming existing neighbourhoods, where no impetus for mass change exists.
The SNAP program, as one of the first of its kind, attempts to examine and develop the process for neighbourhood-wide sustainable retrofit. It will guide strategic infrastructure investments that will implement watershed and municipal plans and climate change strategies at the ground level.
Lessons learned from SNAP pilot projects can be used to accelerate the transformation of other urban communities.