GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Awareness / Education / Requirement – “Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will be by regulation,” stated Chuck Gale, a senior local government director of engineering in the Metro Vancouver region and the first Chair (2003-2005) of the BC Green Infrastructure Partnership, when he reflected on the path forward at the 2004 Consultation Workshop held in Metro Vancouver
Note to Reader:
During the period 2003 through 2010, the Green Infrastructure Partnership (also known by the acronym “GIP”) played a prominent role in leading change and assisting with implementation of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, primarily in the Metro Vancouver region. The work of the GIP served as the pilot for the program implemented on Vancouver Island as CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island – Leadership in Water Sustainability.
The GIP was one of six elements that made up the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in February 2004. The six elements holistically link water management with land use. The Action Plan recognizes that the greatest impact on water, land and water resources occurs through our individual values, choices and behaviour. It also recognizes that partnerships hold the key to building broad-based support for improving water management practices, and for integration of water management with land use.
After incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC as a not-for-profit society in 2010, the responsibilities of the GIP were assumed by the Partnership for Water Sustainability. The last GIP Chair, Ray Fung, has carried on as a member of the Partnership’s Leadership Team.
In 2003, it started with a vision for a Model Subdivision Bylaw and Green Infrastructure Standards
The Green Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) was formed in 2003 to promote an integrated approach to land development and infrastructure servicing that addressed the need for coordinated change at different scales – that is: region, neighbourhood, site and building. The founding members were:
- Master Municipal Construction Document Association (MMCD
- Water Sustainability Committee (WSC) of the BC Water & Waste Association
- West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL)
- BC Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services (CAWS)
An operating principle was that the GIP be chaired by a representative of local government. Thus, during the period 2003 through 2011, the three chairs were Chuck Gale (City of Richmond), Paul Ham (City of Surrey) and Ray Fung (District of West Vancouver). Chuck Gale was also the MMCD Founding Chair.
The Green Infrastructure Partnership will provide leadership by developing practical tools and instruments for green infrastructure design practices and regulation, and by encouraging their application in BC.
An Integrated Approach to Land Development
“The Green Infrastructure Partnership is a consortium of four organizations that share a vision for developing and implementing a Model Subdivision Bylaw and Green Infrastructure Standards that will present options for land development regulation province-wide,” stated Chuck Gale, GIP Chair, at the time of formation.
“Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will be by regulation. This will be a multi-step process. The first step will be the creation and dissemination of an optional ‘Green Supplement’ to the Master Municipal Construction Document Association (MMCD) Design Guidelines.
“The Green Infrastructure Partnership also recognizes that resolution of green infrastructure issues will depend on the sustained efforts of various groups and individuals over time.”
Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time
“The formation of the Green Infrastructure Partnership was pure serendipity. It exemplified why it is so important that the right people be in the right place at the right moment for things to happen,” recalled Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. He was a founding member of the GIP.
“The coming together of four organizations to form the GIP was a direct outcome of the UBCM Urban Forum at the 2003 Annual Conference. At the Forum, I was part of the 3-person team that rolled out the Water Balance Model to elected representatives. This high profile launch was the first step in a comprehensive outreach and continuing education program that continues to this day.”
“On that day, Chuck Gale was at the back of the room when Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk, Chilliwack’s Dipak Basu and I told our story. Chuck was well-known to me as a result of our collaboration when he was the General Manager of Engineering at the City of North Vancouver. Throughout the presentation, Chuck had my attention because of his broad grin. Afterwards, Chuck came up to me and said, ‘Kim, we need to talk’.”
“Our conversation set in motion a series of meetings, These were held over a very short period of time. First with Ray Fung (October 2003), Chair of the Water Sustainability Committee. Then with Deborah Curran (November 2003), at the time the Sustainable Land Use Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law. And finally (February 2004), with Dale Wall, the CAWS Assistant Deputy Minister. Dale Wall hosted the inaugural meeting of the GIP in Victoria.”
“Dale liked the initiative and quickly read between the lines to identify that our proposed approach in bringing together four entities under a partnership umbrella would help the provincial government achieve a number of objectives he wanted to see attained. He liked the collaborative and consultative nature of what we envisioned, and the fact that our ‘Partnership’ consisted of known and proven entities,” reported Dale Wall after his exploratory meeting with Dale Wall in December 2004.
TO LEARN MORE:
2004 Practitioners Workshop
A workshop on May 11th 2004 provided an opportunity to introduce the Green Infrastructure Partnership to a selected provincial audience. It also provided the opportunity to test and validate the direction in which the GIP was heading. The 2004 consultation explored the diversity of issues and difficulties inherent in defining and implementing a green infrastructure approach to land development.
“Workshop participants included persons with expertise from various jurisdictions and projects, which had embraced some aspect of green infrastructure. It also included practitioners and advocates of developing green infrastructure practices,” stated Chuck Gale.
“The consultation resulted in identification of 17 recommendations in five theme areas. An over-arching theme that emerged from the discussion revolved around the need to provide the bridge between those who make the decisions and those who implement the decisions.”
“The GIP leadership team concluded that an effective way to address this need would be to produce two levels of ‘why we are doing this’ guides: a Policy Guide for Elected Officials – to provide a big picture overview; and a Technical Guide for Senior Staff – to identify policy options and provide the technical pros and cons for each.”
Green Infrastructure Defined (2004)
“Using a narrow interpretation, green infrastructure refers to the ecological processes, both natural and engineered, that are the foundation for a healthy natural and built environment in communities,” wrote Deborah Curran. “Municipalities using the green infrastructure as an integral part of how development occurs find that it is often less costly than hard infrastructure, and also offers aesthetic, environmental, health and recreational benefits.”
To Learn More:
Download the AGENDA.
Download the DISCUSSION PAPER that was distributed to participants prior to the workshop.
Download the THANK YOU MEMO from the GIP Steering Committee.
Workshop outcomes are documented in the Report on the Green Infrastructure Consultation Held on May 11, 2004 in Vancouver .
Section 4 of the report summarizes the event outcomes and provides a frame-of-reference for the 2005 REAC Workshop.
The Green Infrastructure Partnership: A Foundation Piece for Enduring Success in “Convening for Action” in BC
“The WSC served as the managing partner for the GIP, with responsibility to coordinate and document the work of the GIP, and integrate the outcomes into the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,” explained Kim Stephens in 2021. As Program Coordinator, he was tasked with the responsibility for developing and delivering the Action Plan.
“The GIP was much more than an initiative. And it was much more than just an Action Plan Element. The influence of the GIP was transformational. Along with the Water Balance Model program, the GIP was a foundation piece that made possible long-term Action Plan success. Moreover, the influence of the GIP has rippled through time.”
“Programs such as Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation and Beyond the Guidebook originated with the GIP. Early successes in the Metro Vancouver region made it possible to transfer the experience to Vancouver Island and take the ‘convening for action’ process to new levels.”
“By 2010, the WSC was at a fork in the road. Ensuring success in delivering the Action Plan through an expanding inter-governmental partnership network meant the time had come to morph the committee into the Partnership for Water Sustainability, a self-sustaining legal entity. At that point, the GIP had reached the end of its natural life as a catalyst for action, and its responsibilities were rolled into the Partnership for Water Sustainability.”
To Learn More:
Evolution of the Water Sustainability Action Plan branding images during the period 2004-2007