Developing Sustainable Solutions for a Liveable Greater Vancouver Region
Water Sustainability Action Plan introduced to Regional Engineers Advisory Committee
The urban regions of British Columbia are geographically constrained, requiring growth containment to maintain resource lands combined with designing new development and re-development to accommodate population growth. In Greater Vancouver, for example, this means that 75% of the next one million people will be housed in existing built-out watersheds. This presents both challenges to and opportunities for planning, building and rebuilding communities to ensure livability while protecting and restoring environmental health and well-being and ecosystem sustainability.
Design with Nature
The Green Infrastructure Partnership is encouraging implementation of a design with nature approach to community planning and land (re)development, and is placing emphasis on educating stakeholders regarding the benefits by holding information sharing sessions and by developing guides on practice. The Green Infrastructure Partnership is one of six inter-connected initiatives that comprise the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. The Green Infrastructure Partnership was formed in October 2003, and is a consortium of four organizations that share a vision of making green infrastructure practices more prevalent in communities across British Columbia.
The Green Infrastructure Parthership has demonstrated that designing with nature is both possible and cost-effective. Examples of vanguard work in British Columbia and elsewhere show that.
“Achieving higher levels of ecological systems protection and overall environmental well-being is being successfully pursued through changes to existing land use regulations, design guidelines and construction standards”, observed Paul Ham, General Manager, Engineering, City of Surrey and the Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, when making a presentation to the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC) in April 2005.
The purpose of the April 2005 presentation was to inform REAC regarding the Convening for Action process and invite REAC member municipalities to participate in a Consultation Workshop that was subsequently hosted by the City of Surrey in May 2005. This gave participants an opportunity to share their successes and discuss the challenges they faced and dealt with in achieving on the ground green infrastructure results in their communities.
According to Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan, “The workshop demonstrated how local practitioners are meeting the challenge of moving from planning to action. By bringing people together to share their experiences, it was evident that effective implementation of the design with nature can be addressed through practical changes in policies, programs, applied research, practitioner education and standards of practice for landscape (re)development, transportation and infrastructure servicing.”
The REAC Workshop outcomes are documented in the report titled The Green Infrastructure Partnership: Convening for Action in British Columbia (July 2005 Progress Report). “The discussion underscored that there is critical mass for moving forward with an interactive and proactive approach to communication of the design with nature vision; and that this can be achieved through an array of educational tools that can inform change”, added Stephens.