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

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"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."

“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

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“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.

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The latest milestones in the ‘green infrastructure’ journey focus on the services provided by nature,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

“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," stated Kim Stephens. "Post-2015, there are two initiatives in play. One is the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. The other is the Ecological Accounting Protocol Initiative. They have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. It is important to establish precedents. We learn from precedents."

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The engineer cannot tell you what value a natural asset has, nor how important its function is, nor how to maintain that function,” stated Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority, Partnership for Water Sustainability

“We have been working on an ecological accounting protocol approach that recognizes the importance of the stream in its natural state. It is not a thing that carries stormwater,” stated Jim Dumont. “We asked the question – how can we superimpose a drainage function while maintaining that natural function? This is a different way of thinking from saying that we have a drainage system in which we want to have some natural features. "

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” stated Michelle Molnar, environmental economist, speaking for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)

“There has been a lot of work done over the last couple of decade to start to incorporate nature and nature’s services in economics. And the work that we are doing in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is helping to move this along.," stated Michelle Molnar. “We are working to test how nature can substitute, how it can safeguard, and how it can complement existing engineered infrastructure systems. "

DESIGN WITH NATURE: Top Ten Cities in USA are Integrating Nature & Technology – a new report (2017) by Anil Ahuja, Smart Cities Guru

Smart Cities Guru founder Anil Ahuja has compiled a list of the top U.S. cities — from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles — that have found a way to combine technology and nature. "The challenge is to raise the bar for designing net zero living while enjoying and protecting the natural world. Water, Energy, Health, Equity and Beauty can all be protected and integrated through constructive implementation of technology," wrote Anil Ahuja.

FLASHBACK TO 2012: “In practical terms, we have packaged useful estimates of what the future will bring,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney when explaining the addition of the Climate Change Module in the Water Balance Model for British Columbia

“The Climate Change Module enables a wide range of stakeholders to make decisions based on a detailed assessment of climate change effects on local drainage, without having to decode the huge body of confusing and contradictory literature. Delivering this capability quickly and easily on the web is a ‘must’ – and this result is a ‘first’,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney. “This starting point will continue to evolve, but the leap in capability that this represents cannot be understated."

GREEN SPACE & HUMAN HEALTH: “Studies show that there is a definite link between mental health and living proximity to parks,” wrote Brian Strahan, mental health activist

In his article, Brian Strahan poses these questions: "What has a crystalline, winding, stream, got to do, with gaining clarity of mind? And what have the sawtooth edges, and linear veins on the leaves of an Alder tree, got to do got to do with someone’s capacity to adhere to societal norms and mores? How much vision is there on the long-term effects of living with more concrete and less space? We need to invest more in urban nature. It will improve mental health."

FLASHBACK TO 2007: Township of Langley Showcased Green Infrastructure Innovation in Three New Neighbourhoods

The goal in showcasing innovation and celebrating successes was to promote networking, build regional capacity, and move ‘from awareness to action’ – through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned. “After many years of what you would call research, we are now in the developmental phase,” stated Ramin Seifi in 2007 at the Langley event. "We will be monitoring and measuring what matters. This will enable residents and Council to maintain their focus over time.”

VIDEO: “Thinking Like a Watershed: Eco-Assets Explained” – benefits, challenges and ingredients for a successful program (March 2017)

The Comox Valley Conservation Partnership organized an Eco-Asset Symposium in March 2017. “The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values,” stated David Stapley. “With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices.”

DESIGN WITH NATURE: “It’s time we recognized the importance of intact nature and built green infrastructure as central to flood-prevention efforts,” wrote David Suzuki

"Floods have become one of the most visible signs of the effects of climate change in cities, towns and rural areas throughout Canada," stated David Suzuki. "The Insurance Bureau of Canada found one in five Canadians faces some level of flood risk, and 1.8 million households are at very high risk. Climate change–related events — including floods, drought and fires — are a drain on personal finances and the economy."

GET IT RIGHT AT THE FRONT-END, OTHERWISE: “We end up paying far more to fix a problem further down the road when the absolute need to address it leaves no other option,” wrote Rick Baumann, South Carolina newspaper guest columnist

“The science of stormwater management is catching up with the development that has occurred. That is the problem. We are playing catchup – and application of the science is lagging far behind long established established knowledge," wrote Rick Baumann in a guest column. "As early as the 1940’s – when state poet laureate Archibald Rutledge published his classic book 'Home by the River', stormwater had been reeking havoc for quite some time."