Green Infrastructure Partnership launches ‘Topsoil Primer Set’ at Bowker Creek Forum
Note to Readers:
On February 23, 2010, the Bowker Creek Forum in Victoria will celebrate urban watershed management successes in the Georgia Basin, and will be the venue for the formal launch of the Topsoil Law and Policy and Technical Primer Set.
Developed by the Green Infrastructure Partnership, the 'Topsoil Primer Set' synthesizes the pioneering experience of the City of Courtenay, City of Surrey and District of North Vancouver. It is a critically important first step in developing a suite of practical ‘green’ tools.
Leading up to the Forum, a set of four stories progressively foreshadow and/or elaborate on what will be covered at the Forum. The following article about the 'Topsoil Primer Set' is extracted from Story #2. To learn more, click on Set of “Forum Preview Stories” establish expectations for 2010 Bowker Creek Forum.
To download copies of the two Primers, click on A Law and Policy Primer for Municipal Staff and Designers and Technical Primer for Municipal Staff and Designers.
Watershed Protection and Landscape Restoration
The decision to develop the Topsoil Law and Policy / Technical Primer Set was an outcome of the 2009 Surrey Water Balance Model Forum. The source of inspiration was the story told by Ken Anderson, a major developer who has a long-term commitment to the Morgan Heights development area in Surrey.
“The Topsoil Primer Set will help advance a new culture for watershed protection and landscape restoration on both sides of the Georgia Basin,” observes Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. “By linking the Primer Set to the Bowker Creek Blueprint, this will give other local governments the confidence to make a similar big picture commitment to a 100-year action plan.”
Establishing Clear Expectations
In the Morgan Heights development area, 'cash compliance' ensures that homeowners and builders understand what 'shared responsibility' means on the ground.
“The key message about the Morgan Heights development is that the developer has taken responsibility to make rainfall capture happen on the lots that he has developed. He is holding securities for landscaping and sediment control; and that money is not released until after the houses are built,” reports Rémi Dubé, Acting Development Services Manager with the City of Surrey.
It Makes Good Business Sense
At the time of lot sale, Ken Anderson provides the homeowner and builder with a laminated two-page set of instructions. This explicitly lays out what he expects on the site and on the street. “This requires a lot of hands-on attention and consistent enforcement to ensure consistent compliance,” stated Ken Anderson at the Surrey Forum.
To read the complete story about Ken Anderson and access a YouTube video where he describes why “it makes good business sense”, click on Enforcement of topsoil requirement for rainfall capture at Morgan Heights in the City of Surrey.
Provincial Launch at Bowker Forum
“When the organizing team debriefed afterwards, it was evident that we were all impressed and inspired by Ken Anderson’s story. This was a defining moment. It was the genesis for the Topsoil Primer Set,” recalls Kim Stephens.
“We realized there could be a benefit to providing municipal staff and the professional design community with a succinct statement of all of the legal, policy and technical ‘essential elements’ necessary to successfully implement a specific green infrastructure objective.”
“The Topsoil Primer set is the fruit of that idea, and the first in what we hope will become a series of Primers,” adds Susan Rutherford, Legal Counsel with the West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation.
Inter-Regional & Inter-Municipal Collaboration
The Topsoil Primer set reflects and incorporates the experience and lessons learned by the City of Surrey, the City of Courtenay and the District of North Vancouver in pioneering implementation of absorbent landscape policies and requirements.
Susan Rutherford and Remi Dube are the co-leads for the topsoil initiative. Susan synthesized the experience of the three participating municipalities to create the Law & Policy Primer. Remi was responsible for the Technical Primer.
From Policy Objective to Implementation
“My expectation is that the Forum will serve as an opportunity for people to talk about moving from vision to action on water goals, and how to link the practical steps with the policy tools to get people there,” states Susan Rutherford.
“My hope is that the discussion of the Topsoil Law and Policy / Technical Primer Set will assist in that endeavour by being one documented example of the kind of concerted planning, thinking and action that is needed to move from a green infrastructure objective to implementation on the ground.”
Previous Water Bucket Story:
To learn more and read the First Announcement by the Green Infrastructure Partnership, click on Topsoil: Just How Do You Obtain a Performing Topsoil Layer, to Advance Rainwater Management and Water Conservation Goals? —- Green Infrastructure Partnership develops primers to provide municipal staff and designers with a starting point for law, policy and technical decisions
Posted February 2010