Langley Township hosts second in “2007 Showcasing Innovation Series”
The event theme for Celebrating Green Infrastructure is “Harmony and Integration”
The Green Infrastructure Partnership has announced that the Township of Langley will host the second in a series of three events that comprise Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in Greater Vancouver: The 2007 Series. The Langley event will be on Friday, October 5.
Experience shows that intra-region communication among local government practitioners is the exception rather than the rule.
According to Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership (and General Manager, Engineering, City of Surrey), “At the 2005 consultation workshop hosted by the City of Surrey, Greater Vancouver municipalities told us that they wanted to hear firsthand from those who are implementing green infrastructure, and they want to see what it looks like.”
“In response to this need, 2006 was the first year of the Showcasing Innovation Series”, continues Paul Ham, “In Year Two of the program, our aim is to continue promoting region-wide networking and sharing of lessons learned.”
Each event in the Showcasing Innovation Series comprises presentations in the morning and a tour of project sites in the afternoon. The program has now spread to Vancouver Island. Every Friday during the period September 14 through October 19, there will be alternating events in Greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.
For program and registration details, please click on this link to download Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township. Attendance will be capped based on bus capacity.
Scope of Langley Program
According to Colin Wright, General Manager of Engineering, “On October 5, the Township of Langley will showcase what can be accomplished with large-scale projects when Council, the community and staff are in alignment and embrace a ‘green culture’. Resource protection – for groundwater supply and fisheries habitat – is the driver for implementing green infrastructure in Langley.”
Langley has also recently embarked on developing a Sustainability Charter. According to Ramin Seifi, Acting Director of Community Development, “The Charter is intended to be a high-level policy document that helps guide the Township toward sustainability on the ground. A big part of developing the document will be engaging the community.”
“The Langley Showcasing focus will be on three new neighbourhood communities that illustrate how a ‘water-centric’ approach is changing the way that land is developed”, explains Brad Badelt, Manager of Water Resources and Environment, “Each development has built on the experience of the last in raising the bar for the next.”
Featured projects will be the Routley, Yorkson and Northeast Gordon Estates neighbourhoods. Routley is defined by a multi-purpose greenway and shallow infiltration systems on individual residential properties. Yorkson has a ‘third-pipe system’ for roof drainage that connects to a sand filtration treatment system and deep-well injection for aquifer recharge. Northeast Gordon Estates is distinguished by its ‘green streets’. All three projects have been made possible by Langley’s comprehensive groundwater mapping work.
The morning part of Showcasing Innovation in Langley Township will be held in the new Civic Centre, a LEED silver building. Ultra low-flow dual-flush toilets, automated faucets, and waterless urinals help reduce the Facility’s potable water consumption by more than 30 per cent. A GeoExchange system, which relies on the earth’s natural thermal energy, is used for 75 per cent of the building’s heating and cooling needs.
The site tour in the afternoon will feature green infrastructure in the Routley and Yorkson neighbourhoods, plus the Souter sediment pond and North Creek restoration. According to Brad Badelt, “The Souter pond and North Creek restoration are great examples of how agricultural drainage can be improved in a way that meets the needs of land owners while actually improving fish habitat.”
Showcasing Innovation Builds Green Infrastructure Capacity
The purpose of the Showcasing Innovation Series is to celebrate… and build on…the on-the-ground successes that are enhancing the ways communities are being developed and water is being managed.
“When we talk to practitioners in local government, it doesn’t matter what the region, the message is the same”, observes Paul Ham, “They tell us that they are too busy to communicate with their colleagues in neighbouring municipalities. At the end of the day, it seems that it takes a third party to bring people together.”
The goal of the Showcasing Innovation Series is to build regional capacity so that local governments will move ‘from awareness to action’ — through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of designing with nature, according to Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
The Action Plan is the umbrella for the Showcasing Innovation Series. “It is exciting to see how host local governments are responding. We believe their enthusiasm is the result of the program enabling local governments to tell their stories in a way that no other forum provides”, reports Kim Stephens. He will be the Moderator for the morning session.
Climate Change Adaptation: Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In 2006, the Township adopted a Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, making it one of the first municipalities in the Lower Mainland to do so.
According to Ryan Schmidt, Environmental Coordinator, ”The plan sets an aggressive target for reducing greenhouse gases over the next several years. Initiatives include the recently-certified LEED-silver Civic Facility, involvement in the E3 fleet certification program and an anti-idling campaign.”
With the adoption of the plan, Langley is recommending that all future civic buildings be constructed to meet LEED standards. The Township will also be expanding its environmentally-friendly fleet initiatives by exploring alternative technologies such as Smart Cars and hybrid vehicles, as well as right-sizing its fleet. As well, the Township is pursuing alternative energy sources for its recreation centres, including utilizing solar panels and geothermal heating to control the temperature of its pools.
In January 2001, the Township of Langley joined the Fedaration of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection Program. The program is a national program that helps Canadian municipalities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality of life in their communities. Through joining the program, the Township has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a corporation, and as a community.
Protecting Langley’s Groundwater
The Township relies on groundwater for almost half of its drinking water supply, making it unique amongst the major Metro Vancouver municipalities. The only other municipality in the region that relies on groundwater is the City of White Rock.
