PENTICTON FORUM STORY #1: Smart Planning & Living Water Smart: Approaches and Tools for Doing Business Differently in BC
Note to Reader:
The Penticton Forum will be held at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre as an adjunct to the 2009 Annual Conference of the BC Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) on April 29.
- The meet-and-greet is at 8:00am. The morning session commences at 8:30am; the afternoon session ends at 4:15pm. Lunch will be provided.
- For a preview of the Agenda, click on Lesson Plan – Draft Outline of What We Want to Achieve.
- To download a report-style, PDF version of the following web story about the Penticton Forum, click on Smart Planning and Living Water Smart: Penticton Forum showcases partnerships on April 29, 2009
- This is the first in a series of weekly stories that progressively connect the dots and foreshadow what participants can expect on April 29.
- The Forum will be of educational value to elected representatives. It is especially relevant to municipal administrators, municipal engineers, and municipal planners; water resource and land use planners; and water conservation, green infrastructure and drainage practitioners. The Forum will also be of value to those in the conservation and stewardship sector.
For information on how to register, go to www.bcwwa.org or contact the BCWWA ofice at 604-433- 4389.
Convening for Action in BC
How do we align our efforts at three scales – provincial, regional and local – to do business differently, prepare communities for change, and choose to be water smart?
Think and Act Like a Region
The foregoing challenge statement provides context for advancing a ‘regional team approach’ at the 2009 Annual Conference of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) on April 29, 2009 in Penticton. The conference theme is:
The Water Sustainability Committee of the BCWWA, three provincial Ministries (Environment, Community Development, and Agriculture & Lands), and the Okanagan Basin Water Board are hosting a forum to showcase how partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration are helping local governments in three regions make the best choices for sustainable, healthy and vibrant communities.
The ‘Penticton Forum’ is titled Smart Planning & Living Water Smart: Approaches and Tools for Doing Business Differently in BC. This choice of title reflects and integrates current provincial initiatives.
1. Forum Program – An Overview
“The Province’s Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives provide a framework and direction for convening for action in the Okanagan, on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver,” states Glen Brown. He is an Executive Director with the Ministry of Community Development; and is Chair of the Water Sustainability Committee. “Each regional initiative is developing a vision and road map for achieving settlement in balance with ecology.”
“The forum program is organized as four modules, and is built around two themes that are intertwined, namely: ‘creating our future’ and ‘doing business differently’. While each module is stand-alone, they are linked. First, we will define the challenge. Then we will tell the stories of what is already taking place on-the-ground in the Okanagan and Georgia basins. We will conclude by presenting a blueprint for action.”
2. Creating Our Future: What Do Want British Columbia to Look Like?
Module A is the story of the provincial policy framework that is now in place; and how this framework both enables and facilitates ‘doing business differently’ to create a lasting legacy province-wide. Doing business differently means ‘making green choices’ and ‘living water smart’ in order to change the way land is developed and water is used. The two go hand-in-hand.
Creating a lasting legacy means bringing together those who plan and regulate (local government), those who build (developers), those who provide the legislative framework (the Province), those who do research (universities and colleges), and those who advocate conservation of resources (the stewardship sector).
Living Water Smart
“By living water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced,” states Lynn Kriwoken, Director, Innovation and Planning in the Water Stewardship Division of the Ministry of Environment, and the Province’s lead person for delivery of Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan.
Making Green Choices
“A key message in Living Water Smart is that green development makes sense,” emphasizes Lynn Kriwoken. “New thinking about development leads to new benefits. These include more green spaces, more water and fish in the streams, improved community vitality, reduced demand for water, and reduced expenditure on infrastructure.”
Patrick Condon of the University of British Columbia is a recognized North American pioneer in applying sustainability principles to achieve smarter and cheaper urban design. On April 29, he will be provocative in issuing a challenge to act now while there is still time. A decade ago he captured attention with this analogy: the site is to the health of a region what the cell is to the health of the human body.
“This analogy establishes context for explaining the Province’s position that ‘today’s expectations are tomorrow’s standards’, and how we are leveraging infrastructure funding to encourage changes in behaviour,” states Glen Brown.
