Partnership for Water Sustainability aligns efforts with Ministry of Environment to advance the “Beyond the Guidebook” initiative



Note to Reader:

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is helping the Province implement the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives in the local government setting. Launched in 2008, these initiatives comprise plans, strategies, targets, actions and tools to reduce the ‘water footprint’ of BC communities. The Partnership is incorporated as a not-for-profit society.

The article below comprises two stand-alone yet interconnected parts. The first part is an announcement about Partnership collaboration with the Ministry of Environment. The second part traces the history of the “Beyond the Guidebook” initiative which the Partnership is leading. Moving forward, the vision for alignment of Ministry-Partnership efforts is that the Beyond the Guidebook initiative will demonstrate how to integrate regulatory compliance and collaboration.  

To download a PDF version of the complete article in a report-format, click on Partnership for Water Sustainability aligns efforts with Ministry of Environment to advance the “Beyond the Guidebook” initiative



Move from Awareness to Action

“The Partnership vision is that water sustainability will be achieved through implementation of green infrastructure policies and practices. The Partnership is the hub for a ‘convening for action’ network. As the hub, we provide support for practitioners who are managing and/or leading change in a local government setting. Through sharing of experience and application of science-based understanding, our goal is to help communities move from awareness to action on the ground,” states Tim Pringle, President.

“The Partnership has primary responsibility for evolution and delivery of program elements developed under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in February 2004. A flagship initiative is branded as “Beyond the Guidebook” because it is building on the technical foundation created a decade ago when Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia was jointly released by the Province and Environment Canada in June 2002,” adds Peter Law, Chair of the inter-governmental Guidebook Steering Committee (2000-2002). Formerly with the Ministry of Environment, Peter Law is a founding Director of the Partnership.


The Mission: Demonstrate How to Integrate Regulatory Compliance and Collaboration

“The Ministry recognizes and appreciates that, commencing with release of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC in 2004, the Partnership is doing what government views as important work,” states Cairine MacDonald, Deputy Minister, BC Ministry of Environment.

¨The Ministry values what the Partnership has accomplished since 2007 under the umbrella of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. In particular, the Ministry celebrates the Partnership’s latest success in bringing together four regional districts through an Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Inter-regional collaboration is the pathway to a consistent approach to water sustainability and green infrastructure policies and practices up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island.”

“The Ministry looks forward to aligning efforts with the Partnership in three regions — Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland and the Okanagan — to further advance implementation of the “Beyond the Guidebook” initiative; and provide communities with the tools and knowledge to protect and/or restore watershed health. The Ministry’s renewed emphasis on the rainwater management component of Liquid Waste Management Plans has created an opportunity to demonstrate how to integrate regulatory compliance and collaboration.”


Collaboration Starts with Shared Responsibility

“Looking back at the past decade, and in terms of the water sustainability goal, BC experience has demonstrated the benefits of a sustained provincial commitment to a collaborative and educational approach. This commitment is founded on the notion of ‘shared responsibility’. This holds the long-term key to achieving success. Yet, shared responsibility has its limitations,” continues Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“Yes, local governments have the tools and experience to ‘get it right’. Their challenge, however, is to capitalize on rather miss opportunities. This is why they need a regulatory driver to help them knuckle down and ensure comprehensive and consistent implementation of green infrastructure policies and practices.”

“At the heart of a ‘compliance + collaboration’ philosophy is an understanding and recognition of how local government demonstration projects have informed the Living Water Smart and Green Communities. On-the-ground applications provide assurance that the policy framework is technically sound, and that full-scale implementation will be affordable and effective.”

“At the end of the day, however, someone has to say ‘this is what you will do; just get on with it’. As the regulator, that is the role of the Ministry of Environment. This is the situation in Metro Vancouver, for example, where the Minister has connected the dots between land use planning and watershed health, and has imposed conditions that commit municipalities to action pursuant to the regulatory requirements spelled out in the region’s Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan,” concludes Kim Stephens.


Living Water Smart Actions and Targets

“Living Water Smart presents government’s vision for sustainable land and water stewardship. The 45 actions and targets in Living Water Smart establish expectations vis-à-vis how land will be developed (or redeveloped) and water will be used. The Green Communities Initiative complements Living Water Smart, and provides enabling tools for local government,” reports Ted van der Gulik, the Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture, and Chair of the Water Balance Model Partnership.

“To make it possible to achieve Living Water Smart targets and actions, the Province has led development of a suite of web-based tools through partnerships with local government. Tools include the website, Water Balance Model, and Water Conservation Calculator. These three tools reside within the Partnership and support new approaches to water management.”



Beyond the Guidebook: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia

“In 2002, Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia advanced this provocative premise: land development and watershed protection can be compatible. This radical shift in practitioner thinking resulted from recognition of HOW a science-based understanding could bridge the gap between high-level policy objectives and site design practices. The Guidebook formalized the Water Balance Methodology for rainfall capture and runoff control. And it set the stage for defining water sustainability as an outcome of green infrastructure policies and practices,” recalls Peter Law.


Green Infrastructure and Stream Health

“Over the next five years, British Columbia practitioners became comfortable with what ‘rainfall capture’ meant in practice. By 2007, it was time to focus attention on how to truly protect and/or restore stream health in urban watersheds. The evolution in watershed thinking was captured in Beyond the Guidebook: Context for Rainwater Management and Green Infrastructure in British Columbia, released in June 2007,” continues Kim Stephens.

“Beyond the Guidebook addressed the relationship between volume control (rainfall capture) and resulting flow rates in streams; and correlated stream health with stream erosion. On February 10, 2009 the Ministry of Community Development sent out a circular that brought the Beyond the Guidebook initiative to the attention of all Municipal and Regional District Chief Administrative Officers, Engineers and Planners.”

“Beyond the Guidebook was released in June 2007 as a guidance document…. (and) supports and/or complements other provincial initiatives, notably: Living Water Smart, the Green Communities Project and A Guide to Green Choices. Collectively, these initiatives establish expectations that, in turn, will influence the form and function of the built environment in general and green infrastructure on the ground in particular,” wrote Glen Brown, Executive Director.

To Learn More: Click on  Ministry of Community Development Circular informs BC local governments about ‘Beyond the Guidebook’


How Change is Being Implemented

“Third in the series of guidance documents was Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia. Released in June 2010, Beyond the Guidebook 2010 describes how a ‘convening for action’ philosophy has taken root in British Columbia. The formal rollout commenced in September 2010 at the Annual Convention of the Union of BC Municipalities with a co-presentation by Glen Brown and Raymond Fung (Chair, Green Infrastructure Partnership). They represented the provincial and local government perspectives, respectively,” reports Kim Stephens.

“People learn through stories. Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is the ‘telling of the stories’ of how change is being implemented on the ground in British Columbia. These stories demonstrate that the practitioner and community culture is changing as an outcome of collaboration, partnerships and alignment. Case study experience presented in Beyond the Guidebook 2010 clearly shows that a new land ethic is taking root in British Columbia. Changing the culture requires a process. This takes time to complete. There is no short-cut.”

To Learn More: Click on Forging Gold Medal Standards for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia

Also, to download a PDF version of the complete article in a report-format, click on Partnership for Water Sustainability aligns efforts with Ministry of Environment to advance the “Beyond the Guidebook” initiative