Water Resource Management Strategy
“This reliance has made groundwater sustainability a top priority”, reports Antigone Dixon-Warren, Groundwater Specialist. “Recent initiatives include the Water Resource Management Strategy, a Township-wide groundwater model, and a Water Management Plan which is currently being done in collaboration with the Province.” As the Township aims to be a leader in water conservation, it is also currently developing a Water Demand Management Strategy to reduce municipal water use.
The Water Resource Management Strategy, completed in 2002, is a 20-year plan for managing surface and groundwater in the Township. Three main goals identified for the strategy were:
- Provide a clean and sustainable supply of groundwater and surface water for residential, agricultural, and industrial use.
- Conserve and enhance water quality and quantity for aquatic habitat and recreational use.
- Minimize flooding and erosion
Water Management Plan
The Water Management Plan was done through an extensive public consultation process and has led to a number of initiatives over the past several years, most notably a comprehensive groundwater model and a Water Wise door-to-door outreach program. The water management plan currently underway with the Province is intended to provide legislative tools for managing the extraction of groundwater throughout the municipality. The Water Demand Management Strategy will aim to further protect groundwater supplies as demands for municipal water supplies will be reduced.
Integrated Rainwater/Stormwater Management: Green Innovation
Brad Badelt and Yolanda Leung will elaborate on three new neighbourhood communities that illustrate how a ‘water-centric’ approach is changing the way land is developed in Langley.
According to Brad Badelt, “Each neighbourhood features a different green innovation: first, it was multi-purpose greenways and shallow infiltration systems on individual residential properties; then a ‘third-pipe system’ for roof drainage that connects to a sand filtration treatment system and deep-well injection for aquifer recharge; and most recently, green streets.”
A common thread in developing the rainwater management strategies and implementation plans for the three neighbourhoods has been Jim Dumont. He is the engineer of record for each innovation that is helping to advance green infrastructure practice.
“These plans demonstrate not only integration between surface and groundwater to protect water supply, but also between engineering and parks to enhance liveability and community benefit”, adds Yolanda Yeung, Landscape Design Coordinator.
Each of the neighbourhoods has benefited from the Township’s increasing understanding of local groundwater conditions. The Yorkson neighbourhood, for example, is known to be underlain by a thick impermeable clay layer that would make shallow infiltration systems ineffective. As such, deeper infiltration wells were designed and the potential impacts were considered using the Township’s groundwater model. Similarly, Routley and Northeast Gordon Estates have been designed according to the local soil and groundwater conditions to maximize infiltration.
From Awareness to Action: Langley Environmental Partners Society
The Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS), a non-profit group focused on environmental enhancement through partnerships, has had a close working relationship with the Township for over a decade. This partnership has led to many successful outreach and awareness programs such as WaterWise, the Private Well Network, and Water Weeks.
According to Lonnie Prouse, Executive Director of LEPS, “These educational programs are critical for maintaining public support and encouraging public participation in Langley’s sustainability initiatives”.
One of the most significant initiatives undertaken between the Township and LEPS has been the completion of a watercourse classification map, which include over 1400 kilometres of watercourses. The map has proved invaluable for neighbourhood planning, coordination of construction project and determining building setbacks, and is seen as a model by many municipalities in the Lower Mainland.
With the Township’s expanding water conservation programs, including the development of a low-flow toilet rebate program, the partnership with LEPS will undoubtedly grow stronger in the coming years.
What is Green Infrastructure?
There is a plethora of ‘green’ vocabulary that we now hear on a daily basis. To develop a common understanding plus help advance a new way-of-thinking about land development, the Green Infrastructure Partnership is promoting use of the following hierarchy of ‘green’ vocabulary:
- Green Value means land use strategies will accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which communities depend. At the heart of a Green Valueapproach is the valuation methodology that provides the business case for reconciliation of short-term versus long-term thinking related to risk and profit.
- Design with Nature is one approach to achieve Green Value, and is supportive of community goals that relate to building social capacity.
- Green Infrastructure is the on-the-ground application of Design with Naturestandards and practices.
- Water Sustainability is achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.
This cascading vocabulary was unveiled at the Creating Our Future Workshop that was held in conjunction with the Gaining Ground Summit in Victoria in June 2007. The Creating Our Future Workshop was a consultation opportunity for Vancouver Island local governments that are interested in implementing infrastructure practices and regulation that result in green value.
Green Infrastructure Explained
Green infrastructure is associated with the management of water that runs off the land and how water runoff impacts on the sustainability of both terrestrial and aquatic habitat and resources.
Green infrastructure is also associated with how water is used and how water use impacts on the sustainability of water supply.
“Desired outcomes for water sustainability and green infrastructure can be achieved through infrastructure standards that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water”, explains Kim Stephens.
Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia
The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, and the Action Plan elements are being delivered through partnerships, one of which is the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The Action Plan provides a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning and development. .
The mission of the Green Infrastructure Partnership is to provide leadership and encourage others to implement ‘design with nature’ design practices and regulation province-wide. Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will need clearly defined standards.
Posted September 2007