Green Infrastructure Community-of-Practice is the online home for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, which is an initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability for British Columbia
“Commencing with a launch announcement by the BC Minister of Environment in 2005, this community-of-practice has served an important function as the home for green infrastructure in British Columbia. Originally created to support the work of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, the community-of-practice now has a dual focus in supporting two interconnected initiatives, that is: EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process: and Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery in BC, which is led by Asset Management BC,” stated Mike Tanner, Waterbucket Chair.
HOW WE CHANGE WHAT WE ARE DOING ON THE LANDSCAPE: Synthesis Report on EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems (released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, June 2022)
“In 2016, the Partnership embarked upon a 6-year program of applied research to evolve EAP through a 3-stage building blocks process of testing, refining, and mainstreaming the methodology and metrics for financial valuation of stream systems. The program involved 9 case studies and 13 local governments and yielded 19 “big ideas” or foundational concepts. The program goal was to answer the question, how much should communities budget each year for maintenance and management of stream systems,” stated Tim Pringle.
HISTORY OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The Partnership for Water Sustainability is the keeper of the GIP legacy,” stated Paul Ham, a Past-Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership
During the period 2003 through 2010, the Green Infrastructure Partnership played a prominent role in leading change and assisting with implementation of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, primarily in the Metro Vancouver region. “I see my years of chairing the GIP as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success. Our efforts a decade ago moved the state of-the-art of green infrastructure to a more mainstream level,” said Paul Ham.
FLASHBACK TO 2007: What is “Green Infrastructure”? Looking back to understand the origin, meaning and use of the term in British Columbia
In 2007, the first Beyond the Guidebook guidance document provided a clear distinction between natural and engineered green infrastructure. “Two complementary strategies can ‘green’ a community and its infrastructure: first, preserving as much as possible of the natural green infrastructure; and secondly, promoting designs that soften the footprint of development,” wrote Susan Rutherford. “Green infrastructure design is engineering design that takes a ‘design with nature’ approach, to both mitigate the potential impacts of existing and future development and growth and to provide valuable services.”
DOWNLOAD: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Moving Towards Sustainable Service Delivery in the Comox Valley” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability (May 2023)
“I am a project person. I come from a project background and am used to the stages of a project – from conception through budgeting, procurement, construction, and commissioning. It is a very structured spectrum of activities. There is a defined beginning and end. But that is not the way it is in the world of water stewardship. It is a bit like a creek. It just meanders all over the place such that you just cannot seem to get things to completion even when the process is a good one. You learn that this is what it means to be on a journey,” stated Marc Rutten.
RIPARIAN AREA REGULATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: With development of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, the Partnership for Water Sustainability honours the memory and legacy of the late Erik Karlsen who did so much for streamside protection in British Columbia
The 2014 investigation and Striking a Balance report by the BC Ombudsperson identified “significant gaps between the process the provincial government had established when the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation was enacted and the level of oversight that was actually in place.” Erik Karlsen was concerned about the Ombudsperson’s findings. In 2015, he created a matrix to explain how to integrate two foundational concepts – Daniel Pauly’s “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” and Richard Horner and Chris May’s “Road Map for Protecting Stream System Integrity” – that provide a path forward for restoring riparian integrity.
LOOKING AT GREEN ROOFS THROUGH A WATER BALANCE LENS: “In 2020, our monitoring captured the heat dome. We also had a 50-plus day drought. That was great because we were able to check how the water cavity allowed the connected green roof to stay moist, longer, and more green,” stated Harvy Takhar, Utilities Engineer with the City of Delta
Harvy Takhar is following his passion in unexpected ways. It led him down the green roof pathway to international recognition. He had an epiphany when he recognized there was a gap in green roof engineering. “The idea was to harvest the benefits of green roofs, while keeping them healthy by storing water considering most green roofs adversely affect building systems during the drought. So we added a water cavity, known as the blue roof component, that will feed the green roof portion with capillary irrigation, and it can draw water when it needs it,” says Harvy Takhar.
