Note to Reader:
In March 2017, the 22 environmental and ratepayer groups comprising the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership hosted a symposium to explore ‘design with nature’ solutions.The symposium spotlight was on the potentially powerful and cost-effective role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy.
A tag-team presentation by Kim Stephens, Michelle Molnar and Jim Dumont set the scene for three concurrent workshops that followed. Kim Stephens introduced two ‘eco-asset initiatives’ that have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. Jim Dumont and Michelle Molnar then elaborated.
Green Infrastructure Journey
“It is important to recognize that we are all on a journey, and this journey did not just start yesterday. This journey has a 20 year history. If you look back, we are doing a lot better and we have made progress. If you look ahead, however, we still have a long way to go. But the trend-line is good,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.
“Notable milestones in British Columbia start with the East Clayton Sustainable Community in the City of Surrey in 1998. That got things going. It made a difference. And it led to other initiatives. It was the scale of those initiatives that allowed us to change the way people thought about and looked at drainage differently.”
“There has been a series of milestones over the past 20 years. Post-2015, the latest milestones in the ‘green infrastructure’ journey focus on the services provided by nature,” continued Kim Stephens.
“There are two initiatives in play. One is the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. Inspired by the work that Emanuel Machado is doing at the Town of Gibsons, the initiative is sponsoring projects to illustrate strategies to value natural assets and influence policy.
“The other initiative, known as the Ecological Accounting Protocol, is led by the Partnership for Water Sustainability. This is a tool that will help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of drainage infrastructure. That is a key phrase – opportunity cost. It really means making decisions differently.
“The two initiatives have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. It is important to establish precedents. And that is what the Town of Gibsons has achieved with the accountants agreeing to reference the value of eco-assets in the Town’s Annual Financial Statement.”
Sustainable Watershed systems, through asset Management:
“There can be many precedents. There is no one size fits all. That is the key to the made in BC approach. We learn from these precedents,” emphasized Kim Stephens.
“The significance of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is that it is getting communities to think about eco-assets at the policy level. That is a fundamental start. Once you have the policies in place, then you can begin to work with the players in the trenches to measure what matters. The primary target audience comprise the policy makers.
“The primary audience for the Ecological Accounting Protocol are the practitioners, whether they be in local government, businesses or non-profits. The purpose is to demonstrate how to move towards Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.”
To Learn More:
Download Valuing Ecological Assets to view the complete storyline for the tag-team presentation by Kim Stephens, Michelle Molnar and Jim Dumont.
Download the Agenda and Presenters List for the 2017 Eco-Asset Symposium.
Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management, third in a series of guidance documents released over the past decade. The series builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002.
Watch the YouTube video to hear Kim Stephens speak to the topic.