The Corporation of Delta hosts first in “2007 Showcasing Innovation Series”



Showcasing innovation - july 2007 

The event theme for celebrating Green Infrastructure is “Greener Developments, Roadside Rainwater Management, and the Urban Forest”

The Green Infrastructure Partnership has announced that The Corporation of Delta will host the first event in a series of three events that comprise Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in Greater Vancouver: The 2007 Series.  The Delta event will be on Friday, September 21.  For more information on the series, please click here.

Paul ham (120pixels)According to Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, “The Corporation of Delta will showcase how progress towards sustainability on-the-ground is being made incrementally through small steps. Changes in standard municipal practices that are being implemented today will ripple through time and result in cumulative benefits.”

“The Delta Showcasing focus will be our new Sustainable Template for Development, the use of municipal right-of-ways to infiltrate rainwater, and the importance of the urban forest”, explains Hugh Fraser, Deputy Director of Engineering with The Corporation of Delta, “We see every new construction project as an opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment.”


Scope of Delta Program

On September 21, there will be a reporting out of Delta’s new Climate Change Initiative and Sustainable Template policy.  Presentations will focus on a case study implementation of the Sustainable Template for Development, landscape-based solutions to rainwater management, a community-driven rain garden project, and an update on Delta’s pledge to plant 20,100 trees by 2010.  For program and registration details, please click on this link to download Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in The Corporation of Delta.

“This is an opportune time for Delta with respect to sustainable practices given growing community awareness”, notes Ian Radnidge, Director of Engineering for Delta, “Our new Climate Change Initiative, endorsed by Council on July 16, 2007, sets out a strategy to reduce Delta’s vulnerability and contribution to climate change through a series of individual action plans, the format of which is unique amongst municipalities.  The action plans focus on reducing energy consumption and waste generation, adaptation strategies, and education programs.” 

Kim stephens (120pixels)The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is the umbrella for the Showcasing Innovation Series. According to Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Action Plan, “It is exciting to see how local governments are responding to the Showcasing Innovation Series. This program enables local governments to tell their stories in a way that no other forum provides.” Stephens will be the Moderator for the morning session.

In Delta, the site tour in the afternoon will feature a variety of roadside swale and rain garden projects, a stop at the new Delsom subdivision development, and a narrow strip of land between two highways that has been planted with thousands of trees.

The Delta event is an inter-disciplinary effort as three departments are collaborating to provide program content, namely: Engineering; Community Planning & Development; and Parks, Recreation & Culture.


Showcasing Innovation Builds Capacity

The purpose of the Showcasing Innovation Series is to celebrate… and build on…the on-the-ground successes that are enhancing the ways communities are being developed and water is being managed.

“Practitioners in local government do want to learn from those who are innovating, and they do want to visit projects that are precedent-setting,” observes Paul Ham, “They just need a starting point and a push to get the ball rolling.”

The goal is to promote networking, build regional capacity, and move ‘from awareness to action’ — through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of designing with nature, according to Kim Stephens.


The Delsom Development: A Case Study for the Sustainable Template

1Delta - sunstone signDelsom Estates comprises 100 acres of land, most of which was a former gravel pit.  The lands represent the largest tract of undeveloped land in North Delta outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve. 

Sunstone Community at Delsom will be a mixed use, pedestrian friendly community situated on 40 hectares of land, which will include approximately 178 single family lots, 602 townhouses, a private amenity building, 70 seniors’ independent living apartments, a neighbourhood commercial centre, park areas and a pathway system.

Marcy Sangret, Environmental and Agricultural Planning Manager, will present the Delsom topic.  The site, which will be under construction at the time of the workshop, will be one of the stops during the afternoon tour.

Many Smart Growth principles have been incorporated into this plan including mixed land uses, diverse housing opportunities and sustainable infrastructure such as an integrated rainwater management system and geothermal heating technology. Moreover, 15% of the site is designated as parks and open space. The approved Master Plan provides for:

  • Integration of new and existing developments;
  • Preservation of key features of the site, including tree stands, rights-of-ways and an enhanced pond;
  • Enhancement of pedestrian and cyclist connections through the site;
  • A central park with trail linkages;
  • Retail and personal services within walking distance;
  • Diversity in housing types and
  • Use of friendly architecture with porches and verandas

 “From the inception of the redevelopment project, sustainability was a first principle.“ recalls Marcy Sangret, “Delta staff initiated a “checklist” of environmental, social and economic sustainability elements that they wished to be considered as part of the redevelopment of the lands into a mixed use community.”  As the project evolved, so did the checklist, which became a key tool in tracking progress toward meeting sustainability objectives and in reporting this progress to Council and the public.  This presentation will describe how this approach worked and how planning staff intend to use it as a template for other large and small development projects.


Cougar Canyon Rain Garden: A Community Project

Located at an elementary school opposite Cougar Canyon Environmental Reserve, this site has a direct impact on the quality of Delta’s primary salmon-bearing stream.  The entire school population was involved in the creation of this garden, which infiltrates rainwater runoff from the school parking lot. 

2Delta - group scene

Sarah Howie and Deborah Jones will co-present the Cougar Canyon story in order to provide the planning/design and community outreach perspectives, respectively. Deborah Jones is well-known in North Delta as the “Ditch Lady” and was the instigator for turning drainage into a landscape feature in Delta. She and her husband received an environmental award from the BC Society of Landscape Architects for their community work.

