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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. "So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!," wrote Ian McHarg.

BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015: To download a copy of “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”……


Five Regional Districts representing 75% of BC’s population are partners in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). A program deliverable is the Beyond the Guidebook 2015. It is a progress report on how local governments are ‘learning by doing’ to implement affordable and effective science-based practices. It is the third in a series that builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.

Convening for Action in British Columbia


"Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to 'tell our story' and 'record our history' as a work-in-progress," states Ray Fung.

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township – ‘Design with Nature’ to Create Liveable Neighbourhoods” – Watershed Case Profile released by Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (October 2017)

The stewardship ethic for creating liveable neighbourhoods in Langley is shaped by ‘cathedral thinking’ and a shared commitment by elected representatives, staff and community to long-term implementation. "There are many staff members that have made this happen," stated Mayor Jack Froese. "Council makes policy and we approve policies. And then it is our wonderful staff that carry out the policies."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: Moving ahead on a ‘green’ platform has gained positive momentum as Council has found it easy to support green infrastructure innovation that protects groundwater supply and fisheries habitat

“The Township is a community of 113,000 of which 75% of the land area is within the Agricultural Land Reserve,” stated Councillor Charlie Fox. "This presents a delicate balance between the preservation of agricultural land and the continued pressure for urban development. It is within this context that the staff and Council champion the theme of harmony and integration as we endeavour to focus on ‘green’ initiatives and programs.”

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “A presentation many years ago by Patrick Condon put me on the path to integration. Patrick’s storytelling made me realize that everything we do has an effect somewhere else,” says Ramin Seifi, the Township’s General Manager of Engineering & Community Development

“When the previous General Manager of Engineering retired in 2011, our Chief Administrative Officer listened when I presented the case for doing both jobs - Engineering and Community Development," stated Ramin Seifi. "The Township needed more integration to respond to the demands on infrastructure and the risks to the environment resulting from rapid population growth. Achieving integration depended on the Township having a better structure."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “When we are in harmony with nature, things will go well,” stated Colin Wright, former General Manager of Engineering (2004-2011)

“As municipalities, we are the focal point. We have to show leadership on-the-ground if our society is to achieve sustainability. In Langley, we believe there is a sea-change about to happen. The community is ready for green infrastructure,” stated Colin Wright in 2007. “When people ask what do I do, my answer is that I build cities. To do that, and do it well, we have to be in harmony with nature. This also applies to our corporate philosophy.”

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Integration allows us to cascade from watershed planning down to the site,” stated Stephen Richardson, the Township’s Director of Development Services

“Integration leads to efficiencies,” stated Stephen Richardson. “The purpose in having the three groups within one section is to integrate the pieces of any development proposal. So, in terms of the three professional disciplines represented by the departments, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This synergy allows us to catch the pieces that might otherwise be missed.”

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “The Township is a living demonstration of adaptive management in action,” wrote Kim Stephens in the Watershed Case Profile released by Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (October 2017)

The phrase 'Convening for Action' means use what we have learned so that we can take action and make a difference in our professional lives to change the way we develop land. “The essence of the adaptive approach is to ‘learn by doing’ and to change direction when there is a better way," explained Kim Stephens. "The Township has done that, and has gone full circle a number of times in adapting green infrastructure innovation in successive neighbourhoods."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Site development is integrated. The components inform design,” explained Dave Cocking, Manager of the Township’s Green Infrastructure Services Department

“Our integrated process results in a better community,” stated Dave Cocking. “The infrastructure we build today is integrated. We recognize that each part is a component of the whole. We strive to make all the parts work together without compromising any component. Working together, we are solving community design issues. We have a shared goal – improve the community and provide amenities. This requires integrated thinking."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Langley is planning neighbourhoods based on catchment areas. This means managing each as a system,” stated Al Neufeld, the Township’s Manager of Parks Administration

"Creating a dedicated group within Community Development meant we could focus on innovation regarding green approaches to neighbourhood development," explained Al Neufeld. “Through the community and neighbourhood planning process, multidisciplinary teams collaborate in Neighbourhood Technical Teams to integrate the landscape architecture, planning and engineering perspectives."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “There has been an evolution in our thinking and in our approach as successive neighbourhoods have been developed,” says Yolanda Leung, the Township’s Landscape Design Coordinator int the Green Infrastructure Services Department

"Building on a history of successes, we are now implementing what the Township describes as blue links," stated Yolanda Leung. “A driver for this ongoing evolution is the incorporation of habitat compensation for the fisheries resource. We are learning by doing. In this way, we refine expectations for the finished product. The designs are more refined and the level of coordination for rain garden design and construction has improved."

CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Whole –system thinking is part of our culture,” stated Kevin Larsen, Manager of Water Resources & Environment

Asset management has traditionally been about hard engineered assets such as waterlines, sanitary and storm sewers. Kevin Larsen recognizes that watershed systems are also 'infrastructure assets'. “The Township is implementing a life-cycle approach to valuing and managing our hard engineered assets,” stated Kevin Larsen. A future next step would be to extend the life-cycle approach to include valuation of the services provided by watershed systems.