Green Infrastructure message resonates with British Columbia engineers


Seattle1 - beyond the guidebook

Released in June 2007, “Beyond the Guidebook” refers to a runoff-based approach to drainage modeling that connects the dots between source control evaluation and stream health assessment. In a nutshell, it means this is ‘where science meets analysis' because runoff volume management is directly linked to stream erosion and water quality.


Beyond the Guidebook Seminar:

Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,  the Green Infrastructure Partnership recently rolled out Beyond the Guidebook at a Vancouver seminar. Because the Green Infrastructure Partnership includes the Ministry of Community Services and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, this provided a timely opportunity to inform local government and land use practitioners regarding the emerging policy framework and senior government expectations for applying a Beyond the Guidebook approach to land development and watershed management..

The seminar was structured in three parts to deal with the Why, What and How in going Beyond the Guidebook. Links to the set of PowerPoint presentations are listed below.

The seminar also enabled the Green Infrastructure Partnership to report out on provincially funded programs and tools that are being developed and implemented through partnerships, with notable examples being the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series and the Water Balance Model powered by QUALHYMO. In addition, the City of Surrey created a knowledge-transfer group exercise based on the Fergus Creek watershed plan, which is the provincial pilot for Beyond the Guidebook. The purpose of the exercise was to engage practitioners so that they would focus on the practical aspects of implementiing changes in land development practices.

To download a copy of the agenda, please click on this link to Seminar Program; and to download a copy of the program objectives, please click on this link to Seminar Learning Outcomes.


Province-wide Audience:

“The response by the engineering community and others was overwhelming, and came as a welcome surprise,” reports Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership .

Attendance was capped at 72 and there was a waiting list.  “We were at capacity two weeks before the event. If we had the option to switch to a larger venue, we would have filled it,” adds Kim Stephens, the seminar moderator and the Program Coordinator for the Action Plan,

“We squeezed as many people as we could into the room,” continues Stephens, “Clearly, there is a strong practitioner interest in learning more about rainwater management and green infrastructure, and understanding the emerging regulatory framework.”

Although the majority of attendees came from Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the seminar attracted a province-wide audience. There was a large contingent from Vancouver Island. Attendees also came from as far away as Prince George and the Okanagan.


APEGC1 - group scene


Part A (Why) – Green Infrastructure Innovation: On-the-Ground Successes

The learning outcome for Part A was that participants would be able to express why showcasing on-the-ground successes will help chnage the way we develop land and manage rainwater runoff.


Part B (What) – Beyond the Guidebook: Applying What We Have Learned to Protect Stream Health

The learning outcome for Part B was that participants would be able to express why there is a shift in thinking from single-function stormwater management to integrated and comprehensive rainwater management.

Part C (How) – A Pilot for Beyond the Guidebook: City of Surrey’s Fergus Creek Watershed Plan

The learning outcome for Part C was that participants would be able to express how green infrastructure policies and practices can be successfully implemented at the site scale to protect stream health at the watershed scale. Part C was organized as a 'mini-charrette', and participants worked in groups to resolve 'how to do it' implementation issues related to four (re)development scenarios.

  • Jim Dumont set the stage with a presentation titled Fergus Creek Analysis: Technical Findings . His objective was to provide the breakout groups with a basic understanding of the considerations shaping the rainfall-runoff modelling and how this correlates with stream health.
  • Remi Dube (City of Surrey) then outlined the 'rules of engagement' for the breakout session with a presentation titled Fergus Creek Watershed: Opportunities & Constraints. His objective was to provide an understanding of how to apply Jim Dumont's engineering findings to the land development scenarios.

    APEGBC13 - remi dube & jim dumont (320p)

  • After the breakout groups reported out, Jim Dumont wrapped up by explaining the strategy actually adopted by the City of Surrey: The Strategy Selected for Fergus Creek

APEGBC9 - fergus planning areas (360p)

For more information on the Fergus Creek pilot, please click on Showcasing Innovation in Surrey which was  the second event in the 2006 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series.



Breakout Group (Charrette) Session:

The audience primarily comprised engineers (about 80%), with a sprinking of planners and biologists to provide an interdisciplinary mix in the charrette segment.

“Having engineers do a plannning exercise was brilliant,” observed Carolyn Drugge of the City of Vancouver's Engineering Department, “It was fun and inspirational to be part of the process.”

“I never thought I would see the day when a group of engineers would actually say we need a planner,” added Darcey Kohuch, Director of Engineering for the District of Sooke, “But that is what happened in our breakout group when we were trying to think like planners in doling the land use planning for our development scenario.”

The plenary session was facilitated by Karen Rothe of the Ministry of Community Services.


APEGBC10 - breakout groups

APEGBC2 - breakout group

APEGBC4 - breakout groups

APEGBC6 - breakout group led by richard boase

APEGBC7 - breakout group led by corino salomi

APEGBC8 - breakout group led by paul ham

APEGBC9 - breakout group led by david desrochers

APEGBC14 - breakout group led by carolyn drugge

APEGBC3 - plenary session

APEGBC20 - karen rothe


A Transformational Event?

Kim Stephens provided this perspective on what he believes was accomplished by the seminar: “We started the day with high expectations that the Beyond the Guidebook Seminar would prove to be a transformational event, and we exceeded those expectations as the day unfolded. Further, my prediction is that this event will become part of our green infrastructure folklore, much as the 2005 REAC Consultation Workshop and the 1997 Union of BC Municipalities focus group workshop  were defining moments in moving British Columbia down a pathway that led to the Beyond the Guidebook Seminar.”

“It is the telling of the story about an event that takes on importance in moving practitioners  from talk to action,” added Stephens, “A key is that those who were there come away inspired and start doing things differently in their day jobs as a result of what they learned by being part of the moment.”


Posted November 2007