FLASHBACK TO 2006: City of Surrey co-hosted Pilot Series for Celebrating Green Infrastructure Innovation in Metro Vancouver



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 Celebrating Green Infrastructure Innovation Series co-hosted by the Surrey in 2006.



Convening for Regional Action to Implement Green Infrastructure

In May 2005, the Green Infrastructure Partnership sponsored a consultation workshop in collaboration with the Metro Vancouver Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC). The CIty of Surrey hosted this event.

“The reason for convening the REAC Workshop was to solicit the participation of willing municipalities in developing green infrastructure content for policy and technical communication guides that would be written from the perspectives of elected officials and senior managers, respectively,” recalls Paul Ham, Past-Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership (2005 – 2008) and formerly General Manager of the City of Surrey’s Engineering Department.

“At the workshop, it became clear that pilot projects were scattered around the Metro Vancouver region, but there was no overall vision for what each community wants its municipality to look like. Because green infrastructure was then viewed by local governments as non-essential, new approaches were needed to share, adapt and leverage experience among practitioners – both within and and among municipalities.”


Regional Framework for Outreach and Education

The 2005 Consultation Workshop crystallized a grass-roots desire to pool resources under a regional framework for an outreach and continuing education program. An action item was Celebrating Green Infrastructure: The 2006 Showcasing Innovation Series in Metro Vancouver. This pilot series comprised three “showcasing events” and was co-hosted by the District of North Vancouver, City of Surrey, CIty of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia

“The goal was to build regional capacity through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of ‘designing with nature’. The pilot series was a building block process – each time the objective was to raise the bar when celebrating successes in Metro Vancouver municipalities,” explains Ray Fung (District of West Vancouver). He succeeded Paul Ham as Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership in 2008.

“TThe program was organized as a workshop in the morning followed by field tour in the afternoon. This format created opportunities for practitioners to network and share ‘how to do it’ experiences on the ground. The host municipalities set the scene for the field tour by providing comprehensive and in-depth presentations.”

“When we talked to practitioners in local government, it didn’t matter what the region, the message was the same…they told us that they were too busy to communicate with their colleagues in neighbouring municipalities. Yet the irony is that there is much to learn by sharing information with each other. At the end of the day, it seems that it requires a third party to connect people,” adds Paul Ham.


An Overview of the 2006 Pilot Series

The first in the series – Showcasing Innovation in North Vancouver – successfully used a lane, an arterial highway and the Maplewood community as real-life case studies that informed participants about the benefits of innovation. For the lane example, selection of porous pavement to infiltrate rainwater runoff was an outcome of an inter-departmental design charrette where the Water Balance Model was a key decision tool.

The second in the series – Showcasing Innovation in Surrey – was held in June 2006 and focused on what the City of Surrey believes it can systematically accomplish on-the-ground, at a watershed scale, now and over the next 50 years by building on experience gained from the East Clayton Sustainable Community.

The third in the series – Showcasing Innovation in Vancouver and at the University of British Columbia – was held in September 2006 and featured  eco-friendly roadways that reflect a ‘design with nature’ approach to integrating rainwater runoff management and transportation design.


To Learn More:

To learn more about program development, click on Celebrating Green Infrastructure: Summary Report on 2006 Showcasing Innovation Series.


District of North Vancouver: Pervious pavement installed on Pemberton Avenue lane


City of Surrey: Lawn basin for on-site rainwater management in East Clayton Sustainable Community


City of Vancouver: Crown Street Sustainable Streetscape