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Law and Policy Tools

CREATE SAFE CITIES FOR SALMON: “Inadequate statutory foundations and enforcement of current regulations have only hindered the implementation of nature-based solutions to protect salmon in cities. There must also be increased clarity and communication from the top to ensure these regulatory requirements are understood and effectively implemented,” stated Andrea McDonald, author of the joint research study by the Pacific Water Research Centre and the Salmon-Safe BC team (May 2021)


“Protection of salmon and their habitat from the adverse impacts of urban development is a challenging task that requires an all-of-government response. Findings from this research highlight the variable involvement and guidance provided from the higher levels of government in Canada. As one expert noted, the province must provide more clarity on direct regulatory obligations which have compliance initiatives in place to enforce them,” stated Andrea McDonald. “Providing opportunities for the public to be more engaged and educated on the subject can offer that bottom-up pressure necessary for more rapid-paced change in local governments.”

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INTER-GENERATIONAL COLLABORATION: “In a representative democracy, politicians can only lead where people are prepared to follow,” stated Joan Sawicki, a former Speaker of the BC Legislative Assembly and Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks during the period 1991 through 2001


“Voters often send mixed messages. While it is perfectly legitimate to hold politicians’ “feet to the fire”, there is some justification to do the reverse as well! It is sometimes too convenient to blame politicians for the short term thinking hole that we are in. If we truly want our governments to shift from short-term to longer term thinking, as voters we must then be prepared to support – and re-elect – those politicians who bring in such policies and legislation, even if those initiatives negatively impact us personally today ” stated Joan Sawicki.

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION: “NYC, Vancouver, Sydney, Auckland, Copenhagen and Amsterdam present differing narratives toward pluvial flooding. Vancouver has embraced an image of environmental friendliness and constructs a narrative of rainfall management full of ‘green’ improvements,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD candidate, University of Venice (January 2021)


“As a geographer researching urban environments, I really enjoy focusing on where scientific environmental research meets urban policy. In developed cities, decades and centuries of urban growth have led to a jigsaw puzzle of urban infrastructure. Storm drainage systems are ageing, built at different times to different standards, and often follow political boundaries not drainage basins. With climate change stressing these systems, it is all the more urgent to understand how to design with nature to prevent rapid runoff,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN AUSTRALIA: “We should spend less on freeways – and more on our waterways,” wrote Bruce Lindsay, Environmental Justice Australia


“Contemporary urban planning bolts waterway protections onto new suburbs or the refitting of older ones. Water-sensitive development provides for nice water features in local landscapes. Overwhelmingly, however, waterways remain incidental in the urban landscape, if not simply drains then as local ‘amenity’. Waterways are not viewed at the core of development models. They could provide the base for recovery of biodiversity, or a project of rewilding places – and people. This is what we need,” wrote Bruce Lindsay.

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FLASHBACK TO 2004: City of Courtenay established a precedent when it was the first BC municipality to adopt and implement a ‘Soil Depth Policy’ for rainwater management


The policy was adopted in January 2004 immediately after the City became a founding member of the Water Balance Model Partnership. The requirement was included in the Official Community Plan. “Because the City places importance on the soil sponge as a rainwater management tool, we explored options to ensure that developers and house builders fulfil their obligations to provide and preserve the minimum required depth,” stated Sandy Pridmore.

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The Green Infrastructure Guide: Issues, Implementation Strategies and Success Stories


The Green Infrastructure Guide is an invaluable reference document for those who embrace a ‘design with nature’ philosophy. “The Guide’s purpose is to encourage successful designs, by reporting on what the legal and policy strategies are, what some of the implementation hurdles (and solutions) have been, and how they have been effective in achieving sustainability goals,” wrote Susan Rutherford.

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Sustainable Watershed Systems: New California law recognizes meadows, streams as green infrastructure


“It’s a major shift in the way we think about conservation — nature isn’t just ‘nice to have’ but an absolutely critical piece of our water infrastructure systems,” said Genevieve Bennett. “There are hundreds of communities all over the world who understood that years ago, and started figuring out how to make sure they were protecting their water sources. And now we’re starting to see that concept making its way into higher-level policy.”

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Watershed Health: game-changers enable local government action in BC


“Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: Ministry of Community Development Circular informed BC local governments about ‘Beyond the Guidebook’


“Beyond the Guidebook supports and/or complements other provincial initiatives, notably: Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Project. Collectively, these initiatives establish expectations that, in turn, will influence the form and function of the built environment in general and green infrastructure on the ground in particular,” wrote Glen Brown.

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: At Water Balance Model Partners Forum, the BC Ministry of Environment’s Peter Law introduced “Develop with Care” to a Metro Vancouver audience


“Decisions related to urban and rural land development in this province are shared by many; therefore, this document is intended to support and encourage good decision making by all those involved in land development in British Columbia. Develop with Care emphasizes the use of the Water Balance Model to achieve desired rainwater management outcomes”, stated Peter Law.

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