Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu and District City Councilor Matt O’Malley announced that they filed an ordinance at the City Council meeting aimed at strengthening the City’s ability to fight climate change and reasonably regulate development. The Local Wetlands Protection Ordinance would empower the Boston Conservation Commission to require green infrastructure with new development, including protections for urban wetlands, which are an important natural resource to manage flooding and reduce urban heat island effect.
“Boston must take bolder, faster, more proactive steps to mitigate and manage our vulnerability to changing weather and intensifying storms,” said the lead sponsor Councilor Wu. “Nearly every other coastal municipality in Massachusetts has already gone beyond the state baselines for protecting urban wetlands and natural resources, and we must do the same. These land resources are too valuable to lose to development–they’re important not just for conservation, but to guard against severe flooding and heat that disproportionately harm our most vulnerable residents and communities. This is an issue of social and environmental justice.”
“It is imperative to codify preservation efforts for local wetlands in the City of Boston as a coastal municipality. As we address the impacts of global climate change, we must explore measures to ensure our urban environment landscape is preserved,” said Councilor O’Malley, who is Chairman of the Environment, Sustainability and Parks Committee. “The ordinance will further the protections of wetlands, as well as the plants and wildlife that grow in them.”
Boston is currently one of only three coastal municipalities in the Commonwealth without a local wetlands protection ordinance. Boston has 209 wetlands areas distributed throughout the City, including areas in each City Council district. The legislation comes out of an initial hearing sponsored by Councilor Wu and chaired by Councilor O’Malley in August 2018 with representatives from advocacy groups and the City’s Environment Department. Tomorrow’s proposed ordinance will be assigned to the City Council’s Committee on Government Operations for a hearing and next steps.