Making Green Choices: Opportunities for Law and Policy to Effect Change on the Ground


Surrey wbm forum -  density vs hardscape

The 2009 Surrey Forum

The City of Surrey hosted the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum on March 12, 2009. The co-sponsors for this learning event were the the Water Balance Model Inter-Governmental Partnership and the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The following challenge statement provided context for advancing a 'regional team approach':

How do we simultaneously work together as staff within a municipality and as a region AND externally with developers and other private sector players, to ensure we implement sustainable approaches to development?

The goal is to move beyond pilot projects to a watershed-based approach to achieving performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure.


Shared Responsibility

“The Forum was designed to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project Surrey wbm forum -  vince lalonde (160p)implementers,” states Vincent Lalonde, the City’s General Manager, Engineering. “We approached the program design from a shared responsibility perspective; we explored how policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to ensure responsible outcomes.”

“Each party in the process has a responsibility,” adds Susan Rutherford, who represents West Coast Environmental Law on the Green Susan rutherford (160p)Infrastructure Partnership Steering Committee. “So, we facilitated a discussion of the respective responsibilities involved in implementing a vision, as well as a discussion of what each person's experience has to tell us about which tool – legal, policy or otherwise – is appropriate for holding each party accountable. In this way, we gained understanding of what works well and what could work better.”

“What tools work in which context? What are the legal tools and what are the challenges, and which legal tool makes the most sense for getting the job done?”

“What do you want to say to each other – the other parties in this joint endeavour of community development – about who has ‘dropped the ball’ in what process. What is (not) working?”

“Have you turned your mind to how this might work more effectively to achieve results? What bylaws, policies, procedures or other tools can you imagine would make this work better?”

“There are solutions to be found, if the different parties/ departments/ local governments and regions simply talk to each other about how they could all work together more effectively, using law reform or other process changes as tools,” concludes Susan Rutherford.

Surrey wbm forum -  all the players


Responsibility Matrix Explained

The Surrey Forum introduced the framework for a Responsibility Matrix that regulators, developers and designers would be able to use as a decision support tool.

To view the set of PowerPoint slides prepared by Susan Rutherford to provide the frame-of-reference for a town hall sharing session, click on Opportunities for Law & Policy to Effect Change on the Ground. To hear what Susan Rutherford had to say when she opened the town hall sharing session, click on Shared Responsibility to link to the YouTube video (8 minutes). 

To learn more about Shared Responsibility, click on SURREY FORUM STORY #2: Making Green Choices: Opportunities for Law and Policy to Effect Change on the Ground.

Surrey wbm forum -  responsibility matrix


The Story of the Surrey Forum

The Surrey Forum is a first step in advancing a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure that will align local actions in Metro Vancouver with provincial goals as stated in Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan

Leading up to the Forum, a set of five stories was published on the Water Bucket website to progressively connect the dots and foreshadow what participants would learn. To access links to these stories, click on Living Water Smart and Making Green Choices in the Metro Vancouver Region.

For the complete story on what transpired at the Forum, click on Convening for Action in Metro Vancouver: Moving Beyond Pilot Projects to a Broader Watersheds Objectives Approach.

Surrey wbm forum - metro van aerial


Posted May 2009