What is “Green Infrastructure”? – Looking back to understand the origin, meaning and use of the term in British Columbia
“Two complementary strategies can ‘green’ a community and its infrastructure: first, preserving as much as possible of the natural green infrastructure; and secondly, promoting designs that soften the footprint of development,” wrote Susan Rutherford. “Green infrastructure design is engineering design that takes a ‘design with nature’ approach, to both mitigate the potential impacts of existing and future development and growth and to provide valuable services.”
“The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is the keeper of the GIP legacy,” observes Paul Ham, a Past-Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership
“I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success. Our efforts a decade ago moved the state of-the-art of green infrastructure to a more mainstream level,” said Paul Ham.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The title of the BC Framework is deliberate and important. The ‘function’ and responsibility of Municipal Councils and Regional Boards of Directors is Sustainable Service Delivery. The process to support decision making is Asset Management,” stated Glen Brown, Chair of the Asset Management BC Partnership Committee
“The core document for asset management for BC local governments is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’. It provides the basis for the entire asset management process for our local governments to follow. Basically, well-maintained infrastructure/assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. For any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure/asset by itself. That way-of-thinking applies to nature and the environment as well,” stated Glen Brown.
BRITISH COLUMBIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT CONDITIONS HAVE MADE THE RULES SERVE THE GOALS: At the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, Weidman foreshadowed that “adapting to climate change and reducing the impact on the environment will be conditions of receiving provincial infrastructure funding” (September 2008)
“We all work with rules. We don’t want to argue about the rules. What we really want to do is change some of the rules to create the greener, more sustainable communities that people would like. The provincial government is using infrastructure funding to encourage a ‘new business as usual’ – one results in the right type of projects – rather than taking a stick approach. The Province is leveraging its grants programs to influence changes on the ground. British Columbia is in transition,” stated Catriona Weidman when she foreshadowed how expectations would become standards for sustainable, greener communities.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Our unique training program will help local governments take it to the next level,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC, when he announced a FREE training program for local governments and First Nations (September 2020)
While BC’s local governments have made great strides in managing their assets for sustainable service delivery, there’s still a lot to be done. Moving beyond inventories and condition assessments takes time, resources, and planning. “We’ve heard from local governments and First Nations at our conferences and workshops there are still a number of barriers to fully implementing asset management as a way of doing business,” said AM BC Executive Director Wally Wells. “That’s why we’ve developed this program to provide a few different ways to help people advance their asset management practices.”
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “If Courtenay’s experience along this path is any indication, the < 4C’s: Collaboration, Capacity, Culture, and Council > can provide local governments with the foundation to achieve Sustainable Service Delivery,” wrote David Allen, City of Courtenay CAO (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Fall 2020)
“After becoming CAO of Courtenay, BC in 2013, we began exploring how to implement an AM Program at the City. Collaborating with external agencies opened our minds to thinking of AM practices in far broader terms, so that they might be applied in any community, regardless of size. We didn’t realize it, at the time, but it led to us eventually conclude that operationalizing AM would involve four separate, interconnected initiatives that would be the pathway for our journey toward Sustainable Service Delivery: The 4C’s,” wrote David Allen.
ASSET MANAGEMENT, SERVICE DELIVERY, AND THE COVID-19 VIRUS: “The job of your Mayor and Council is to provide stewardship and governance over the organization that runs your community and provides you with safe, sustainable, secure services in a predictable, cost-effective manner NO MATTER WHAT SITUATION, CHALLENGE, OR GLOBAL CRISIS ARISES,” wrote Christina Benty, former Mayor of the Town of Golden (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Summer 2020)
“You trust that you will get clean, clear, safe water seven days a week, that every time you flush your toilet it has a place to go, that your garbage and recycling are picked up in a consistent manner, and that the arena roof is not going to collapse. Your local government team has to deliver on that trust. That’s their job and their only job. Do not urge your Mayor or Council to waste their limited resources writing yet another letter or passing a benign resolution on content outside of their control,” wrote Christina Benty.
NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES: “The Ecological Accounting Process and Municipal Natural Assets Initiative are program outcomes flowing from the tireless determination of two pioneers, EAP Chair Tim Pringle and MNAI Chair Emanuel Machado, to transform how local governments in British Columbia view ecological systems and the services they provide in supporting sustainable service delivery,” wrote Kim Stephens (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Fall 2020)
“Two programs – MNAI, the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative; and EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process – are facilitating the move from awareness to action that accounts for ecological systems and services. What do you know about the EAP and MNAI missions? Do you wonder whether they are the same, or different? In the second installment of ‘Watershed Moments, the Video Trilogy Series’, EAP Chair Tim Pringle and MNAI Chair Emanuel Machado elaborate on how natural assets provide core local government services,” stated Kim Stephens.
NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES: “The Town of Gibsons has pioneered an approach to natural asset management which aligns with the mission of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. This synergy reinforces our respective efforts to change how local governments view and value ecological assets,” Kim Stephens told Mayor and Council when he presented the Town with a Champion Supporter award (September 2020)
“This award is really recognition of our staff, in particular our CAO, and the work that he and others have done in this very important area,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish. “The current Council was elected in 2018 and we are continually being educated in terms of natural assets and natural assets management. It is a true feather in the cap of the Town of Gibsons that we are getting recognition outside the community. At some point, I hope that (the Town’s accomplishments) will be recognized as strongly within the community. There is still work to be done in that area.”
DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: “The purpose of EAP is to enable local governments to establish values for the ecological services of streams and the land occupied by the stream,” states Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process (September 2020)
“Natural assets support the delivery of core local government services, while doing so much more. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is a multi-year program in British Columbia that is facilitating the move from awareness to action that accounts for ecological systems and services. What do you wonder about the EAP? In response to queries from the curious, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has prepared a 2-page downloadable resource that paints a picture of the EAP methodology in general terms. It is written to inform a high-level and introductory conversation,” stated Tim Pringle.
A GUIDE TO GREEN CHOICES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We are providing local government with the information to make better decisions,” stated Dr. Laura Tate, then representing the BC Ministry of Community & Rural Development, when she explained the matrix of Green Communities initiatives at the inaugural 2008 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series
In 2008, the Ministry of Community Development developed A Guide to Green Choices to help local governments continue the extensive work they were already doing in fostering green communities. “We have a series of initiatives within the Ministry that are integrated with other broader provincial initiatives. These are seeking to help us build green communities in our province. We all benefit from having attractive, liveable communities…with a healthy natural environment,” stated Dr. Laura Tate.
FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS FOR ENHANCEMENT AND RESTORATION OF THE NATURAL COMMONS IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: “The starting point for application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is recognition that local governments have existing tools in the form of policies and legislation for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of ecological assets within riparian corridors,” wrote Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, in the report on the application of EAP to Shelly Creek on the east coast of Vancouver Island (February 2020)
“Until now, what local governments have lacked are a pragmatic methodology for financial valuation, and meaningful metrics that go to the heart of sustainable service delivery. EAP provides metrics that enable communities to appreciate the worth of ecological assets,” stated Tim Pringle. Six foundational and cascading concepts underpin the EAP methodology and provide a mind-map. The M&M acronym is a starting point for encouraging practitioners to think holistically about the relationship between hydrology and ecology.