The Natural City Vision: Three Lenses to Shape the Future of Southern Vancouver Island


  Vic derman - the natural city

Vic Derman publishes a “call to action” – implement an integrated approach to urban watershed restoration!

UVIC showcasing - vic derman (120p)In his blueprint for action titled The Natural CIty, Vic Derman opens by writing that “Without doubt, Saanich and our region face a future where we must ‘do things differently’ to succeed. Past practices have produced a myriad of outcomes such as loss of open space, environmental degradation and choking congestion that are unsustainable and inconsistent with citizen’s hopes and expectations.” He then introduces three lenses to shape the future of the region:

  • The Regional Growth Strategy
  • Climate Change
  • Quality of Life and Place

Vic derman - 3 lenses (360p)Well-versed in a water-centric way-of-thinking, Vic Derman chaired the organizing committee and was the driving force behind the highly successful 2006 Water in the City Conference, held in Victoria.  He is a Director of the Capital Regional District; and is Vice-Chair of the Capital Region Water Commission. 

 “Collectively, the three lenses bring our future into focus,” writes Vic Derman. “The picture they define is one of environmental, social and economic sustainability. It portrays a new approach that cannot be accomplished with tinkering and incremental change.Instead, bold and visionary action will be needed.”

Design with Nature: Vic Derman defines a set of ten principles that provide a planning framework for The Natural City. One of these is a ‘design with nature’ way-of-thinking and acting.  “Integration with nature and minimal interference with the natural environment are at the core of The Natural City,” writes Vic Derman. “The urban area must exist harmoniously with the surrounding environment. Key systems should mimic natural processes and integrate with them to the highest degree possible.”


A Design Process to Achieve the Vision

Vic derman - why not build (360p)Vic Derman calls the project “THE NATURAL CITY” to reflect the dramatic shift in direction it demands. “Accomplishing it will not be easy but the rewards will be worth the effort,” writes Derman. “Getting even close to The Natural City would: fulfill the vision of the Regional Growth Strategy, help meet the challenge of climate change and all but guarantee our future economic success. Can we afford to do anything else?”

On October 10 at the University of Victoria, Vic Derman introduced the principles and attributes of The Natural City.He also laid out a layered design process that demonstrates how conventional approaches to urban design could be modified to meet the goals of the The Natural City.

The design process outlined by Vic Derman does not differ greatly from traditional approaches with one exception. “The usual approach is to acquire land, decide what will be placed on it, then go about making it sustainable as possible,” writes Vic Derman. “The layered approach effectively turns this upside down. Rather than being ‘fitted into the project’ after key decisions have been made, elements such as sustainability, amenity and social equity become the drivers of development outcomes.”


Links to YouTube Videos

To watch and listen to Vic Derman explain The Natural City vision to the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation audience at the University of Victoria, click on each of the following links to a set of video clips that are posted on YouTube:

For the complete story, click on this link to The Natural City and download a copy of the paper by Vic Derman.



Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series

Vic Derman rounded out the program for the third of three events that comprised Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Capital Region: The 2008 Series.


Showcasing uvic - logos

Held at the University of Victoria, the event was co-hosted by the Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. For a program overview , click on this link to download a copy of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation at the University of Victoria.

Courtenay seminar #1 - creating a legacy

 Posted October 2008