METRO VANCOUVER UTILITIES COMMITTEE: “The IREI provides Metro Vancouver municipalities with a mechanism to collaborate, share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience with local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island,” stated Kim Stephens when he updated Metro Vancouver elected representatives about successes flowing from the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (Sept 2018)

Note to Reader:

Commencing in September 2011, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia has met with the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee on an ongoing basis to report out and provide updates on the program that the Partnership is delivering under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, and through initiatives such as the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).

The number of presentations to the Utilities Committee during the September 2011 through September 2018 period totals 11. On these occasions, and at the invitation of the Committee Chair, Kim Stephens (Partnership Executive Director) has represented the Partnership as an “invited delegation”.

Inter-Regional Collaboration for Healthy Watersheds

“On behalf of the Utilities Committee, I invited Kim Stephens to provide us with an update on the successes of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in facilitating inter-regional collaboration through the participation of five regional districts in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Together the five represent three-quarters of BC’s population,” stated Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Chair.

“The long-term support provided by Mayor Darrell Mussatto has contributed to the effectiveness of the Partnership as the hub for a ‘convening for action’ network in the local government setting,” reported Kim Stephens. “Over the years, the support of Mayor Mussatto and the Utilities Committee at several pivotal moments went a long way towards ensuring that the Partnership would be successful in carrying out its capacity-building mission.

Three Key Messages

“Inter-governmental collaboration and funding enable the Partnership to develop approaches, tools and resources; as well as provide teaching, training and mentoring,” continued Kim Stephens.

“We depend on the goodwill of community leaders such as Mayor Mussatto to provide political support for the unique bridging role that the Partnership plays in the local government setting.

“My presentation to the Utilities Committee in September 2018 was built around three key messages. In addition to reporting out on what had been achieved over the previous 18 months with a federal-provincial grant, I thanked the committee for sponsoring the Blue Ecology Workshop in November 2017, and I invited them to join delegates from Vancouver Island and beyond at the Second Annual Symposium on Water Stewardship in  a Changing Climate.

Twin Pillars for Sustainable Watershed Systems

“In 2016, Metro Vancouver support helped the Partnership secure federal and provincial funding in the amount of $265,000 for the Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management program,” Kim Stephens reminded the Utilities Committee.

“The $265,000 grant enabled the Partnership to move forward with three parallel initiatives that have further strengthened the ‘twin pillars’ of the IREI, namely the Water Balance Methodology and the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP).

“The Partnership is currently collaborating with UBCM and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to integrate ‘natural assets’ into engineered asset management. ‘Getting it right’ starts with recognition that hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services,” emphasized Kim Stephens.

Inter-Regional Accomplishments in 2017-2018

In 2017-2018, federal-provincial funding enabled the Partnership to move forward with three initiatives:

  • Water Balance Model Desktopdownloadable version for advanced users complements the original online decision support tool.
  • Water Balance Express for LandownersMetro Vancouver applications now total four: North Van District, Langley Township, Surrey & Coquitlam.
  • EAP two demonstration applications completed on Vancouver Island have tested the “valuation of worth” methodology to generate ‘real numbers’ using the BC Assessment database.

A foundation concept is that ecological systems such as creeksheds are “infrastructure assets” that provide “water balance services” that in turn power “ecological services”.

A guiding principle for EAP development is that local governments need “real numbers” to deliver outcomes and support decision making.  Hence, EAP deals with a basic question:  what is a creekshed WORTH, now and in future, to the community and various intervenors?

EAP provides a methodology to assign a dollar value to the “stream corridor and riparian zone” (natural assets). Then a baseline annual budget for maintenance and management of this “Commons Asset” can be incorporated in asset management strategies and plans. Inclusion requires definition and measurement.

WORTH is defined as use by the community of a “package of ecological services” made possible by the hydrology. Ecological services are diverse, and provide environmental, social and traditional (core) services to the community via a natural asset – in this case, a creek/riparian area.

In 2017-2018, Stage 1 tested the concept for leveraging the BC Assessment database to establish a financial value for the “Commons Asset” (the land comprising the stream corridor and riparian zone).

In 2019, Stage 2 would refine the “valuation of worth” methodology (Stage 1) by further validating the EAP through additional demonstration applications with collaborating local governments.

An Invitation to the Parksville 2019 Symposium

“My presentation to the Utilities Committee provided me with a timely opportunity to make the first outreach announcement about the Parksville 2019 Symposium, even though the Parksville 2019 Organizing Committee was still in the early stages of program development. Suffice to say, I decided to be bold and seize the moment in order to plant seeds about the vision for restorative development,” recalls Kim Stephens.

“The Partnership has a track record of being bold in mainstreaming new ideas. When I informed the Utilities Committee about Parksville 2019, my message was succinct: the twin pillars of Sustainable Watershed Systems underpin the vision for restorative development. At the end of the day, it is essential to reconnect ecology and hydrology to bring the vision for restorative development to fruition. Only then would restorative development have a lasting beneficial impact.”

To Learn More:

Download a copy of the Agenda and the Minutes for the meeting of the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee on September 20, 2018. The Agenda includes a copy of the Progress Update by Kim Stephens.

Visit the homepage for the Parksville 2019 Symposium: