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.”
DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “The Bowker Creek Initiative is a network. It is a true community-driven collaboration made up of people with a lot of heart, grit, commitment, and dedication. They are dedicated to achieving the Bowker Blueprint vision,” stated Jody Watson
Jody Watson provided inspirational leadership as chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative (BCI) for 13 years from 2005 through 2018. Without determined champions, nothing gets started and nothing happens. Champions motivate others. “The BCI represents an extensive network that includes three Councils, every department, 11 community associations, and the CRD too. We have spent 20 years of trust-building, of credibility-building. All that is part of collaboration, and that is what makes collaboration work. We had little successes and we had big successes,” stated Jody Watson
FOCUS ON THE HEALTH OF STREAM CORRIDORS: “There is a need for a new approach to hydrologic design, Jim Dumont advocated in the mid-2000s. So, Fergus Creek became the pilot,” stated Rémi Dubé, former Drainage Planning Manager with the City of Surrey
By the late 2000s, Surrey was poised to move beyond pilot projects to a broader watershed-based objectives approach. And they did as of 2008 when Council passed am enabling bylaw. From that bold leap forward emerged the framework for Surrey’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. The genesis for the strategy was the green solutions concept in the Fergus Creek plan. The innovation in the Fergus Creek plan flowed from collaboration between Surrey engineering and planning staff and with Jim Dumont, a water resource innovator and thought leader.
DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “My thinking about neighbourhood concept planning has been shaped by the look-and-feel of East Clayton as it was built compared to what we envisioned with the lofty goals for a sustainable community,” stated Rémi Dubé, a longtime green infrastructure champion and innovator with the City of Surrey
“In the 2000s, Fergus Creek was the first of the new generation of watershed plans in the City of Surrey. We wanted a plan that would actually facilitate changes in how land is developed. In other words, what the watershed will look like in future should drive the approach to rainwater management. The Fergus Creek plan introduced the vision for implementing green solutions as the alternative to conventional engineered blue solutions. And it seeded the two ideas that became Surrey’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Biodiversity DCC,” stated Rémi Dubé.
DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “The lucky part in Surrey was that the people who set the green infrastructure groundwork at the lower levels all advanced to senior levels where their duties were bigger than drainage. But they all had that base knowledge,” stated Carrie Baron, former Drainage Manager with the City of Surrey
“We cannot ignore that we had to switch strategies with provincial legislative changes. We were always trying to find out where the political and thus legislative focus was during my era as Drainage Manager, and then trying to fit our program to meet their focus. We used their language but still did what we needed for the City. At the local level, you work with the language of the day and you have to be savvy. When Surrey adopted a Sustainability Charter, it gave us the language we needed to protect environmental and drainage needs,” stated Carrie Baron.
DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “As years pass, we tend to forget or take the early innovation for granted. In Surrey, we learned and we adapted,” observes Paul Ham,former General Manager of Engineering, City of Surrey
A generation ago, Paul Ham’s quiet and unassuming leadership behind the scenes made the green infrastructure movement possible in British Columbia. As chair from 2005 through 2008, he provided the Green Infrastructure Partnership with credibility at the regional engineers table. Their support enabled the partnership to lead a “convening for action” initiative in the Lower Mainland region. The paradigm-shift during Paul Ham’s watch far exceeded expectation that the Green Infrastructure Partnership would be a catalyst for change.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Through the power and magic of collaboration, BC communities can rise to the challenge and adapt to the new climate reality of seasonal extremes,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia
“A message of hope is paramount in these times of droughts, forest fires, floods AND housing affordability as system resiliency is being stressed. Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery is essential to the solution. If done right, I see it as being at the core of Risk Management. It is a mechanism that can still be leveraged to achieve informed and superior planning for land and water. But local government politicians and staff are being overwhelmed by the issues of the day. That is their current reality. They are losing sight of the big picture,” stated Kim Stephens.
DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “We must inspire elected representatives to become champions and do the right thing,” stated Darrell Mussatto, former mayor of North Vancouver City
“Transitioning to a new council is a challenge, and always has been. We need a better way to pass along the knowledge we gained to the newly elected ones without them feeling like the old crew are still in charge. We had our time in the office. Now it is their turn to carry the baton and be the champions,” stated Darrell Mussatto. “In some situations, it may be good to have a new group of elected people come in and straighten things out if things are being done poorly. But when you lose staff continuity in a well-run municipality, that changes everything.”
SCIENCE, WATERSHED-BASED DRAINAGE PLANNING AND EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS – “EAP is thinking about more purposefully managing creeks and ponds that are integrated into our stormwater drainage infrastructure,” stated Dr. Dave Preikshot, Senior Environmental Specialist with the Municipality of North Cowichan
“EAP has a very practical application. MNC is very limited in its ability to manage agricultural land. What we are really seeking to achieve through our involvement in the EAP Partnership is an understanding of what policy options are available to us to work with the farming community. MNC is assessing ways to work with the farming community to implement riparian management changes because you really need to think in terms of the whole-system ecosystem. The stream corridor is part of a bigger story, and it is integrating that into a bigger story,” stated Dr. Dave Preikshot.
RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: “From green roofs in Toronto to Vancouver’s rain city strategy, Canadian cities are looking to become ‘sponges’ in order to help mitigate some of the effects of extreme rainfall events,” wrote Morgan Lowrie of the Canadian Press (October 2023)
“The goal is to reverse some of the harm done by decades of car-oriented urban development, which involved replacing natural spaces that soak up water with impermeable infrastructure such as roads and parking lots,” wrote Morgan Lowrie. “Green infrastructure can be incorporated into a landscape in many ways, from simple tree planting to rain gardens, swales, holding ponds and more complex bioretention systems that involve layers of filtering. Across Canada, cities appear to be jumping on board. The “sponge city” model brings multiple benefits.”
FLASHBACK TO 2007: “We will be implementing green solutions as an alternative to conventional engineered blue solutions,” stated Rémi Dubé, Drainage Planning Manager with the City of Surrey, when he explained the provincial significance of the Fergus Creek watershed plan at a cross-border conference
One of the questions addressed by a cross-border panel at a conference in 2007 was this: What lessons can Washington State and British Columbia learn from each other as they strive to minimize the impacts of rainwater/stormwater runoff? “The science-based analytical methodology that we have validated through the Fergus Creek process now enables the City of Surrey and other local governments to explore the fundamental requirements both explicit and implicit in Federal Fisheries Guidelines for stream health and environmental protection,” stated Rémi Dubé.