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Showcasing of Green Infrastructure Innovation in British Columbia

CREATING OUR FUTURE IN THE METRO VANCOUVER REGION: “Today, what we as leaders do, will resound for the people of the future, their cities and their regions. In fact, for the world at large,” stated the City of Delta’s Lois Jackson, currently a Councillor and formerly the Mayor, when she reflected on her five decades of public service in local government and why it matters to ‘make a difference’ as a champion for ‘design with nature’ infrastructure practices (June 2020)


“One of the reasons that I ran for office in 1972 was ‘to make a difference’…. a difference to the children and their families of the future. But we are not the only ones sharing this planet, and what we do on a daily basis, can impact positively or negatively having a resounding effect and rippling effect of which we must be aware. We must all be leaders who selflessly have a vision, and we must then act to make the vision a reality, because air, water and continents are interconnected and if you can dream it — you can do it,” stated Lois Jackson.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION: “As cities venture into unfamiliar territory, fear of public embarrassment and fear of unfamiliar maintenance obligations may scuttle worthy projects – and that’s where committed volunteer groups can ease the way forward,” observes Deborah Jones, Rain Gardens Coordinator, Cougar Creek Streamkeepers in the City of Delta in British Columbia’s Metro Vancouver region (June 2020)


“When any project is seen as ‘The City’, residents are quick to criticize or complain, elected officials are quick to pass these complaints to staff and staff are quick to ‘backpedal’ — especially if a project is a departure from past practice. No surprise, then, that many municipal officials and staff across all jurisdictions are subject to fear of public embarrassment in relation to rain gardens. By contrast, when rain garden projects are seen as ‘volunteer streamkeepers and school kids’, residents are more willing to cut us some slack if there are issues at the outset,” stated Deborah Jones.

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: “Practitioners in local government are not necessarily aware when they are being innovative and are not often aware of innovation in other municipalities,” stated John Finnie, CAVI Chair, at the launch event in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Series on Vancouver Island


“The CAVI vision for Vancouver Island is catching on. There is increasing interest,” stated John Finnie. “We believe a key to the success of CAVI is that we are talking to people, not preaching at them. Our approach is to inform and educate. We do this by creating situations for people to have conversations. The CAVI role is to plant seeds and start the conversations that will lead to action. We are encouraging people to move from conversations to dialogue, and to learn from the experience of each other.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: “The ingredients for success include passion and a willingness to take a vision and make it happen,” stated Rob Lawrance, City of Nanaimo Environmental Planner, at the launch event in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Series on Vancouver Island


In 2007, Rob Lawrance set the context and introduced the unifying themes for the three City of Nanaimo presentations. In setting the context, he also elaborated on what is involved in finding the right ‘balance’ to make things happen on the ground. “It’s all about people, and most of all, it’s about involving the right people at the start,” stated Rob Lawrance. He identified four tools that are enabling City staff to drive green infrastructure innovation in Nanaimo.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “The structure is set up to support good ideas of an integrated nature so that staff can flourish in the work environment,” stated Stephen Richardson, the Township’s Director of Development Services


“Anticipating and responding to growth requires nimbleness on our part,” stated Stephen Richardson. “Technical teams input to long-range planning. There is a constant feedback loop. We raise the bar each time through an iterative process. This strengthens standards of practice. The continual enhancements are reflected in our neighbourhood plans. It is a team approach. Staff share and learn from each other.”

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Our integrated process results in a better community. In turn, this attracts people who want to be here,” stated Dave Cocking, Manager of the Township’s Green Infrastructure Services Department


“The infrastructure we build today is integrated. We recognize that each part is a component of the whole. We strive to make all the parts work together without compromising any component,” stated Dave Cocking. “Working together, we are solving community design issues. We have a shared goal – improve the community and provide amenities. This requires integrated thinking.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2003: “Home Depot established a BC precedent when it implemented a deep deep-well system for injecting rainwater runoff,” stated Kevin Lagan, formerly Director of Operational Services with the City of Courtenay


“In 2003, the Home Depot development application in the City of Courtenay was to build a store and parking lot covering 90% of a four hectare second growth coniferous forest property,” stated Kevin Lagan. “The City required that post-development rainwater and stormwater flows leaving the site were equal to or less than the pre-development flows. For this property that was effectively zero.”

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“A presentation many years ago by Patrick Condon put me on the path to integration. Patrick’s storytelling made me realize that everything we do has an effect somewhere else,” says Ramin Seifi, General Manager, Engineering & Community Development, Township of Langley


“When the previous General Manager of Engineering retired in 2011, our Chief Administrative Officer listened when I presented the case for doing both jobs – Engineering and Community Development,” stated Ramin Seifi. “The Township needed more integration to respond to the demands on infrastructure and the risks to the environment resulting from rapid population growth. Achieving integration depended on the Township having a better structure.”

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A focus on Green Infrastructure Services embeds ‘green culture’, spurs innovation, in the Township of Langley


For the past decade, Township staff have been learning and adapting, and their hands-on experience is reflected in HOW implementation of Langley’s rain garden program has evolved in successive development areas. “We are learning by doing. In this way, we refine expectations for the finished product. The designs are more refined and the level of coordination for rain garden design and construction has improved,” explained Yolanda Yeung.

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