The role of municipal development plans in the promotion of ‘Nature-First Urban Green Spaces’
An opportunity exists to better integrate nature into our cities and towns. As humans we are hardwired to need nature and for most of us, this nature comes in the form of urban nature, or green spaces. Green spaces provide the opportunity for city dwellers to interact with and have a relationship with nature. Yet, reliance on the typical urban green space can no longer provide sufficient amounts of nature to foster the benefits which nature provides. The premise of this research is that changes in how green spaces are planned in suburban greenfield developments must occur to better protect and enhance the presence of nature in the built environment. In doing so, increased opportunities for urban dwellers to foster a relationship with nature are provided. In exploring the proposition labeled here as ‘nature-first urban green spaces’, the research methodology followed a qualitative case study of green space planning practices in Winnipeg, which included an analysis of municipal development plans and green space policies as well as informant interviews. Seven recommendations aim to enhance the presence of nature in Winnipeg and to increase opportunities for urban dwellers to foster a relationship with nature. The recommendations provide guidance to overcome existing green space planning challenges such as competing demand for land use and financial constraints, aim to strengthen the authority and effectiveness of green space policies, identify opportunities to further advance green space planning in Winnipeg, and encourage green space dialogue to promote nature-first urban green spaces. If applied, the seven recommendations can contribute to the planning and design of urban green spaces in Winnipeg to better reflect nature-first urban green spaces.