“The Ministry of Community Development has an increasing role in ensuring that local governments are advancing and changing the ways they plan and design their communities for the better,” adds Karen Rothe, the Ministry’s Manager for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Growth Strategies. “We are slowly raising the bar for local government; and we are recognizing the efforts of local governments in achieving design with nature outcomes.”
3. Doing Business Differently: Convening for Action in the Okanagan
Module B is the story of steady progress over time to transform the way water is viewed and managed in the Okanagan.
“The 1974 Okanagan Basin Study marks the start of a multi-decade process that ultimately resulted in the Okanagan Sustainable Water Strategy (completed in 2008) and the ongoing Okanagan Water Supply and Demand Project (initiated in 2005). These efforts, grounded in action, connect the dots between urban, agricultural, and environmental water needs,” states Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.
Tools to Facilitate Conservation
In the intervening period, the 1987 drought was the catalyst for undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the potential for domestic and irrigation water conservation in the Okanagan. Released in 1990, the Okanagan Demand-Side Management Study received international recognition; and was the genesis for a sustained commitment by the BC Ministry of Agriculture that has culminated in the recent development of cutting-edge web tools that facilitate efficient irrigation water use.
“Over 85% of the total water supplied to the agricultural and urban sectors in the Okanagan is used for outdoor purposes. This factor has been the driver for development of the Irrigation Water Demand Model and Irrigation Scheduling Calculator. These online tools are designed to tell a compelling story that will influence behaviour at the individual property level, and hence eliminate wasteful water use,” explains Ted van der Gulik, Senior Engineer with the Ministry of Agricultural & Lands, and Chair of the Water Balance Model Inter-Governmental Partnership.
4. Doing Business Differently: Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin
Module C is the story of a Vancouver Island pilot program that is in the process of being adapted to the Metro Vancouver region.
Learning Lunch Seminar Series
“Drawing on the experience of engineering and planning managers in local governments, the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Series employed provincial guidance documents, on-the-ground examples, walkabouts, and town hall sharing sessions to stimulate discussion of HOW to achieve water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices,” reports Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia and seminar team leader.
“Our immediate objective is to foster ‘green choices’ that will ripple through time, and will be cumulative in creating liveable communities and protecting stream health. We are NOT saying that every community must follow the same formula; what we are saying is that everyone needs to agree on universal values and thereafter each community can reach its goal in its own way.”
Regional Team Approach
Living Water Smart and the Green Communities project provided context that helped frame the learning outcomes for the pilot series in the Cowichan and Comox valleys, respectively.
“The Learning Lunch Seminar Series helped local government representatives conceptualize why a consistent approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure is needed and what it means regionally,” continues Derek Richmond, Manager of Engineering, City of Courtenay, and the driving force behind the Comox Valley series.
“This grass-roots approach to ‘informing and educating’ provided a beginning, and expertise around an issue. This combination started conversations and generated energy and passion to do business differently,”
“Outcomes include inter-departmental collaboration, inter-municipal sharing, and regional alignment. A key message is to view ‘planning’ not as land-zoning function but as a multi-faceted and iterative process that embraces the concept of truly integrated water-centric planning,” concludes Derek Richmond.
Water Balance Model Forums
An outcome of the Cowichan Valley series was the Vancouver Island Water Balance Model Forum, held in October 2008 and hosted by the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “Building on the Vancouver Island experience, the City of Surrey will host the first Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum on March 12, 2009,” states Kim Stephens.
Cowichan Valley Forum:
Willing development proponents and their planning/design consultants collaborated with the Water Balance Model team to develop three case study applications that were shared at the Cowichan Valley Forum.
5. Creating Our Future: The Natural City Vision
Module D is the story of The Natural City as told by Vic Derman.
The Natural City is the desired outcome of a layered design process, one that aims to shape and ensure the future wellbeing of an urban region by viewing development and redevelopment opportunities through three lenses: Regional Growth Strategy; Climate Change; and Quality of Life and Place.
Vic Derman’s key message is that Quality of Life and Place is BC’s competitive advantage; thus, it is in our best interests to create a legacy for future generations whereby settlement is in balance with ecology. He has defined 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.
Vic Derman is a visionary elected representative from Vancouver Island; and is well-versed in a water-centric way of thinking. In his blueprint for action, Vic Derman describes how conventional approaches to urban design could be readily modified to meet the goals of the The Natural City.