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Showcasing of Green Infrastructure Innovation in British Columbia

RAIN GARDEN INNOVATION: “Delta implemented an integrated design team with Sarah Howie as the landscape architect, a design engineer and drafting staff to work with local stream keepers. Engineering operations staff provided in-field installation and implementation expertise,” stated Hugh Fraser, retired Deputy Director of Engineering, City of Delta


Shared responsibility is a foundation piece for Delta’s rain garden program. “Everyone in the process, students, designers, managers and constructors, must understand and care about the big-picture goal. This requires an ongoing educational process that instills an ethic. This is a team effort. Nothing would have happened without all working together and continuing to work together. Creating a watershed health legacy will ultimately depend on how well we are able to achieve rain water management improvements on both public and private sides of a watershed,” stated Hugh Fraser.

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FLASHBACK TO 2006: “Vancouver’s Green Streets Program for streetscape enhancement began in 1994 as a pilot project in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The success of the project inspired other neighbourhoods to get involved and liven up their streets,” stated David Desrochers when the City of Vancouver and UBC co-hosted the third event in the pilot program for ‘Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Metro Vancouver Region’


David Desrochers is the visionary engineer who provided the driving force for the City of Vancouver’s initiatives in implementing both Country Lanes and Crown Street. “Yes, I am one who pushes the envelope in advocating new ways of building streets and lanes”, admitted Desrochers in 2006, “But I could not have made either Crown Street or Country Lanes happen without the strong support and commitment of Don Brynildsen, the City’s Assistant City Engineer.”

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE CITY OF NANAIMO: The Inland Kenworth story was incorporated in the curriculum for the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series because it illustrated how a local government can establish expectations when staff say “this is what we want to achieve”


The Inland Kenworth truck and heavy equipment facility in the City of Nanaimo illustrates what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality challenges a development proponent to be innovative. “As a planner, I believe we should start by looking at site constraints and opportunities. And that is where our conversations started with the developer and consultants team,” stated Gary Noble. The City viewed this project as the one that changed the thinking of the consulting community.

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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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