Category:

Convening for Action in Lower Mainland

FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Think about it – the Reference Panel has influenced the waste committee, the finance committee and the way we make decisions overall. It is great,” stated Pam Goldsmith-Jones, former mayor of West Vancouver (2005-2011)


When the process for updating the Metro Vancouver region’s “Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan” commenced in 2008, Metro Vancouver Regional District staff were enthusiastic about the role of the Reference Panel. Because there was trust with staff, and the Reference Panel had the attention of the politicians, the Reference Panel could say what staff could not. There was huge positive value in that. The Reference Panel reinforced desired outcomes with its recommendations.

Read Article

CONVENING FOR ACTION IN METRO VANCOUVER: “Chuck Gale brought instant credibility as chair because of his stature among local governments and with the Province,” recalls Ray Fung, a retired Director of Engineering in local government, and former Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership


As a City Engineer for three Metro Vancouver municipalities over the course of his career, Chuck Gale was a leading voice in the municipal engineering community. He was the driving force behind formation of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. “When we formed the GIP in 2003, green infrastructure was an emerging concept. The paradigm-shift that then occurred far exceeds our original expectation that the partnership would be a catalyst for change,” stated Chuck Gale a decade later.

Read Article

BRING THE SCIENCE INTO LOCAL GOVERNMENT: “Hans Schreier of UBC ignited my passion in the mid-1990s when the District worked with UBC on applied research. What we learned was transformational. We then turned our minds to the role of green infrastructure in protecting streams from urban impacts,” stated Richard Boase, career environmental champion within local government in the Metro Vancouver region


“The UBC research team led by Hans Schreier and Ken Hall dated all these sediment cores from Burnaby Lake and extracted sediments from certain years. They identified, for example, when lead stopped being used in gasoline. They also showed how pollutants in road runoff work their way through the drainage networks and into streams where they deposit. It was an inspiring moment for me. I saw a path forward for making a difference. That was the moment when I realized why we must do a better job of erosion and sediment control,” stated Richard Boase.

Read Article

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE JOURNEY IN THE CITY OF DELTA: “Before, emphasis was on THE WHY. Now we are getting better at THE HOW,” stated Harvy Singh Takhar, Utilities Engineer with the City of Delta in Metro Vancouver


“We have done a lot of back and forth on road designs. The streetscape enhancement ideology is being implemented at the forefront rather than through a review of utilities to see whether there any drainage concerns. The road designers are taking the initiative to incorporate curb cuts and even linear rain gardens. Their understanding of the need has evolved through internal collaboration. By working with the roads people on curb cuts, we have actually come up with variations. Our original detail was quite generic. Now we are able to implement it in various types of curb designs,” stated Harvy Takhar.

Read Article

KEEP IT SIMPLE, PRACTICAL AND IMPLEMENTABLE: “When an organization is not functioning very well, you fix it one piece at a time. After that, you can finetune the pieces,” stated Pete Steblin, former City Engineer and City Manager


“It takes a decade to create a good culture in an organization. But you can destroy it in a year with the wrong political leadership. To keep it going, you must continue to do good things. It takes good ideas. But it also takes a Council that is supportive of the good ideas. And it takes money to follow through and implement those ideas. Instill a culture of continuous improvement and giving back to the community so that the community elects good, well-meaning people. It is a cycle. If you keep that cycle going, there is no end to it,” stated Pete Steblin.

Read Article

CONVENING FOR ACTION IN METRO VANCOUVER: “More than ever, we need stronger champions and people who believe in what they are doing at heart,” stated Ramin Seifi, former General Manager of engineering and planning with Langley Township in the Metro Vancouver region


“A presentation many years ago by UBC professor Patrick Condon put me on the path to integration. Patrick’s storytelling made me realize that everything we do has an effect somewhere else. What Patrick said in his presentation was eye-opening and oh so impactful,” recalled Ramin Seifi. “Patrick Condon was ahead of his time in connecting dots. He inspired me to think about HOW we could integrate departments and disciplines in order to have a holistic view of our community; and then, HOW to implement a vision that would be self-fulfilling and self-sustaining over time.”

Read Article

CONVENING FOR ACTION IN METRO VANCOUVER: “Without deep knowledge and an understanding of history, proposed courses of action may be ineffective or unimplementable,” stated Robert Hicks, a career engineer-planner in local government in the Metro Vancouver region


“Superficial understandings do not get you to the solutions for complex problems. To get to that complexity, you have to know the background, you have to know the history, you must have DEEP KNOWLEDGE. We are a stage where we have stretched systems to the point where we no longer have those big margins or safety factors that we had in the past. We are bumping up against an infrastructure shortage. Systems are maxed out to the breaking point,” stated Robert Hicks.

Read Article

CITY OF SURREY GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE JOURNEY: “There are a half-dozen people in the organization who have similar experience or expertise. I think that is part of passing the baton piece; I am able to learn from others and we can solve issues together,” stated Samantha Ward, Drainage Manager


When Carrie Baron retired as Drainage Manager in 2021, she passed the drainage baton to Samantha Ward. “I come from a different set of experiences. We all bring our past into our current role and then move forward. Other people who are new to the City of Surrey are doing the same thing. We are constantly evolving and growing in that sense. One thing that always struck me about Surrey was the forward thinking and how progressive the ideas were that were coming out. I always found it refreshing because Surrey was pushing the envelope of the day,” stated Samantha Ward.

Read Article

METRO VANCOUVER GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE JOURNEY: “What was possible in the 2000s would not be possible in the 2020s. Those who are in the front lines of local government are embattled, stretched to the limit, and under-appreciated,” stated Kim Stephens (October 2023)


“A lot of things that took place in the 2000s are the building blocks which people have forgotten. As Darrell Mussatto, former mayor of the City of North Vancouver, points out in his story behind the story, the loss of understanding in the Metro Vancouver region is real. In the 2000s, politicians and staff were aligned. This fueled political commitment to take action to achieve a shared vision. To find a path forward in these challenging times, you have to understand your oral history and frame it accordingly! Where we have landed on is risk management,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

TEAM SUNSHINE COAST: “We can all agree that water is important, that water needs to be protected, and we need to do that sooner rather than later,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish, Town of Gibsons, when he reflected on outcomes flowing from the Watershed Dialogue


“It was not just the elected leaders of the three local governments doing the talking. The stewardship sector, Squamish First Nations and provincial government were represented too. Now, as a direct outcome of the Dialogue, the Sunshine Coast Regional District is looking at creating an aquifer protection area in concert with the Town of Gibsons. A second important outcome is the building of a relationship between Town staff and the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. It was a milestone for us to collaborate with them in planning for the Watershed Dialogue,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish.

Read Article