“Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series on Vancouver Island” features community-scale projects
Note to Reader:
The meet-and-greet for each event in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series starts at 8:30am. Each event concludes at 2:30pm after a walkabout. To download a program overview and synopsis of each event in the series, please click here.
Doing Business Differently
The genesis for the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series on Vancouver Island was a 2005 consultation workshop organized by the Green Infrastructure Partnership. This resulted in the 2007 Showcasing Innovation program, with parallel series held on both sides of the Georgia Basin.
The 2007 Vancouver Island Series was held north of the Malahat under the umbrella of Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI). The Series was hosted by three regional districts, namely: Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Comox-Strathcona.
While the 2007 Series was mainly about networking and relationship-building, the 2008 Showcasing Innovation Series in the Capital Region is about raising the bar and establishing expectations to truly achieve Design with Nature outcomes at a community scale.
The 2008 Series features projects that demonstrate what is meant by The New Business As Usual, and set provincial benchmarks for others to measure themselves against.
Bridging Engineering and Planning
According to Dale Wall, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Community Development (and a member of the Green Infrastructure Partnership Steering Committee), “The vision is that the Showcasing Innovation Series can play an integrating role to cut across disciplines and ultimately serve as a catalyst to create neighbourhoods that integrate both good planning and innovative engineering designs, for overall greater sustainability….environmental, social and economic.”
“The strength of the Green Infrastructure Partnership lies in its engineering infrastructure foundation, with the Showcasing Innovation Series proving powerful in getting the images right and seeing them on the ground,” continues Dale Wall. “It is when we deal with engineering and planning issues together…telling the whole story of how to overcome BOTH engineering and planning hurdles…that we cut across other disciplines.”
From Exception to Norm
“We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models and develop models of practice and expertise to support The New Business As Usual”, stated Dale Wall at the Gaining Ground Leadership Summit in May 2008.
To Learn More:
To view a 5-minute video of the Deputy Minister making an announcement related to The New Business As Usual, please click here.
Design with Nature Outcomes
“In embracing a ‘design with nature’ philosophy, we have borrowed from Ian McHarg and the title of his 1969 book,” explains Kim Stephens, series organizer and Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, “Furthermore, we have developed a definition of Design with Nature that is consistent with what McHarg intended in terms of ecological planning and letting the landscape inform development, yet goes beyond McHarg in terms of synthesizing Smart Growth principles with an infrastructure way-of-thinking.”
The mind map for a Design with Nature strategy is presented below, and comprises six elements:
Climate Change Adaptation
“The focus of the 2007 Series was on the last three bullets in the Design with Nature mind map because the showcasing emphasis was on rainwater management at the site scale,” continues Kim Stephens. “In 2008, the focus is on the first three bullets because we are placing the emphasis on land use planning at a community scale, with the objective of achieving a transformation of the built environment.”
“Furthermore, the Design with Nature paradigm captures the essence of climate change adaptation,” concludes Kim Stephens. ”If mitigation is about CARBON, says, Jim Mattison (Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment), then adaptation is about WATER. Adaptation is responding to the changes that will inevitably occur. Adaptation is at the community level and is therefore about collaboration. Our operating premise is that if we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow.”
Integration and Innovation:
The Town of View Royal, City of Langford and University of Victoria are showcasing community-scale initiatives and/or projects that achieve all six elements of a Design with Nature strategy. In terms of a desired outcome, a unifying theme for the three events is ‘a liveable community that is in harmony with nature’. The desired outcome is being achieved through the combination of integration and innovation:
- Town of View Royal – The Transportation Master Plan provides the backdrop for an holistic, ecosystem approach that integrates transportation, drainage and water quality objectives; and looks for opportunities and synergies to do business differently. To access links to a comprehensive set of web stories, click on Town of View Royal implements ecosystem-based plan for enhancement of old Island Highway.
- City of Langford – The LEED-ND (Neighbourhood Development) designation is a catalyst for creating socially supportive, healthy neighbourhoods and promoting urban design excellence throughout the public realm in the Westhills Green Community. To learn more, click on this link to Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the City of Langford: Transforming the Community.
- University of Victoria – Through leadership, partnerships, and collaboration, UVic has been able to transition from an incremental approach in planning and resource management to a much more holistic and integrated approach. To learn more, click on this link to Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation: Towards a New Infrastructure – Integrated and Water-Centric Planning at the University of Victoria and Beyond.
“Practitioners are passionate about their individual slices; but it is the rare individual who is passionate about integration,” observes Dale Wall. “This reality creates its own set of challenges when promoting changes in policies, practices and standards relating to infrastructure and the Built Environment.”
Origin of the Showcasing Innovation Series
Population growth and resulting cumulative impacts have been drivers for reassessing how land is developed and water is used. At a 2005 Consultation Workshop hosted by the City of Surrey, municipalities told the Green Infrastructure Partnership that they want to hear firsthand from those who are implementing green infrastructure, and they want to see what it looks like on the ground.
In response to this need, and to promote a new way-of-thinking related to infrastructure policies and practices, the Green Infrastructure Partnership initiated the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series. The goal of the program is to build local government capacity by facilitating province-wide networking and sharing of lessons learned. The 2006 pilot program was held in Metro Vancouver. In 2007 parallel series were held on both sides of the Georgia Basin on alternating Fridays during the September/October period.
A Unique Forum
“The Showcasing Innovation Series creates pride and enables local governments to tell their stories in a way that no other forum currently provides,” observes Raymond Fung (A/Director of Engineering & Transportation, District of West Vancouver), Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. “A Showcasing Innovation event is not a conference. Neither is it a workshop nor seminar in the conventional sense. Rather the purpose of the presentations is to whet the appetites of participants for the site tour that follows. The quality one-on-one conversations take place on the bus and when we go for a walkabout.”