Hastings Creek: View the Watershed through a “Sustainable Service Delivery” Lens
Note to Reader:
Linkages between the Water Balance, watershed and stream health, and infrastructure liability have emerged as important pieces in ensuring ‘sustainable drainage infrastructure’ in BC, both fiscally and ecologically. The Province’s branding for this holistic approach is Sustainable Service Delivery.
Unfunded Infrstructure Liability: An Incentive to Do Business Differently
“Local governments are faced with a financial challenge: the initial capital cost of infrastructure is about 20% of the life-cycle cost; the other 80% largely represents a future unfunded liability. Each year, the funding shortfall grows as infrastructure ages. This fiscal reality creates the incentive to prevent additional financial impacts,” states Gavin Joyce, the District’s General Manager for Engineering, Parks and Facilities.
“While developers and new home purchasers pay the initial capital cost of municipal infrastructure, it is local government that assumes responsibility for the long-term cost associated with operation, maintenance and replacement of infrastructure assets. In addition, local governments bear the entire financial burden to stabilize and restore watercourses impacted by increased rainwater runoff volume AFTER land is developed or redeveloped.”
Implementing the “ISMP Course Correction” in the District of North Vancouver
In Metro Vancouver, the spotlight is on a “course correction” in the way Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (i.e. “ISMPs”) are developed and implemented. The Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint is a demonstration application of the “ISMP Course Correction”.
ISMPs are a regulatory requirement as spelled out in the Metro Vancouver region’s Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan. When the Environment Minister approved the plan in May 2011, he also imposed requirements that link land use planning to the direction provided by the ISMPs.
“The District has ten major watersheds. In fulfilling the regulatory requirement for ISMPs, we must be strategic in how we invest our limited resources. This means we are stressing the need for, and value of, innovative approaches that lead to integrated solutions and thereby achieve multiple objectives,” states Gavin Joyce.
Next: Move from Planning to Action
“The Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint work has resulted in a balance of science-based understanding and practicality at the watershed scale. Next, engineering and planning will drill down to the individual site scale to implement changes in land development and infrastructure servicing practices,” continues Gavin Joyce.
“We have a plan; there is agreement about the goals; we are developing tools for use by staff, developers and homeowners; and we have a schedule of opportunities. Everything that we need is in play.”
“It is important that we seize opportunities to tell the Hastings Creek story. It is also essential that we communicate why and how we are being successful. Then others will leverage what has been accomplished to date by Ariel Estrada, Richard Boase and Karen Rendek. If we all tell the story, then people will become energized in the re-telling.”
Getting It Right the Second Time
“We have the tools. We have the understanding. It is a matter of applying both to ‘get it right the second time’. Implement a design with nature approach. Install green infrastructure that restores the Water Balance,” adds Richard Boase, the District’s Environmental Protection Officer.
“The opportunities are watershed-wide. The current Town Centre process has created the opportunity for the District to connect the dots and achieve anintegrated outcome at three scales: site, neighbourhood and watershed.”
“With a clear vision and the Watershed Blueprint in place, the District will be able to incorporate desired actions into operational work plans and work with the development community to restore watershed function over a period of decades,” foreshadows Ariel Estrada, Project Engineer whose responsibilities include drainage infrastructure. His long-term working relationship with Richard Boase has built the foundation for the Watershed Blueprint process.
“We are all very passionate about what we do. Through collaboration, we are sharing and integrating perspectives. As an outcome, the Lynn Valley Town Centre and Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint processes are cross-fertilizing each other,” concludes Karen Rendek, Policy Planner and the District’s project leader for the Draft Implementation Plan for the Lynn Valley Town Centre.
To Learn More:
To read the complete story about what Gavin Joyce has to share about the Hastings Creek experience, click on Reflect and Look Ahead to download Section 9 of “A Watershed Blueprint for Hastings Creek”.
To download a magazine article that elaborates on the challenge that the unfunded “infrastructure liability” poses for local government, click on Green Infrastructure: Achieve More With Less. The article was published by Construction Business Magazine in 2011.
“Local governments can protect watershed health by means of a ‘design with nature’ approach. This uses more natural features and functions, rather than hard man-made systems, to ‘green’ infrastructure practices. Through a watershed-based plan, local governments can strategically connect the dots between land use planning, development, watershed health AND asset management. And by ‘designing with nature’, local governments could make a very strong case for a ‘sustainable drainage system’, at a lower life-cycle cost,” concluded the authors.