Bird-friendly development

yellow-rumped warbler, credit: Tim Zurowski/Shutterstock

Monday November 23, 2009
Posted by John Lorinc

Beginning next year, new building projects in the City of Toronto will be expected to meet a minimum green design standard that includes bird friendly development guidelines. “All new development will have to be bird friendly,” says Toronto environmental planner Kelly Snow.

The guidelines, which date back to 2007, are intended to make buildings less dangerous for migratory birds by emphasizing different types of glass treatments, reduced light pollution and other measures. That year, the city also launched its “lights out” campaign for downtown office buildings and other large structures.

Snow says the document is unique and has drawn interest from many other cities, both in Canada and abroad. Recently, the Swiss Ornithological Institute asked permission to translate it into French, German and Italian.

He says the city has been talking to local developers about implementing such measures in their projects, but adds that none have adopted all the policy guidelines, although downtown landlords have reduced their overnight light usage. “Anecdotally,” Snow says, “if you compare the nightscape in 2007 and 2009, there are fewer lights on.”

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