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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."

Celebrating Green Infastructure in the Metro Vancouver Region: In 2005, the Green Infrastructure Partnership convened a Consultation Workshop that resulted in the “Showcasing Innovation Series”

“The 2006 Showcasing Innovation Series was a provincial pilot. When we talked to practitioners in local government, it doesn't matter what the region, the message was the same…they tell us that they are too busy to communicate with their colleagues in neighbouring municipalities. Yet the irony is that there is much to learn by sharing information with each other. At the end of the day, it seems that it takes a third party to bring people together," stated Paul Ham.

FLASHBACK TO 2004: Consultation Workshop on “Model Subdivision Bylaw & Green Infrastructure Standards” was the launch event for the Green Infrastructure Partnership

"The primary purpose of the consultation was to explore the diversity of issues and difficulties inherent in defining and implementing a green infrastructure approach to land development. The consultation resulted in identification of 17 recommendations in five theme areas," reported Chuck Gale. "An over-arching theme that emerged from the discussion revolves around the need to provide the bridge between those who make the decisions and those who implement the decisions."

MIMIC THE WATER BALANCE: Flashback to 2013 – the United States can learn from British Columbia experience, concluded Paul Crabtree, leader of the US-based Rainwater in Context Initiative

“The Canadians do appear to be ahead of the US in this field because the US EPA took a really bad approach to LID that was based on the premise that enforcing every site to the same standard would somehow fix the problems of water quality in the US,” commented Paul Crabtree. “The USA EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks."

FLASHBACK TO 2004: “Judge progress by the distance traveled, not the distance remaining,” stated Kim Stephens at Consultation Workshop that was the launch event for the BC Green Infrastructure Partnership

“We have come a long way in just four years. Our experience in bringing the vision to fruition for the UniverCity Sustainable Community on Burnaby Mountain provides relevant context. It was not that long ago that the project was hanging by a thread. We have been successful in overcoming fear and doubt," stated Kim Stephens. “In 2000, translating high expectations for UniverCity into practical design guidelines meant revisiting accepted drainage engineering practice."

LEADING CHANGE IN AUSTRALIA: Can Money Really Grow On Trees? Increased Tree Canopy Boosts Sydney Property Values

The value a city derives from its urban trees is difficult to measure due to the disconnect between the beneficiaries and the direct costs borne by the councils, utilities and road authorities who manage them. “Our report found that without sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ Sydney would be hotter, more polluted and could be worth $50 billion less," stated James Rosenwax, report co-author.

ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROTOCOL: Embed ‘state-of-the-art’ hydrology in engineering ‘standard practice’ as a first step to valuing watersheds as infrastructure assets

"Use of the Water Balance family of methods and tools will help local governments bring state-of-the-art hydrology into engineering standard practice,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “Our objective is to make it easy for local governments to establish, require and implement Water Balance performance targets. The methods and tools exist. It is a matter of enhancing them to support EAP (Ecological Accounting Protocol) plus expand their use."

FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Adapting to Climate Change – An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities” reported that the impacts of changing climate were already evident in Canada and globally

"The book provides municipal decision-makers and staff with information to help them understand the need for climate change adaptation and how to put adaptation measures in place. It includes 11 case studies that illustrate how municipalities of varying sizes from across the country are taking adaptation action now," states Robert Hicks.

VIDEO: Convening for Action at the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “Restorative development is within your grasp. You know what to do. Go do it,” urged Bob Sandford in his closing reflections (March 2017)

"We cannot forget that there has been a huge investment in what we now know is an unsustainable status quo. Investment must now be shifted towards restoration that uses the forces of nature itself to help build more efficiently integrated infrastructure that as much as possible maintains itself. What a gift to the world that would be," stated Bob Sandford. “If you want to live here in perpetuity, then you need to do this. Do not forget the urgency."