OKANAGAN RAIN TO RESOURCE WORKSHOP: “Topsoil Primer Set” connects the dots between rainwater management and drought management (October 2010)

Note to Readers:

The purpose of Day 2 of the From Rain to Resource Workshop on October 29 in Kelowna is to integrate the perspectives of the people working on-the-ground and those developing and adopting policy. A featured tool is the Topsoil Primer Set. Deborah Carlson will speak to the Law & Policy Primer.

Topsoil Importance

An absorbent topsoil layer has emerged as a fundamental building block for achieving water sustainability outcomes through implementation of green infrastructure practices.

Topsoil is the interface between rainwater management and drought management. Soil depth creates a sponge…. which can limit runoff during wet-weather periods; and reduce water need during dry-weather periods.

To Learn More:

Click on “Topsoil Primer Set” connects the dots between rainwater management and drought management — The ‘Law & Policy’ and ‘Technical’ primers are built on the experience the Green Infrastructure Partnership has gained, since 2004, in promoting green infrastructure approaches to development in BC.

Implementation through Regulation

Deborah carlson (160p) - wcel staff lawyerA key challenge common to many green infrastructure projects is that there are many different departments and areas of responsibility engaged around the management of urban watersheds,” states Deborah Carlson, who represents West Coast Environmental Law on the Green Infrastructure Partnership steering committee.

‘Focusing on a single type of project—in this case, ‘topsoil requirements’ – can make it easier to map out the actors involved and the various decisions, actions and regulatory tools required and available to make the project a reality.”

Topsoil law & policy primer - presentation outline

Shared Responsibility Matrix

“To assist in this process, West Coast, in collaboration with the Green Infrastructure Partnership and Water Balance Model Partnership, has created a policy and legal tool called the ‘Shared Responsibility Matrix’. The matrix identifies the actors along with the various instruments that govern their actions.”

“Given the range of actors involved, communication that informs and reinforces policy and legal choices is likely to be a key factor in the success of any project. Within local government it will be important to communicate objectives and establish joint expectations and understanding across all relevant departments.”

“Externally it can be helpful to work with regional governments to develop a regionally coordinated approach. It is also critical to educate and collaborate with consulting, development and building professionals, and to educate the public about outcomes in order to boost compliance through understanding of the rationale for the requirements.”

“In terms of creating topsoil requirements at the municipal level there are a number of regulatory tools available, ranging from development permits to bylaws to performance standards,” summarizes Deborah Carlson.

To Learn More:

Click on Shared Responsibility Underpins a Regional Team Approach to Creating Our Future in British Columbia — The Province has enabled local government by providing law and policy tools to help achieve water sustainability and settlement change in balance with ecology.

Shared responsibility matrix

Topsoil Primer Set was an Outcome of the Surrey Water Balance Model Forum

Co-organized by the Water Balannce Model Partnership and Green Infrastructure Partnership, the 2009 Surrey Water Balance Model Forum was designed to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project implementers about a shared responsibility for getting green infrastructure built right. The Forum program explored how policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to ensure responsible outcomes.

Shared Responsibility on the Ground

Remi dube - january 2010 (120p)“We showcased the Morgan Heights development at the Forum because it exemplifies what we mean by shared responsibility,” states Remi Dubé, Acting Development Services Manager with the City of Surrey. He will be presenting the Topsoil Technical Primer at the From Rain to Resource Workshop.

“So we asked Ken Anderson, the development project manager, to tell his story at the Forum. Ken has been proactive in working with his builders to ensure the effectiveness of the absorbent layer of topsoil on each property that he develops.”

Ted van der gulik (120p)Ken Anderson’s story inspired us to develop the Topsoil Primer Set,” continues Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Water Balance Model Partnership. “We saw an opportunity to establish a precedent. If we could demonstrate how to successfully achieve the absorbent landscape objective, then it would open the door to tackling more challenging green infrastructure objectives. In other words, the topsoil primer became our litmus test of what we could accomplish.”

“The ‘Topsoil  Primer Set’ synthesizes the pioneering experience of the City of Courtenay, City of Surrey and District of North Vancouver.”

To Learn More:

Click on Enforcement of topsoil requirement for rainfall capture at Morgan Heights in the City of Surrey — A key message about the Morgan Heights development is that the developer is holding securities for landscaping and sediment control; and that money is not released until after the houses are built.

City of surrey - topsoil enforcement at morgan heights (version 2)