City of Nanaimo Hosts Water Balance Model Session on 'Sustainable Drainage'
Three provincial Ministries and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have formed a Vancouver Island Coordinating Team to facilitate a consistent, science-based approach to rainwater management on Vancouver Island. The team is moving forward with an outreach program that involves meeting with local governments to generate dialogue and build bridges. The first two information sharing sessions on ‘sustainable drainage’ were hosted by the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the City of Nanaimo in December 2006 and February 2007, respectively.
According to Chris Jensen (Ministry of Community Services), Co-Chair of the Water Balance Model VI Coordinating Team, “The theme for these sessions with local government is captured by the phrase ‘seek to understand’. We start by asking where are you now in terms of your approach to rainwater management, and where would you like to go in the future? By shining the spotlight on their needs, the conversation becomes one of how you can help us help you.” Jensen identified three desired outcomes at the start of the session:
- Establish how the Vancouver Island Team can help the City implement a more sustainable approach to rainwater management.
- Learn by example: Inform the City of on-the-ground successes in the West Coast region.
- Identify the City’s key obstacles to ‘designing with nature’.
The session with the City of Nanaimo was initiated by the City’s Development Services Department because of a desire to learn more about what other local governments are doing to implement sustainable drainage practices. The City identified a set of questions to frame the discussion, including:
- What are the specific types of rainwater management tools and source controls that can be used for the design of new subdivisions and building projects consistent with the water balance way-of-thinking?
- What are the maintenance implications?
- What are some west coast examples where the tools and source controls have been used?
- How has public policy evolved to incorporate the use of the water balance model?
According to the City’s Rob Lawrence, Environmental Planner in the Community Planning Division, “The roundtable discussion was definitely helpful. I believe that it is the start of a dialogue that the City will wish to continue. We now have a much better understanding of who is doing what in other municipalities.”
“It was an interesting mix of planners and engineers”, observed Peter Law (Ministry of Environment), “This provided a range of perspectives, from community planning to on-the-ground utility maintenance. Roundtable sessions like this are essential for building understanding.”
Tim Pringle, Executive Director of the Real Estate Foundation of British Coulmbia, also participated in the information sharing session. “The Foundation is partnering with the Province and others to provide local governments and the development community with the tools and experience that will help them design with nature“, added Pringle.
Posted February 2007