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Saanich rooftops could provide local food security

Saanich councillor Dean Murdock is pushing to make rooftop gardens much more commonplace in the municipality.

Murdock, who chairs the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, was expected on Monday to ask for support on a recommendation to have green roofs become part of the development guidelines for multi-family residential and commercial projects.

"There are a number of benefits to it. Obviously the food security aspect of providing some growing space in an urban environment … where you've got a lot of concrete or asphalt," Murdock said. "Green roofs are also great for capturing and retaining stormwater and retaining hot and cold air, helping to reduce the energy consumption of the building."

A green roof can be either intensive (a thicker layer of soil to grow plants and vegetables) or extensive (a thin layer of soil to grow grass or light vegetation). Murdock sees the most value in an intensive green roof, which is more like a garden.

He doesn't want to see rooftop plots as a mandatory building element, he said. Rather, he’d like to see them suggested to developers as a sustainable amenity on buildings.

Saanich already has more than a handful of buildings with green rooftops: the Social Sciences and Mathematics building at UVic has eight green roofs, while Tri-Eagle Development's Raven building on West Saanich Road also has one.

"My hope is that this will encourage the idea that this is something that would be a benefit in Saanich, and support our values of food security and environmental stewardship," Murdock said.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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