FLASHBACK TO 2006: Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series launched in Metro Vancouver

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Designing with Nature in BC

A decade ago, infrastructure design was in a major sea-change, and British Columbia was in the vanguard of that change. The Green Infrastructure Partnership promoted an integrated approach to land development and infrastructure servicing that addresses the need for coordinated change at different scales – that is: region, neighbourhood, site and building.

Formed in 2003, the Green Infrastructure Partnership educated stakeholders regarding the benefits of a ‘design with nature’ approach to community planning and land development.

2006 Showcasing Innovation Series

The 2006 Showcasing Innovation Series was an outcome of Consultation Workshop organized by the Green Infrastructure Partnership and hosted by the City of Surrey in May 2005. The goal of the Series was to build regional capacity through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of ‘designing with nature’. The program was launched in May 2006, and was organized as a workshop in the morning followed by field tour in the afternoon.

This format created opportunities for practitioners to network and share “how to do it” experiences on the ground. The host municipalities set the scene for the field tour by providing comprehensive and in-depth presentations.

According to Paul Ham, then the Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, “The Showcasing Innovation Series is a provincial pilot. When we talk to practitioners in local government, it doesn’t matter what the region, the message is the same…they tell us that they are too busy to communicate with their colleagues in neighbouring municipalities. Yet the irony is that there is much to learn by sharing information with each other. At the end of the day, it seems that it takes a third party to bring people together. Our intention is that the Greater Vancouver pilot will provide the inspiration for similar Showcasing Innovation Series on Vancouver Island and in the Interior.”

In October 2006, the Green Infrastructure Partnership met with the Sustainable Region Initiative Task Force, a committee of mayors chaired by Mayor Lois Jackson of Delta, to report out on the success of the Showcasing Innovation Series and seek support for program expansion to include elected officials.

Series Hosts

District of North Vancouver

The first in the series – Showcasing Innovation in North Vancouver – successfully used a lane, an arterial highway and the Maplewood community as real-life case studies that informed participants about the benefits of innovation. For the lane example, selection of porous pavement to infiltrate rainwater runoff was an outcome of an inter-departmental design charrette where the Water Balance Model was a key decision tool.2003_Richard-Boase2_120p

“The project was initiated as the result of a petition by local homeowners to Council. The homeowners envisioned a conventional paving project. It was a member of Council who asked Staff to take a second look and identify how an innovative approach could be applied to achieve environmental objectives,” reported the District’s Richard Boase.

City of Surrey

2006_Remi-Dube_City-of-Surrey_120pThe second in the series – Showcasing Innovation in Surrey – was held in June 2006 and focused on what the City of Surrey believes it can systematically accomplish on-the-ground, at a watershed scale, now and over the next 50 years by building on experience gained from the East Clayton Sustainable Community.

“The emphasis was on the approach the City is developing under the umbrella of the Fergus Creek ISMP to facilitate changes in how land is developed and/or redeveloped,” reported the City’s Remi Dube.

City of Vancouver and UBC

The third in the series – Showcasing Innovation in Vancouver and at the University of British Columbia – was held in September 2006 and featured  eco-friendly roadways that reflect a ‘design with nature’ approach to integrating rainwater runoff management and transportation design.

David Desrochers_120p“The Country Lanes Demonstration Project originated from community desire for the City to provide a more environmentally friendly and visually attractive alternative to Vancouver’s existing asphalt lanes. The initiative was further propelled by a policy directive from the City’s Corporate Management Team which encouraged staff to incorporate enhanced sustainability into all the City Operations as a way of doing business,” reported the City of Vancouver’s David Desrochers.

To Learn More:

Click on Celebrating Green Infrastructure: Summary Report on 2006 Showcasing Innovation Series to download a comprehensive document that explains the genesis of the series and how it was implemented.

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