The Green Infrastructure Guide: Issues, Implementation Strategies and Success Stories


Green infrastructure guide - cover (360 pixels)

The The Green Infrastructure Guide: Issues, Implementation Strategies and Success Stories provides guidance on how local governments may, using legal and policy strategies, encourage or require more sustainable infrastructure designs. It refers readers to strategies, and highlights case studies of local governments that have already taken steps to incorporate a green infrastructure approach. The focus is on implementation mechanisms, issues and barriers, and on what lessons have been learned from experiences to date.


Guide Purpose and Structure

Written by Susan Rutherford of West Coast Environmental Law, the Green Infrastructure Guide  traces some of BC’s local government experience in iSusan rutherford (120pixels)mplementing engineered green infrastructure designs. According to Susan, “The Guide’s purpose is to encourage successful designs, by reporting on what the legal and policy strategies are, what some of the implementation hurdles (and solutions) have been, and how they have been effective in achieving sustainability goals. The intent is to support the efforts of local government officials and decision-makers to green their community’s infrastructure, by sharing the tools and the collective wisdom that have been gained as a result of implementation experiences from around the province.”

The Green Infrastructure Guide is part of West Coast Environmental Law’s web-based Smart Bylaws Guide (, a resource that provides local governments and citizens with information and strategies on how to build sustainable, smart growth communities. It builds on West Coast’s ongoing work to promote legal strategies for sustainability at the community level.

The Greeen Infrastructure Guide is also a deliverable under the integrated work plan for the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The mission of the Green Infrastructure Partnership is to provide leadership and encourage others to implement ‘design with nature’ design practices and regulation province-wide. Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will need clearly defined standards.

Green infrastructure partnership - gvrd sustainability breakfast, dec 2006

“The Guide builds on, and complements, the important work of other organizations to promote water and energy sustainability. For example, the province has been vigorously promoting an integrated rainwater management approach since at least the 2002 publication of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia”, adds Susan Rutherford, “Also, the Guide has been designed to complement, not duplicate, the Green Infrastructure and Sensitive Ecosystems Bylaws Toolkit, being published by Ducks Unlimited Canada, Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia and The Wetland Stewardship Partnership. Whereas the focus of the Toolkit is on preserving the natural green infrastructure, the focus of this Guide is on implementing engineered approaches.”

The Green Infrastructure Guide notes that BC municipalities and regional districts do not always hold identical regulatory powers, due to distinctions made in the Local Government Act and the Community Charter. Guide terminology refers to “local governments” to include both municipalities and regional districts; otherwise, powers are addressed separately. The Guide is organized as follows:

  • Chapter 1 addresses governance and planning structures, to provide overarching context, direction and support for more specific green infrastructure actions;
  • Chapter 2 discusses strategies for managing rainwater as a resource;
  • Chapter 3 focuses on implementation of water conservation strategies, such as metering and reuse;
  • Chapter 4 considers strategies to support energy efficiency and waste reuse and diversion;
  • Chapter 5 discusses liability concerns associated with implementation;
  • Chapter 6 encourages monitoring and adaptive management; and
  • Chapter 7 provides concluding remarks.

In summary, the Green Infrastructure Guide builds on a body of work that has preceded it, and is designed to be used in conjunction with the range of important resources available from various organizations and government to support a sustainable approach to community development of infrastructure. The Guide does not provide legal advice, as all situations call for tailored solutions that account for the particular circumstances and context. The Guide is, however, designed to serve as a useful backdrop for conversations to take place both within and beyond the local government’s planning department and legal advisors.

“Our hope is that the Guide will provide a useful resource for the many legal and engineering solutions that can be implemented to complement a community’s project to become more sustainable”, concludes Susan Rutherford. To downolad a copy, click on this link to The Green Infrastructure Guide: Issues, Implementation Strategies and Success Stories

Design with nature - gvrd sustainability breakfast, dec 2006

Green Infrastructure Partnership

The Green Infrastructure Partnership was formed in 2003, and is a consortium of four organizations, namely:

  • British Columbia Ministry of Community Services (MCS)
  • Water Sustainability Committee of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (WSC)
  • West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation (WCEL)
  • Master Municipal Construction Documents Association (MMCD)

The four organizations share a vision of making green infrastructure practices more prevalent in communities across British Columbia. An integral part of the process is to create a picture of what the future landscape can look like. If we agree on where we wish to be in one or two generations, then we can map out the route to get there.

The Green Infrastructure Partnership is promoting an integrated approach to land development that addresses the need for coordinated change in policies, programs and practices at different scales – that is: region, neighbourhood, site and building.


Posted May 2007