Green Infrastructure

Green communities – ‘today’s expectations are tomorrow’s standards’ is a provincial government mantra in British Columbia. Since the built and natural environments are connected, design with nature to protect watershed function. The Green Communities Initiative provides a policy, regulatory and program framework for enabling local governments to create more compact, more sustainable and greener communities. Lead by example. Showcase innovation. Celebrate successes.

Latest Posts

What is “Green Infrastructure”? – Looking back to understand the origin, meaning and use of the term in British Columbia

“Two complementary strategies can ‘green’ a community and its infrastructure: first, preserving as much as possible of the natural green infrastructure; and secondly, promoting designs that soften the footprint of development,” wrote Susan Rutherford. “Green infrastructure design is engineering design that takes a ‘design with nature’ approach, to both mitigate the potential impacts of existing and future development and growth and to provide valuable services.”

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“The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is the keeper of the GIP legacy,” observes Paul Ham, a Past-Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership

“I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success. Our efforts a decade ago moved the state of-the-art of green infrastructure to a more mainstream level,” said Paul Ham.

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OPINION PIECE: “British Columbia is one of the last places on the planet where it is still possible to transcend the climate debate and create a better world,” wrote Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair, Water Security, United Nations University (Vancouver Sun, September 2018)

“This past summer (2018), if you wanted to know what climate change will mean to your future, all you had to do was be outside to see what is to come. The entire Northern Hemisphere was impacted by extreme weather – drought, forest fires or flooding,” wrote Bob Sandford. “BC is at a moment of truth. Will BC adapt? Water defines B.C., and the rhythms of water are changing. We have the knowledge and tools to restore balance to the water cycle. Can we, will we? Most importantly, will we get it right?”

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“Sometimes the scale of change seems overwhelming. But little changes, carried out by a lot of people is a positive move in the right direction as we adapt to living on a changing world,” says Bob McDonald, host of Quirks & Quarks on CBC Radio, on commenting on a new report from the Intact Centre titled Too Small to Fail

“The biggest contributor to flooding is the fact that excess water from heavy storms has nowhere to go,” wrote Bob McDonald. “As our urban areas grow, we have covered what was once porous forest floor or plant-covered land with pavement, sidewalks, driveways and patios. One solution is to make the urban landscape more porous, so the water can sink into the ground rather than accumulate on the streets and in basements. It is a harsh reality that we need to adapt to a changing planet.”

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Kus-kus-sum Restoration on the Courtenay River on Vancouver Island: K’omoks First Nation, City of Courtenay and Project Watershed Make History for Greener Planet

“Restoring this cultural and historically significant site is a vision KFN shares with Project Watershed and the City of Courtenay. KFN’s interest in the site is largely based on its strong cultural significance,” stated Chief Councillor Nicole Remple, K’omoks First Nation. “Being stewards of the lands and waters, it is inherently our duty to restore and assist in the rehabilitation of the natural habitat of the salmon and various marine and wildlife in this area. It is our hope for the future that our skilled Guardian Watchmen participate in the restoration and maintenance of the site for our future generations.”

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REPORT ON: “Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) Demonstration Application in the Cowichan Valley” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released 2018)

Like many small creeksheds, Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) lies in more than one authority with jurisdiction. Its upland source and discharge to the Koksilah River are in Cowichan Tribes lands, including the Cowichan-Koksilah estuary, which it nourishes. There is an opportunity to interweave Indigenous knowledge and Western science in building a strong collaboration around hydrology. “Sh-hwuykwselu belongs in our lives,” stated Tim Kulchyski when he provided historical context from a Cowichan Tribes perspective.

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TOO SMALL TO FAIL: Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation reports that smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk using green infrastructure can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities (November 2018)

“Partnerships and community engagement can significantly contribute to the success of a project. There are many ways in which a partner can add value to a project, such as through providing scientific expertise or having a significant level of influence and leadership in a community,” stated Dana Decent. “Engaging local stakeholders is critical, as they are the ones who are directly impacted by floods in an area. Continual engagement of stakeholders can result in greater widespread support.”

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WORK AT MULTIPLE SCALES TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN CREEKSHEDS: “To protect watershed health, understand the watershed as a Whole System, and mimic the natural water balance,” stated Dr. Richard Horner, University of Washington (Seattle)

In the mid-1990s, the pioneer work of Dr. Richard Horner and Dr. Chris May resulted in a hydrology-based framework for protecting watershed health. The framework provided a starting point for applying science-based understanding to reinvent drainage engineering practice. “So many studies manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables,” stated Dr. Richard Horner. “We, on the other hand, investigated whole systems in place, tying together measures of the landscape, stream habitat, and aquatic life.”

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THE RESTORATION ECONOMY: “During the last two decades of the twentieth century, new development lost significant ‘market share’ to another mode: restorative development,” wrote Storm Cunningham, author & futurist (2002)

“How could we miss a story like that? More importantly, why is it happening? Primarily, it’s because we’ve now developed most of the world that can be developed without destroying some other inherent value or vital function,” wrote Storm Cunningham. “The major driver of economic growth in the 21st century will be redeveloping our nations, revitalizing our cities, and rehabilitating and expanding our ecosystems. Those leaders who become aware of this vast new frontier of opportunity, and guide their community, national, and company futures in this direction, will be the foremost leaders of the 21st century.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “A simple challenge to a municipal councillor or regional board member is: Why would you take on another unfunded liability called drainage – which is what you have been doing for a lifetime!,” stated Kim Stephens, keynote speaker at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)

“An educational goal is that those who are involved in municipal land use and drainage would understand the vision for ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’. It is an educational goal. Part of that is the paradigm-shift to recognize watersheds as infrastructure assets,” stated Kim Stephens. “The significance there is that people in local government get it, in terms of whether you use the word deficit or liability, that we don’t have the money to refinance or replace our existing core infrastructure such as water, sewer or roads.”

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Restored stream to be central feature of Ford plant site’s redevelopment in St. Paul – “This is an opportunity to envision what a 21st-century community is,” says Tom Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center

Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota opened in 1925 to build Model Ts in a state-of-the-art facility powered by a hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi River. When the last vehicle rolled off its line in 2011, it was Ford’s oldest factory. Today, all that remains is an expansive tract of bare land. But the site is poised for a dramatic rebirth into a dense mixed-use neighborhood designed to be a showpiece of energy efficiency, smart design, ecological stormwater management, and enlightened economic development.

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OPINION PIECE: “Public Sector Accounting Board must seize options to begin allowing governments to consider natural assets on the balance sheet,” says Roy Brooke (Nov 2018)

“Local government efforts to account for natural assets… run afoul of Canadian public sector accounting rules, which do not allow accountants to consider natural assets to be ‘real’ assets for financial purposes,” stated Roy Brooke. “This could — and should — change, however, as the result of an ongoing consultation led by Canada’s Public Sector Accounting Board. They develop the Handbook that guides Canada’s public sector accountants, and this consultation is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make adjustments to the concepts underlying our Canadian public sector accounting standards.”

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