Tag:

climate emergency

    POLICIES, DECISIONS, AND RAINFALL INDUCED FLOODING IN CITIES: “Communication is king. As urban decision making brings in more voices, and climate change becomes less of an abstract future but a present-day reality, it is imperative for policy to understand what the different perspectives are and how to weigh their importance,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in the Science and Management of Climate Change (March 2022)


    “One of the main takeaways from my doctoral work is there is still a lot of disagreements in communication throughout this decision-making process. Within policy itself, there is a disconnect between the way the problem of stormwater adaptation is framed theoretically versus perceived in reality. Theoretically, there is a large focus on adaptation. However, in my research I found that many of those involved in policy still place a higher importance on the political limitations of policy making and the economic costs of project management.,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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    HISTORY OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “When we formed the GIP in 2003, green infrastructure was an emerging concept. The paradigm-shift that then occurred during Paul Ham’s watch far exceeds our original expectation that the partnership would be a catalyst for change,” stated Chuck Gale, Founding Chair (2003-2004), Green Infrastructure Partnership


    A confluence of events and circumstances brought a mix of key players together in 2003. It was a teachable year because of the impact of drought, forest fires and floods on public consciousness. Chuck Gale as chair brought instant credibility to the GIP. When he retired from local government, Chuck Gale recruited Paul Ham, General Manager of Engineering with the City of Surrey, to succeed him. Paul further elevated the GIP profile because Surrey was seen to be at the forefront of green infrastructure innovation.

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    DESIGN WITH NATURE TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “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 Lois Jackson, former Board Chair of the Metro Vancouver Regional District, in her call for action (February 2022)


    “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. One of the reasons that I ran for office in 1972, and why I served for 20 years as Mayor of Delta, and 7 years at Chair of Metro Vancouver was ‘to make a difference’. One of the first things I did when I became Mayor in 1999 was to introduce our community to caring about of our air, land and water. Many were opposed to this position. But we persevered and, as a result, I believe we have set a good example for stewardship,” stated Lois Jackson.

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    HISTORY OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “At the 2005 consultation workshop, Greater Vancouver municipalities told us that they wanted to hear firsthand from those who are implementing green infrastructure, and they want to see what it looks like. In response to this need, 2006 was the first year of the Showcasing Innovation Series,” stated Paul Ham, Chair (2005-2008) Green Infrastructure Partnership


    “The goal of the Showcasing Innovation Series was to build regional capacity through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of ‘designing with nature’. The series was a building block process — each time the objective was to raise the bar when celebrating successes in Greater Vancouver municipalities. The 2006 Series was a provincial pilot. There is much to learn by sharing information with each other. At the end of the day, it seems that it takes a third party to bring people together,” recalled Paul Ham.

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    RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: “The sponge city concept marks a transformative change of China’s water management from the engineering-oriented paradigm to a more holistic and nature-based approach, which aims to strengthen the sustainability of the urban water cycle,” wrote Genevieve Donnellon-May, researcher with the Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore (January 2022)


    “Sponge cities, an integrated grey-blue-green solution for urban water management, are considered a paradigm shift for sustainable urban planning and management in China. Sponge cities seek to reduce the impact of urban surface-water flooding, water shortages, and the consequences of rapid urbanization by promoting water security, water environmental protection, and water ecological restoration. This concept is influenced by the ancient Chinese concept of human-nature harmony,” stated Genevieve Donnellon-May.

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    SHARED RESPONSIBILITY EXPLAINED: “Policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to implement green infrastructure solutions and ensure responsible outcomes. Each party in the process has a responsibility,” stated Susan Rutherford, former Legal Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law, during capacity-building presentations delivered under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in the first decade of the 2000s


    “If someone says something is not working – that barriers prevent success – then our challenge for them is: Think about what would make it work, and what are you going to do to make that alignment of goals happen? Our theme is ‘imagine’. Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there. What this underlines is that we are all interconnected – our actions influence whether others will succeed, and our own achievement of goals is influenced by how we’re supported,” stated Susan Rutherford.

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    ADAPTING ASSET MANAGEMENT TO CLIMATE REALITIES: “Climate change impacts are risks which can be addressed by aligning asset lifecycles to performance or change thresholds which consider how levels-of-service are likely to deteriorate in response to climate changes impacts. Lifecycles must therefore be considered and re-aligned with the new changing ‘normal’ conditions,” stated Robert Hicks, Senior Policy and Process Engineer, City of Vancouver (November 2021)


    A constant challenge for planning is not to prevent past events, but instead is to use past experiences to inform and create flexible strategies for the present and the future. Furthermore, this need for flexibility is not restricted to the immediate scope of the problem at hand; but must also consider the broader juggling of evolving local government priorities and service demands This leads to the challenge of assessing problems with sufficient complexity to arrive at flexible and resilient solutions. while at the same time not being overwhelmed and paralyzed by over-analysis,” stated Robert Hicks.

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    COMMUNICATING WITH PLAIN LANGUAGE IS A GUIDING PRINCIPLE: “What I am trying to discover in my thesis is what are the existing trends in urban stormwater policy within developed cities. One area I am particularly interested in is communication, or the lack thereof,” stated Charles Axelesson, PhD candidate, University of Venice


    “A lot of fantastic studies are misinterpreted outside of scientific circles because the language, style and meaning of science writing is very different to non-specialists. With climate change studies, this can lead to a serious disconnect between climate change policy and the supporting research. With other stakeholders also invested in management, good policy is reliant on strong communication of everyone’s interests. I am trying to take these competing voices and understand how these groups’ visions of future stormwater management differ from each other,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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    RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: Could ‘Sponge Cities’ Help Us Prepare For Our Flooded Future?


    “Extreme weather, a changing climate, and impervious streets and roads have combined to create an urban disaster. All of this has seen cities begin to re-imagine their relationship with water. Rather than just designing systems that allow the water to drain away slowly and stably, they want to harvest and reuse it. This approach to urban design – where water is held in place to be called-upon when needed – is known as the ‘sponge city’, and it is rapidly growing in popularity,” stated Laurie Winkless.

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    DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY AND MANAGING RISK: “Climate change impacts are risks which can be addressed by aligning asset lifecycles to performance or change thresholds which consider how levels-of-service are likely to deteriorate in response to climate changes impacts,” stated Robert Hicks (Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter)


    “If we look at the variability in climate change impact scenarios that may occur within many asset lifecycles, we may get distracted by the uncertainty and statistical variance of the magnitude among the anticipated changes for key parameters that inform levels-of-service. Another way to consider this variance and uncertainty is to consider the time-range that a key performance threshold might be reached. For asset management, the consideration is how and when assets might be compromised in their lifecycle by climate change,” stated Robert Hicks.

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