In May 2010, the Metro Vancouver Board took a giant step forward when it adopted the Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan, completed in November 2009.
Two years in the making, the Plan establishes the framework for moving beyond regulatory compliance to transitioning Metro Vancouver to an approach where management of liquid discharges and rainwater resources is planned and implemented within a broader, sustainability framework.
The strategy for managing liquid discharges and rainwater as resources has two tracks: End-of-Pipe and At-the-Source.
The focus of the Board on May 21 was solely on the END-OF-PIPE part of the Plan. The central issue has been the timeline for replacing the Lions Gate and Iona Island treatment plants, and the desire versus reality of constructing both within 10 years.
The plan adopted by the Board commits the region to completing Lions Gate by 2020, and Iona Island as soon as possible after 2020.
Advisory Role of Reference Panel
Appointed by the Board in April 2008, the advisory Liquid Waste Management Plan Reference Panel has played a key role in informing and educating members of the Board through interaction with two regional committees.
Inform and Educate
“The Reference Panel met five times with the Waste Management Committee over a 16-month period from July 2008 through November 2009; and then twice with the Finance Committee in 2010,” reports Kim Stephens, Chair.
“When we started, we were in the same boat as the politicians. We had to absorb an overwhelming amount of information generated by Metro Vancouver staff and others; and then we had to synthesize and present all that information in a way that was understandable to all. Because we are volunteers, we were not constrained in terms of what we could say and how we would say it.”
“Because we have been immersed in the Plan development process since mid-2008, the members of the advisory Reference Panel are excited by the Board’s decision on May 21 to adopt the Plan. Afterwards, we informed Board members that we are honoured to have served as their volunteer advisory body on ‘liquid discharges and rainwater resources’ for these past two-plus years. We also advised the Board that we stand ready, willing and available to do what may be asked of us in the months leading up to Plan approval by the Minister of Environment.”
“It is great that the treatment plant timelines issue has finally been resolved as a result of the Board making a decision on May 21. From the beginning of our involvement in the consultation process, however, the Reference Panel has placed equal importance on what happens ON THE LAND, AT THE SOURCE. Connecting people to the land is essential if the region is to truly achieve the Sustainable Region Vision,” concludes Kim Stephens.
Recognition by Board Members
“Think about it – the Reference Panel has influenced the waste committee, the finance committee and the way we make decisions overall. It is great,” reflected West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones.
The Working Group approach which has been successfully implemented in her municipality provided the model for the Reference Panel. When the Reference Panel was first appointed, Mayor Goldsmith-Jones observed that “the essence of the West Vancouver experience is that the community benefits when there is collaboration and a true partnership between local government staff and community members in a working group”.
Her views were echoed by another Board member, Councilor Andrea Reimer of the City of Vancouver, when she stated that: “We appreciate the Reference Panel leadership on this. It’s been a long road to get a plan, and majority support to have both plants on a timeline closer to 2020 and would have been impossible without the work of the Reference Panel.”
To Learn More:
To read the complete story about the Board decision, click on Metro Vancouver Board adopts precedent-setting Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan