Learning Lunch Seminar Series” promotes consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure
Desired Outcome is Liveable Communities in Balance with Ecology
Vancouver Island is the pilot region for implementing Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual through a precedent-setting approach to continuing education for local government practitioners, namely the Learning Lunch Seminar Series. This provincial initiative builds on the foundation provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, published in 2002, and incorporates lessons learned over the past six years.
The Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that has resulted in British Columbia being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment. After six years, however, one of the lessons learned is the need for a program that will ensure province-wide consistency in understanding of approaches and desired outcomes. Hence, a premise underpinning the Learning Lunch Seminar Series is that this consistency is best achieved by taking a continuing education program into the places where local government practitioners work.
Vancouver Island Pilot Program
The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay are the host local governments for Learning Lunch Seminar Series in the Spring and Fall of 2008, respectively. In total, the Vancouver Island local governments that will be participating represent some 250,000 people. Based on the Guidebook, the Series is the first step in building a regional team approach so that there will be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure.
About the Curriculum
According to Kate Miller, Environmental Manager for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, “Each series comprises three sessions that provide an inter-departmental learning opportunity for collaborative exploration. Each series is conducted as a cumulative process, from philosophy to tools.”
“By spreading the curriculum over three sessions, this enables participants to take in new information, reflect on it, blend it with their own experience, test it, and eventually apply it in making decisions,” reports Kim Stephens, team leader and Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
The duration of each session in the Learning Lunch Seminar Series is 11:00am through 2:30pm. The theme and scope of each session are summarized below:
- Today’s Expectations are Tomorrow’s Standards:Session #1 traces the evolution of rainwater/stormwater management policies and practices over the past decade. This provides a frame-of-reference and a common understanding for subsequent sessions.
- Legal and Policy Strategies to Support Green Infrastructure: Session #2 introduces the extensive and very specific tools available under the Local Government Act so that they can proactively manage the complete spectrum of rainfall events: from light showers to heavy rain to extreme storms.
- Establishing Watershed Performance Targets: Session #3 introduces a performance target approach to land development that makes sense, meets multiple objectives, is affordable, and results in net environmental benefits at a watershed scale.
For more detailed information on the series design, click on the following link to download a copy of the Program Outline for Learning Lunch Seminar Series.
Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual
Beyond the Guidebook advances a performance target methodology for correlating green infrastructure effectiveness in protecting stream health.
To support Beyond the Guidebook, the Province has funded integration of the web-based Water Balance Model with a hydrologic engine known as QUALHYMO. The “new Water Balance Model” is unique, bridges engineering and planning, links the site to the stream and watershed, and enables local governments to establish watershed targets.
“The original Water Balance Model was developed in 2003 as an extension of the Guidebook. It underpins a water-centric approach to climate change adaptation,” reports Ted van der Gulik (Ministry of Agriculture & Lands), Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model.
“We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models and develop models of practice and expertise to support The New Business As Usual”, stated Dale Wall, Deputy Minister (Community Services) when he announced the change-over to the new Water Balance Model at the Gaining Ground Sustainable Development Leadership Summit.
CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island
The pilot Learning Lunch Seminar Series is being implemented under the umbrella of CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. CAVI is co-funded by the Real Estate Foundation, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Community Services. The shared vision is to move toward water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices.
“CAVI is an innovative and precedent-setting approach to partnerships and collaboration,” said CAVI Chair John Finnie, General Manager Environmental Services with the Regional District of Nanaimo. “CAVI is bringing together those who plan and regulate land use (local government), those who build (developers) and those who provide the legislative framework (the Province).”
“The Learning Lunch Seminar Series will build capacity to apply the new Water Balance Model, and it will help make the transition to The New Business As Usual,” added CAVI Chair John Finnie.
Settlement in Balance with Ecology
“The understanding gained will enable practitioners to make informed land development decisions that meet multiple objectives, and result in Green Value,” noted Real Estate Foundation Chair Jack Hall. “The Foundation encourages local and regional governments to implement policies and practices that accommodate settlement growth and change without irrevocable damage to the ecology that underlies the well being of Island communities.”
“The new Water Balance Model, Beyond the Guidebook, and CAVI together demonstrate what can be achieved through partnerships and collaboration; and illustrate how the green infrastructure mandate in the Throne Speech is being implemented on-the-ground,” concluded Ted van der Gulik.