The Province of British Columbia’s Expectations and Programs for Green Communities
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Infrastructure Grants enable Province to influence behaviour and advance “New Business As Usual” under Green Communities Initiative
The Green Communities Initiative encompasses a number of plans and strategies that complement and/or support Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan. Examples include A Guide to Green Choices, Resources from Waste: A Guide to Integrated Resource Recovery, and Smart Planning for Communities. Conceptually, the Green Communities Project comprises four areas of activity as shown below:
Link to YouTube Video:
Click here to view a YouTube video clip of Laura Tate, Manager of Vancouver Island Growth Strategies with the Ministry of Community & Rural Development, when she explained the four pieces of the puzzle at the 2008 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series. She also describes what is in A Guide to Green Choices. “We are providing local government with the information to make better decisions,” she said.
To learn more about how the Guide will foster a green vision, recognizing that the choices will be made by local governments, click on Nature Knows No Boundaries – A Guide to Green Choices in British Columbia.
Provincial Plans & Strategies
“Living Water Smart is a provincial strategy; we must look at it as a shared responsibility,” states Glen Brown, an Executive Director with the Ministry of Community and Rural Development. “Actually, it is not one strategy; the Province has a number of strategies, including the Green Communities Initiative and the BC Climate Action Plan.. These are the visionary documents that shape the Ministry of Community and Rural Development’s grant programs; they provide us with direction as to where the Province wants to go.”
“The Province is looking at raising the bar as far as what we are trying to accomplish with standards, provincial legislation and infrastructure grant programs.”
Link to YouTube Video:
Click here to view a 10-minute YouTube video clip of Glen Brown at the Showcasing Innovation at the University of Victoria event in October 2008 when he explained how the Province is employing its infrastructure grant programs to influence green infrastructure policies and practices, and thereby facilitate change on the ground.
A Guide to Green Choices
“The Ministry of Community and Rural Development is about innovation and integration, and making it real. The other piece of importance to the Ministry is providing communities with the tools to ensure the right development in the right place at the right time,” states Karen Rothe, the Ministry’s Manager for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Growth Strategies.
“To help local governments continue the extensive work they are already doing in fostering green communities, the Ministry has developed A Guide to Green Choices to provide practical advice and ideas in making land use decisions.”
“Released in September 2008, this Guide is expected to work in tandem with many other provincial programs and projects already underway, including Living Water Smart, the BC Climate Action Plan, Smart Planning, and the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. The Guide helps to establish expectations as to what communities can or should look like,” concludes Karen Rothe.
Link to YouTube Video:
Click here to view a YouTube video clip of Karen Rothe at the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum in March 2009 when she elaborated on why the Ministry is “about innovation and integration, and making it real”.
Resources from Waste
“Integrated Resource Recovery is an approach and a set of tools for planning and managing community infrastructure to maximize the recovery of value from waste resources,” states the Ministry’s Jody Dong. “In April of 2009, the Ministry released the Resources from Waste Guide in order to assist local governments to plan and implement a wide range of IRR projects.
“Local governments can benefit from this whole-systems planning approach to infrastructure, which will help to achieve community sustainability and economic diversification,” adds Deborah Rasnick, the Ministry’s Project Director for Integrated Resource Management.
Fostering Innovation and Integration
The mandate of the Ministry of Community and Rural Development is to foster partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration through the program elements that comprise the Green Communities Project. The goal is to build capacity that will result in sustainable, healthy and vibrant communities. The continuous process for improvement is illustrated by the graphic below.
“Ultimately it is the Ministry’s grant programs that provide the incentives that enable the Province to influence behaviour; and reward those who meet program objectives for doing business differently on-the-ground,” states Glen Brown.
“The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is a partnership delivery vehicle for the Green Communities Project. Released in 2004, the Action Plan comprises inter-connected program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to better manage land and water resources.”
The New Business As Usual
“We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models and develop models of practice and expertise to support The New Business As Usual”, stated Dale Wall, Deputy Minister when he announced the launch of both the new Water Balance Model and the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series at the Gaining Ground Summit in May 2008.
Leveraging Change through Grants
“Integration of legislative goals and strategies with grant programs is achieved through the combination of Eligibility Requirements, Evaluation Criteria, and Conditionality of Contracts,” explains Glen Brown. “These three items provide the road-map for transitioning from today’s expectations to tomorrow’s standards. Over time, we are incrementally raising the bar. ”
“Conditionality of Contracts refers to what we ask local governments to do if they are successful in meeting the Eligibility Requirements and Evaluation Criteria. This is where we establish the clear link to program goals and objectives.”
Smart Planning for Communities
“Smart Planning for Communities is a new BC-wide collaborative initiative to assist local and First Nations governments in addressing their long-term sustainability challenges,” reports Susanne Theurer, Sustainability Facilitator with the Fraser Basin Council and a former local government planner. “The program recognizes that a flexible approach is needed — an approach that allows communities to build on, enhance and integrate existing planning processes while also exploring innovative tools and frameworks.”
“Rather than following a single-agency approach, Smart Planning for Communities calls for collaboration among organizations and teams of people working together to develop and implement integrated strategies for a sustainable future. The program helps to build mutually beneficial partnerships and develop an information-sharing and resource network. The result will be stronger, more vibrant and sustainable communities.”
About the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia
Sponsored by the Province of British Columbia and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the Action Plan is being delivered through partnerships and regional pilot projects and programs. Partnerships under the Action Plan umbrella include the Waterbucket Website Partnership, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI), the Green Infrastructure Partnership, and the Water Balance Model Inter-Governmental Partnership.
Through outreach and education, the guiding vision is to influence land and water practitioners to learn about and use practices that better balance the necessary relationships of settlement activity and ecological assets in local and regional landscapes.
“Under the Action Plan umbrella, the Water Sustainability Committee of the BC Water & Waste Association is the managing partner and is responsible for providing leadership, facilitation and organizational services for program delivery. The Water Sustainability Committee is a roundtable of organizations that have a specific interest or mission in implementing the Action Plan,” explains Glen Brown, Chair.
Related Stories on Water Bucket
Nature Knows No Boundaries – A Guide to Green Choices in British Columbia – posted December 2008
“Green” Legislation Supports Local Governments in British Columbia – posted June 2008
Moving from Stormwater Management to RAINwater Management: A Federal Fisheries Perspective – posted February 2008
Legal Authority to Implement Rainwater Management Solutions in British Columbia – posted September 2007
Posted July 2009