THE MISSION IS TO DEVELOP NEXT GENERATIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFFS: “The partnership between local governments and the MABRRI research institute at Vancouver Island University is the pilot for upscaling EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Murray Walters, Manager of Water Services, Regional District of Nanaimo
A theme dominating the news these days is the shortage of skilled, trained or qualified people. The EAP Partnership is part of the solution in the local government setting. Investing in people takes patience, commitment and time. There is no shortcut to build in-house capacity. The partners have committed to investing in youth at Vancouver Island University so that they have the understanding to apply EAP. “We are applying EAP to relatively small scale streams to illustrate its usefulness and effectiveness. The application of EAP will grow from there, I am sure,” stated Murray Walters.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS INVEST IN YOUTH AT VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY: “Partnerships with local governments and others are essential. They allow students to work on collaborative projects. Everyone benefits,” stated Graham Sakaki, Manager, Mount Arrowsmith Regional Research Institute
“There are lots of partnerships that exist for selfish reasons. But the EAP Partnership is selfless; and from all angles. It is a leap of faith for member local governments. Partnership for Water Sustainability commitment to passing the baton is unwavering. Vancouver Island University is all-in because EAP is an idea that can change the game. And students are excited to contribute to the change. Students will be creating a portfolio of professionals who they know. These are important relationships for them to make. And they are gaining important knowledge too,” stated Graham Sakaki.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Projects have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the asset management parade never ends – it is cyclic,” stated Bill Sims (Winter 2023 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)
“A key consideration is intergenerational equity. This is finding the right balance between spreading the cost of services over citizens who benefit now and in the future without burdening future generations with the inability to sustain services. It is a core responsibility of a Council – enshrined in BC’s Community Charter – to provide for the stewardship of the public assets of the community.. It’s critical to ensure we are facing the right direction. Our role is to leave our communities a better place than we found them and pass the torch to the next generation,” stated Bill Sims.
ROAD MAP FOR STREAM SYSTEM INTEGRITY: The enduring legacy of Richard Horner and Chris May is that they applied systems thinking, investigated whole systems in place, identified four limiting factors, and definitively established their order-of-priority
In the 1990s, Puget Sound research correlated land use changes with impacts on stream system condition. “So many studies manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables. We, on the other hand, investigated whole systems in place, tying together measures of the landscape, stream habitat, and aquatic life. Unless and until land development practices mimic the natural water balance, communities cannot expect to restore the biological communities within streams. Simply put, hydrology hits first and hardest,” stated Richard Horner.
CHALLENGES OF USING A PROFESSIONAL RELIANCE MODEL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: “The requirement that local governments have an Asset Management Plan addresses the disconnect between land use oversight and direct responsibility for maintenance and management of stream corridor condition,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) program
“Why do we still see policies and practices that compromise the integrity of stream corridor systems and impose a downstream financial liability upon communities? How do we change that? The 2014 investigation and Striking a Balance report by the BC Ombudsperson identified significant gaps between the process the provincial government had established when the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation was enacted and the level of oversight that was actually in place. Many of the issues remain as pressing as they were in 2014,” stated Tim Pringle.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Asset management is not new. What is new are the accounting standards around asset management and the attention being paid to a long-term financial strategy to support it,” wrote Khalie Genereaux, Deputy Director of Finance with the City of Terrace (Winter 2023 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)
“The Public Service Accounting Board. PSAB 3150 requires local governments to amortize their tangible capital assets over their expected useful life. Prior to 2009, there were no standards in place for the valuation and deterioration of the local government assets. Consequently, the funding for renewal and replacement has not always been top of mind or top priority. As many of our aging communities are seeing their assets reach the end of their useful lives, the funding portion can no longer be ignored. If it is, we could all see ourselves declaring a local state of emergency,” wrote Khalie Genereaux.
COMMUNICATION TOOLS FOR VISUALIZATION OF FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS: A clear and compelling takeaway message is that communities need annual budgets to tackle the Riparian Deficit along streams
“How concepts are explained is crucial to creating awareness, building understanding, and inspiring action through a commitment to shared responsibility to make things right. In this case, restoring riparian integrity in streamside protection zones. If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading? This is the reason the Partnership for Water Sustainability developed a set of six graphics to bring to life foundational concepts. These graphics are communication tools,” stated Kim Stephens.