East Clayton Sustainable Community: Lessons Learned On-the-Ground in Surrey, British Columbia
The 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 morning part of the program dealt with the nuts-and-bolts of Surrey green infrastructure projects. The program was designed to encourage a lively exchange of perspectives by designers, developers and regulators.
Lessons Learned in East Clayton
The 250-hectare neighbourhood of East Clayton in Surrey was designated as ‘urban’ in 1996, setting the stage for an unprecedented new neighbourhood plan to increase residential density, promote social cohesion and maximize affordability and walkability.
“A decade ago, the driver for innovation was the need to protect the downstream agricultural lowlands from flooding that would otherwise have resulted from the increase in annual rainwater runoff as the formerly rural East Clayton was converted to intensively urbanized residential development,” stated Remi Dubé , Drainage Planning Manager with the City of Surrey.
The East Clayton story was presented in two parts. First David Hislop provided the sustainability context. Then Jim Dumont reviewed the implementation experience for private and public rainfall capture systems, and reflected on lessons learned. To view their respective presentation slides, first click on The Story of East Clayton and then click on Lessons Learned at East Clayton.
To hear what David had to say and be entertained, first click on Part 1 – Why a Sustainable Community in East Clayton & What are the Sustainability Principles?; and then click on Part 2 – Lessons We Have Learned. To hear what Jim had to say on the performance aspects of 'sustainable drainage', click on this link to What the Models Show & Overcoming Implementation Challenges.
The Neighbourhood Plan
Different housing zones were created, each with guidelines on lot configurations, including widths and setbacks, allowing developers to choose the housing mix. A ‘special residential’ category was included that allows small-scale businesses to be combined with residential units. Sixty per cent of the lots were to have rear lane access for cars, which allows property owners to build secondary units at the rear.
What East Clayton Looks Like
“The City and others certainly learned a lot from the East Clayton experience; and we have applied the lessons learned and adapted our approach in order to do business differently in Campbell Heights, Grandview Heights, South Newton, etc,” explained Remi Dubé.
“In addition to design and construction issues, the City also learned some lessons from a site development perspective. An unintended consequence was the higher than expected percentage of hardscape. With a different approach to built-form, we could have had both higher density and substantially more green space.” This is illustrated by the following comparison. On the left is what East Clayton looks like; on the right is what it might have been:
Water Balance Model Application
East Clayton was one of the first test applications of the water balance methodology. The 'new' Water Balance Model incorporates the breakthrough in modelling approach that had its genesis in East Clayton.
The Story of the Surrey Forum
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.
“The Forum was designed to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project 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.”
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.
Posted June 2009