Green Infrastructure explained: A common vocabulary for a new way-of-thinking in British Columbia
What is Green Infrastructure?
According to Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, “There is a plethora of ‘green’ vocabulary that we now hear on a daily basis in British Columbia. To develop a common understanding plus help advance a new way-of-thinking about land development, the Green Infrastructure Partnership is promoting use of a ‘green’ vocabulary that is intended to provide clarity around the subject of green infrastructure.”
The ‘green’ vocabulary that has been adopted by the Green Infrastructure Partnership and its network of partners (including the Water Sustainability Committee and CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island) comprises four terms; these are cascading as defined below::
- Green Value means land use strategies will accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which communities depend. At the heart of a Green Valueapproach is the valuation methodology that provides the business case for reconciliation of short-term versus long-term thinking related to risk and profit.
- Design with Nature is one approach to achieve Green Value, and is supportive of community goals that relate to building social capacity.
- Green Infrastructure is the on-the-ground application of Design with Nature standards and practices.
- Water Sustainability is achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.
This cascading vocabulary was unveiled at the Creating Our Future Workshop that was held in conjunction with the Gaining Ground Summit in Victoria in June 2007. The Creating Our Future Workshop was a consultation opportunity for Vancouver Island local governments that are interested in implementing infrastructure practices and regulation that result in green value.
Green Infrastructure Explained
Green infrastructure is associated with the management of water that runs off the land and how water runoff impacts on the sustainability of both terrestrial and aquatic habitat and resources.
Green infrastructure is also associated with how water is used and how water use impacts on the sustainability of water supply.
“Desired outcomes for water sustainability and green infrastructure can be achieved through infrastructure standards that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water”, explains Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan of British Columbia.
Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia
The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, and the Action Plan elements are being delivered through partnerships, one of which is the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The Action Plan provides a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning and development. .
The mission of the Green Infrastructure Partnership is to provide leadership and encourage others to implement ‘design with nature’ design practices and regulation province-wide. Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will need clearly defined standards.