District of North Vancouver’s “GEOweb Open Data portal” empowers citizens through information
Note to Reader:
The recently completed Across Canada Workshop Series on Resilient Rainwater Management showcased the case study experience of those who are leading change in BC. The program introduced audiences in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners; and to the District of North Vancouver’s GEOweb open data portal. The power of these two web-based tools in combination wowed audiences across Canada.
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you can see” – Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Funded by the Intact Insurance Foundation through the Climate Change Adaptation Project at the University of Waterloo, the Across Canada Workshop Series was conducted as a “sharing and learning” opportunity. The BC presentation team comprised Ted van der Gulik, Kim Stephens, Jim Dumont and Richard Boase (Alberta only).
Draw Attention to the Future & Focus on Action
“People learn through storytelling. At the end of every workshop, participants told us that they were inspired by our stories about the champions who are leading change and focusing their efforts on watershed outcomes in BC,” reports Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“We described how we are moving along a continuum in BC,” continues Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director. “When we explained the science behind the Water Balance Methodology, we showed that knowledge expands and becomes clearer over time. Three words define how we structured the workshop curriculum: CONTEXT, INTENT and RESULTS.”
Empowering Citizens through Information
“Understanding the context is key to interpreting results,” adds Richard Boase, Environmental Protection Officer with the District of North Vancouver. “An increasing building footprint is short-circuiting the Water Balance, and this has consequences for local governments – both in terms of financial liability and fisheries sustainability.”
“To make this concept real to our audiences, we demonstrated how pictures and images from the District’s GEOweb open data portal are being used as communication and teaching tools. With GEOweb, and through the use of historical air photos and Google Street View, we can visually look back in time to clarify where we want to go (note to reader: refer to Churchill quote above). And we can detect change over time.”
“The take-away message is that the District of North Vancouver is leveraging technology to help us make better decisions and provide better service. Using GEOweb at the front counter, District staff can visually look at a property while speaking with the owner, contractor or consultant.”
Slow, Sink and Spread Rainwater to Protect Stream Health
“GEOweb images proved quite powerful in priming audiences in four provinces for the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners,” states Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Applications Authority.
“GEOweb showed why changes in practice are urgently needed on individual residential properties to slow, sink and spread rainwater. Online demonstration of the Express then opened eyes and minds about HOW to mitigate the impacts of development on the Water Balance. We showed how to equate the Water Balance Methodology to the elements of a rain garden construction detail. This made it easy for audiences to visualize how to implement three performance targets that would result in an integrated and balanced solution that would protect stream health.”
About the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners
The WBM Express integrates and balances three watershed-specific performance targets: VOLUME for interflow storage; BASEFLOW RELEASE to sustain duration of interflow (shallow groundwater); and INFILTRATION AREA to allow for groundwater recharge.
To learn more, click on Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Stream Health to download a guidance document on how to apply the methodology to establish performance targets that link the site, watershed, stream and aquifer.