FLASHBACK TO 2009: City of Surrey hosted Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum
Note to Reader:
In April 2013, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC recognized the City of Surrey as a Champion Supporter of the Partnership. The presentation of a framed “letter of recognition” to Mayor and Council provided the opportunity to reflect on the historical and provincial significance of successive transformational events hosted by the City over the past decade.
The vignette presented below is extracted from Getting Green Infrastructure “Built Right”: City of Surrey has Moved Beyond Pilot Projects to a Broader Watersheds Objectives Approach. Note that the vignette incorporates supplementary detail that expands on the significance of the Water Balance Model Forum hosted by the Surrey in 2009.
Living Water Smart and Making Green Choices to Create Liveable Communities & Protect Stream Health
Branded as Living Water Smart and Making Green Choices to Create Liveable Communities and Protect Stream Health, and hosted by the City of Surrey, the program for the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum was built around the HOW question as it pertains to green infrastructure:
- HOW will the City of Surrey get it built right;
- HOW will a consistent regional approach be achieved in Metro Vancouver?
The Forum was co-sponsored by the Water Balance Model Partnership and the Green Infrastructure Partnership, with a goal of moving beyond pilot projects to a watershed-based approach to achieving performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure.
Joint Statement by the Forum Partners
“To get to the big picture, it starts with the smallest pieces. For this reason, the Surrey Forum is advancing a regional team approach that aligns local actions with provincial policy goals as articulated in the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives Making this happen requires partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration.”
“We see the Forum as providing an opportunity to generate 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. We believe this is where the opportunity for implementing a regional team approach resides.”
“We anticipate that the Forum sharing sessions will show that there are solutions if people talk to each other about what they each could do differently. This will help all parties collaborate to more effectively fulfil their piece of the sustainable development puzzle.”
“Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there. All of us ….whether we are regulators, developers or designers ….need to understand and care about the goal if we are to create the future that we all want.”
Shared Responsibility Framework
The Surrey Forum was a first step in advancing a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure that would align local actions with provincial goals as stated in Living Water Smart.
Creating Our Future
“Living Water Smart provides a framework and sets a direction. The purpose in convening for action is to establish consistent expectations on-the-ground: This is what we want to achieve, and this is how we will get there,” stated Kim Stephens, Forum Team Leader.
“Our immediate objective in convening for action is to encourage ‘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 expectations and how all the players….regulators, developers, designers, etc….will work together, and after that each community can reach its goals in its own way.”
What Tools Work?
“The Surrey Forum was an opportunity for Metro Vancouver participants to explore the responsibility theme,” states Susan Rutherford, Staff Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law and a member of the Green Infrastructure Partnership Steering Committee. “The program design for the Surrey Forum incorporated experience gained through successful team-building on Vancouver Island.”
“Each party in the process has a responsibility. So, we facilitated a discussion of the respective responsibilities involved in implementing a vision, as well as a discussion of what each person’s experience has to tell us about which tool – legal, policy or otherwise – is appropriate for holding each party accountable. In this way, we hoped to learn what works well and what could work better.”
“What tools work in which context? What are the legal tools and what are the challenges, and which legal tool makes the most sense for getting the job done?”
“What do you want to say to each other – the other parties in this joint endeavour of community development – about who has ‘dropped the ball’ in what process. What is (not) working?”
“Have you turned your mind to how this might work more effectively to achieve results? What bylaws, policies, procedures or other tools can you imagine would make this work better?”
Starting a Dialogue
“Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there,” emphasized Vincent Lalonde, General Manager of the Engineering Department for the City of Surrey. “All of us ….whether we are regulators, developersor designers ….need to understand and care about the goal if we are to create the future that we all want.”
“Surrey hosted the Forum because we wanted to start a dialogue in this region between policy-makers and project implementers. We approached the program design from a shared responsibility perspective. We explored how policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to ensure responsible outcomes.”
To Learn More:
The story of the Forum is told in a series of six stories published weekly on the Waterbucket website. These describe the elements of the Forum program, and are consolidated in a stand-alone document titled The Story of the 2009 Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum: Living Water Smart and Making Green Choices to Create Liveable Communities and Protect Stream Health