MANAGING THE IMPACTS OF URBANIZATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE: “To scale up our response to climate change requires a concerted, connected and collaborative approach to finding a way to work together towards identifying solutions and taking action,” stated Dr. Joanna Ashworth, Simon Fraser University
“Simon Fraser University has been advancing the implementation of green infrastructure at the municipal level through an interdisciplinary approach combining community-engaged teaching, research and outreach. Building on what we have collectively learned, in 2021 we launched a new 12-week online course. We designed the course to have appeal and applicability for professionals from diverse disciplines, especially those seeking to understand green infrastructure’s potential for managing the impacts of urbanization and climate change,” stated Joanna Ashworth.
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.”
HOW VANCOUVER IS PROTECTING ITSELF FROM FLOODING: “In the old days, it was ‘scoop the water up and send it down these pipes.’ Now, with climate change, we have to restore these old systems,” said Melina Scholefield, the City of Vancouver’s manager of green infrastructure implementation
Vancouver’s narrative over the past two decades has often hinged on densification — how to manage the rise of dull grey towers framed by distant green mountains. But with every megaton of carbon dioxide belched into the atmosphere, the risk of rising seas and increasingly heavy rainfall has pushed the region toward letting more of that forest creep back into the city. Known as “green infrastructure,” the idea is to simulate a natural water cycle wiped out from decades of city building. “We know how to design it,” said Scholefield. “What we’re aimed at now is making it mainstream.”
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.”
DOCKSIDE GREEN, WORLD’S GREENEST NEIGHBOURHOOD: “Do we have the intelligence and will to impel change? Can convention be busted open again to develop sustainably? This book encourages sustainable change agents to make fundamental, systemic change. Please go implement. Now,” urges Kim Fowler, author of Dockside Green, the story of the world’s most sustainable development
“At Dockside Green, a ‘sandbox’ development concept was created instead of a ‘straitjacket’ conventional approach. This was achieved by setting the basic requirements for site redevelopment while still providing flexibility to promote innovation and competition in the land sale process. Traditional zoning was deemed to be a ‘straitjacket’ containing far too detailed and prescriptive land use and design. It would have destroyed competition and innovation,” stated Kim Fowler.
DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Millstone River in the Regional District of Nanaimo, completed in March 2021
“The EAP methodology reflects the understanding that landowners adjacent to the stream corridor and setback zone and the broader community share responsibility for and benefit from the condition of the stream as well as the financial and ecological value of the land it occupies. The report suggests a general framework for local governments to consider in using the lens of ecological accounting within Corporate Asset Management Plans,” stated Julie Pisani.
REPORT ON: “Millstone River – A Natural Commons in the Regional District of Nanaimo: Operationalizing the Ecological Accounting Process for Financial Valuation of Stream Corridor Systems within an Asset Management Plan” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released March 2021)
“The Millstone project provided the RDN, the City of Nanaimo and local stewardship group Island Waters Fly Fishers with the opportunity to get a real measure that accounts for the value and worth of the Millstone River stream corridor in asset management planning. They now have the numbers to make the case for M&M (maintenance and management) of the Millstone. The Millstone River EAP project has provided the RDN with a path forward so that it could account for and operationalize M&M of stream corridor systems across the region,” stated Kim Stephens.
ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “It is ironic that we began breathing life, meaning and more serious resources into the long-term management of our physical assets as soon as they began reaching ‘end-of-life’,” stated Diane Kalen-Sukra, former Chief Administrative Officer of Salmo, in an article published in the Winter 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter
“We had the same late awakening with natural assets – overlooking them until our physical infrastructure was exposed as vulnerable to climate change and tight budgets highlighted the cost effectiveness and resilience of natural assets like aquifers and wetlands. These natural gifts we had unconsciously relied upon are now being evaluated and ascribed a dollar value. Perhaps once this work is done, we will realize again, that we are all heavily invested,” stated Diane Kalen-Sukra.
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.
APPLICATION OF BC’S FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “There are many considerations in a local government’s budget every year. The questions asked should revolve around service and risk. Are you asking the right questions?” – Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC
“Asset Management BC has a program initiative underway to operationalize asset management. We have selected a cohort of seven local governments and First Nations communities in different regions. These are demonstration applications and cover a range of situations along the Asset Management Continuum. The understanding gained from this process will inform evolution and application of the BC Framework. We have asked each participating government to identify a barrier to sustainable service delivery. We are working our way through a process with each one to overcome that specific barrier,” stated Wally Wells.