British Columbia’s Bill 27: Opportunities and Strategies for Green Action by Local Governments
Context for Green Action
In May 2008, the “Green Communities” legislation known as Bill 27 amended the Local Government Act and Community Charter. In June 2009, West Coast Environmental Law released a discussion paper titled Bill 27: Opportunities and Strategies for Green Action by BC Local Governments.
Written by West Coast Staff Counsel, Susan Rutherford, the paper is intended to contribute to the discussion on how local governments may build more sustainable communities, and specifically, is designed to provide “…analysis and practical guidance regarding how local governments may use the legal tools available to advance green initiatives.”
“The focus is Bill 27, new powers extended under it, and how that power may be used to strengthen sustainability efforts,” states Susan Rutherford.
Achieving Green Action Objectives
The West Coast paper is organized by four Green Action topics [which] are:
- Global Warming Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and Energy Reduction;
- Climate Change Adaptation;
- Water Sustainability; and
- Sustainable Land Use.
Under each topic, the paper discusses New Requirements and New Opportunities, as well as Strategies for overcoming challenges and making the best use of the powers for achieving each of the Green Action objectives.
“The paper discusses a variety of legal tools, including development permit area guidelines,” explains Susan Rutherford. “This is especially relevant to the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series because the development permit tool has been identified as a means to advance the regional team approach.”
“Local governments are now empowered to designate a development permit area having the purpose of the establishment of objectives to promote (among other things) water conservation.”
To download a copy of the West Coast publication, click on Bill 27: Opportunities and Strategies for Green Action by BC Local Governments.
New Opportunity for Water Sustainability Action
The paper examines the new statutory authority for development permits in light of water conservation objectives and asks, “…what sort of water conservation actions might be sought using development permit guidelines?” In the paper, Rutherford writes that the following guidelines might be considered, amongst others:
- Establishment of a water conservation target to compare to “business as usual” water use (and leave it up to the proponent to determine how to meet the target using proven technologies or strategies);
- Landscaping using xeriscaping principles;
- Requirement to landscape with trees, to retain moisture;
- Mandatory disconnection of roof leaders and use of rainwater collection systems to capture rain and reuse it for outside watering or irrigation (at minimum);
- Installation of equipment and infrastructure for reuse of treated water (“purple pipe”) on a neighbourhood scale;
- Grey water reuse encouraged;
- Green infrastructure features (i.e., reduce impermeable surfaces, increase infiltration) to encourage recharge of water table and mitigate the urban heat island effect.
“A compatible policy initiative would be to promote adoption by the region of an ecosystem-based approach to watershed planning and establishment of watershed targets, with guidance that would be linked,” concludes Susan Rutherford.
Posted September 2009