3Delta - sarah howieAccording to Sarah Howie, a landscape designer with Delta, “It’s easy to be proud of this project.  Working with Deborah Jones and the other Streamkeeper volunteers was invaluable; their energy and interest in creating the garden is what made it possible.  This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when municipalities work closely with community groups.”

7Delta - deborah jones (160pixels)Every student enrolled in the 2006/2007 school year at Cougar Canyon Elementary School was involved in the creation of the rain garden.  Each class participated in a presentation to teach students how a rain garden functions and why the school’s garden is important to Cougar Creek.  Then, every student took a plant out to the garden, in the midst of a memorable November rainstorm, and carefully placed their plant in the garden. 

Students from the high school next door also lent a hand, planting the larger shrubs that were too heavy for the smaller children.  The students are proud of their accomplishment and there is a very strong sense of ownership here.

The garden contains largely native plants, and all of the plantings are drought tolerant.  Shrubs were chosen for their flowers and wildlife value.  Many of the plants produce flowers during the school year, even in winter, so the students and the community can enjoy the garden year-round. 4Delta-Cougar canyon rain garden


The Urban Forest:  Planning for Climate Change

5Delta_gatewayThe Corporation of Delta is a leader in bringing the best professional arborists and urban foresters together to enhance urban forestry in a vital environmental community.

 “We need to leave a sustainable legacy in light of the 2010 Olympics, and that legacy needs to include planting thousands of trees.”  Ken Kuntz, Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture for Delta. With the guidance of Nancy McLean, Landscape Coordinator/Senior Planner, Delta has set a goal to plant 20,100 trees by the year 2010. This workshop will outline the guiding principles behind the planting program.

  • How has the municipality acquired new trees to achieve its goals?
  • How can other organizations follow Delta’s lead in education for staff, professionals, and the community?
  • How does Delta select trees to mitigate pollution and climate change?
  • And how can you inspire your community to engage in donation and volunteer programs to support your Urban Forest?

Nancy McLean and Frank Van Manen, Delta’s Urban Forestry Foreman, will answer these questions and co-present the planning and implementation strategies that led to Delta’s successful Urban Forestry Program.

Most of the planting projects have involved community and agency support, volunteers, and donations from local businesses. The work of Nicole Stefanelli and her Urban Impact Recycling company will be reviewed, and the leap from plan to action (planting 500 trees in a Tsawwassen park and another 3,000 trees along a major highway) will be examined.

Delta’s development bylaws support planting trees that will provide the greatest environmental benefits by mitigating rainwater runoff, reducing pollution, and reducing the urban heat island effect. “Large trees are vital to the urban landscape,” recommends Frank Van Manen. Where there are no overhead restrictions, every effort should be made to plant trees that will attain a large size at maturity.”

Delta’s urban trees are a success story because of political and community support. Everyone has taken an interest. “These community projects are successful on several levels,” explains Nancy McLean. “It’s very rewarding to see businesses and residents caring about their neighbourhoods and actively taking part in improving the local ecology. As well as the obvious learning that comes with such projects, the kids involved, in particular, take away the message that they have the ability to change their environment for the better.”

6Delta-tree planting


It’s all about the soil

“Soil volume is becoming a key issue as the climate changes,“ notes Frank Van Manen.  “The trees that become most stressed and challenged to survive will be those growing in limited supplies of quality growing medium.” 

Van Manen stresses that no-one should be cost-cutting, at the soil level, when it comes to providing for new landscapes and boulevards.  “This is truly where the greatest challenge will appear”, explains Van Manen, “Extending the life of new and existing landscapes will depend on whether or not they have an optimum mineral soil volume in which to develop and mature.  The ability of a soil to absorb and retain moisture for optimum plant growth will become paramount to determining landscape success.  Only then can we reasonably say we have been successful in providing real, and meaningful, carbon sinks.”


What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Vocabulary

There is a plethora of ‘green’ vocabulary that we now hear on a daily basis. To develop a common understanding plus help advance a new way-of-thinking about land development, the Green Infrastructure Partnership is promoting use of the following hierarchy of ‘green’ vocabulary:

  • Green Value means land use strategies will accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which communities depend. At the heart of a Green Valueapproach is the valuation methodology that provides the business case for reconciliation of short-term versus long-term thinking related to risk and profit.
  • Design with Nature is one approach to achieve Green Value, and is supportive of community goals that relate to building social capacity.Design with nature (320pixels)
  • Green Infrastructure is the on-the-ground application of Design with Naturestandards and practices.
  • Water Sustainability is achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.

This cascading vocabulary was unveiled at the Creating Our Future Workshop that was held in conjunction with the Gaining Ground Summit in Victoria in June 2007. The Creating Our Future Workshop was a consultation opportunity for Vancouver Island local governments that are interested in implementing infrastructure practices and regulation that result in green value.


Green Infrastructure Explained

Green infrastructure is associated with the management of water that runs off the land and how water runoff impacts on the sustainability of both terrestrial and aquatic habitat and resources.

Green infrastructure is also associated with how water is used and how water use impacts on the sustainability of water supply.

Kim stephens (60pixels)“Desired outcomes for water sustainability and green infrastructure can be achieved through infrastructure standards that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water”, explains Kim Stephens.

 What bc could look like (with border)


Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

Water sustainability action plan, july 2007 (200pixels)The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, and the Action Plan elements are being delivered through partnerships, one of which is the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The Action Plan provides a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning and development. .

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 - logo (may2007 version)

Posted August 2007