Vancouver Island pilot program informs Metro Vancouver’s Liquid Resource Management Plan
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The Province’s Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan and Green Communities Project provide a policy framework for aligning efforts at three scales – provincial, regional and local – to improve the way that land is developed and water is used in British Columbia.
“Collaboration, innovation, integration and partnerships are helping local governments in three regions (Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan) make the best
choices for sustainable, healthy and vibrant communities,” states Glen Brown, Executive Director with the Ministry of Community & Rural Development.
“The Province’s expectation is that sewage and rainwater will be managed as resources, not waste. By implementing approaches and solutions that are founded on Green Infrastructure and Integrated Resource Recovery ways-of-thinking and acting ……desired outcomes at local and regional scales include water sustainability and settlement in balance with ecology.”
Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, experience gained in one region is being adapted to suit the needs of the other regions. Cross-fertilization between regions creates the opportunity to continually build on the experience of others and take turns leapfrogging ahead.
“The Water Sustainability Action Plan is being delivered through partnerships and regional pilots. Furthermore, web-based tools such as the Water Balance Model are helping to bring about fundamental changes in how land is developed and water is used,” states Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model.
“Through outreach and education, the Action Plan vision is to influence land and water practitioners to learn about and use practices that better balance the necessary relationships of settlement activity and ecological assets in local and regional landscapes.”
Convening for Action
Commencing in 2007, Vancouver Island has been the pilot region for a regional team approach that is water-centric and precedent-setting, is founded on partnerships and collaboration, and seeks to align local actions with provincial goals.
“Convening for Action on Vancouver Island – better known by the acronym CAVI – is a notable success story that is garnering national and international interest,” reports John Finnie, CAVI Chair.
“Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island are learning from each other, and are moving in the same direction. In particular, CAVI is pleased to see that Vancouver Island experience is integrated into A Recommended Policy Framework for Liquid Resource Management in Metro Vancouver, released in July 2009.”
Regional Team Approach
A regional team approach is founded on broad and inclusive partnerships and collaboration that reach for the common goal of sustainability. In short, all the players set their sights on the common good and challenge the old barriers of jurisdictional interests. To achieve the common good, this ultimately requires bringing together:
- Local government – those who plan and regulate land use;
- Developers – those who build;
- The Province – those who provide the legislative framework;
- Universities and colleges – those who provide research; and
- Stewardship sector – those who advocate conservation of resources.
“Our immediate objective when convening for action is to foster ‘green choices’ that will ripple through time, and will be cumulative in creating liveable communities and protecting stream health,” explains Eric Bonham of the CAVI Leadership Team. “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.”
“Metro Vancouver experience has informed the CAVI program, and CAVI has successfully implemented the vision and work plan that were the outcomes of the 2005 REAC Green Infrastructure Consultation Workshop, hosted by the City of Surrey,” reports Raymond Fung, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. “In particular, CAVI adapted the experience gained from Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in Metro Vancouver: The 2006 Series.”
“The showcasing approach enables host local governments to tell their stories and share their experiences in a way that no other forum currently provides. In 2007, showcasing series were held on both sides of the Georgia Basin.”
Learning Lunch Series
Success in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island in 2007 provided the springboard for the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series. Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Project provided context that framed the learning outcomes. The Series helped local government representatives conceptualize why a consistent approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure is needed and what it means regionally. This evolved into the ‘regional team approach’.
Metro Vancouver Application
The Vancouver Island experience informed the design of the Metro Vancouver Forum in March 2009, which was: hosted by the City of Surrey; jointly organized by the Green Infrastructure Partnership and the Inter-Governmental Partnership; funded in part by Environment Canada; and undertaken as an outreach opportunity for Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Project.
The Surrey Forum
The ‘Surrey Forum’ was designed to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project implementers. To that end, the Forum program was built around the HOW question as it pertains to green infrastructure: HOW will the City of Surrey ensure it gets built right; HOW will a consistent regional approach be achieved in Metro Vancouver?
“We see the Forum generating positive energy in the region. In particular, the Forum will inform the actions identified in the rainwater/stormwater component of Metro Vancouver’s updated Liquid Waste Management Plan,” states Ray Fung. “We believe this is where the opportunity for implementing a regional team approach resides.”
Liquid Resource Management Plan
Appointed by the Metro Vancouver Regional Board in April 2008 to provide independent advice and recommendations regarding the management of liquid wastes and rainwater, the Liquid Waste Management Reference Panel presented their Final Report on A Liquid Resource Management Plan for Metro Vancouver on July 15, 2009 at a meeting with elected representatives.
Framework for Integration:
“We have recommended that Metro Vancouver adopt a Policy Framework that comprises 19 actions and/or guiding principles. The Policy Framework is keyed to a regional team approach; and is informed by Vancouver Island examples or precedents,” states Kim Stephens, Reference Panel Chair.
“Because the Comox Valley is the provincial pilot for integrating and implementing regional sustainability, growth and infrastructure plans through a regional team approach…this reinforces the approach to integration taken by Metro Vancouver, and creates an opportunity for the two regions to cross-fertilize their experience.”
“The regional scales may be vastly different, but the issues are universal. At the end of the day, it is all about whether people share a vision and how they collaborate for the common good.”
Reference Panel Recommendations
“The desired outcome is to manage sewage and rainwater as resources, not waste,” states the preamble to Table 1 – A Recommended Policy Framework for Liquid Resource Management in Metro Vancouver.”
“The Liquid Waste Management Plan is a powerful regulatory tool because it enables Metro Vancouver members to integrate community design with desired outcomes at the provincial and regional scales and individual actions at a site scale.”
Of the Reference Panel’s 19 recommendations, three focus on the need for early action to strengthen a regional team approach:
Built Environment: Mandate a renamed and ‘new SILG’ (Stormwater Interagency Liaison Group) to spearhead a regional team approach to develop policy, legal and technical tools that will enable ‘integrated solutions’ for rainwater management, green infrastructure and integrated resource recovery. (Recommendation #6)
Built Environment: Implement a consistent region-wide approach to neighbourhood (re)development and building design that integrates rainwater management, green infrastructure and integrated resource recovery. (Recommendation #7)
Implementation: Continue to implement and strengthen inter-departmental and inter-governmental continuing education opportunities for Metro Vancouver members that align local actions with provincial and regional goals, and result in consistent expectations for region-wide implementation of Plan elements. (Recommendation #19)
“Because the Metro Vancouver region has a decade of experience in implementing green infrastructure, lessons learned about how to influence behaviour can also inform the region’s approach to Integrated Resource Recovery,” the Reference Panel concludes (on page 14 of its Final Report).
The New Business As Usual
The mandate of the Ministry of Community & Rural Development is to foster partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration through the program elements that comprise the Green Communities Project. This encompasses a number of plans and strategies that complement and/or support Living Water Smart .
“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, Deputy Minister when he announced the launch of both the new Water Balance Model and the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series at the Gaining Ground Summit in May 2008.
“Ultimately it is the Ministry’s grant programs that provide the incentives that enable the Province to influence behaviour; and reward those who meet program objectives for doing business differently on-the-ground,” adds Glen Brown.