Green Infrastructure Innovation in BC: Celebrating successes on both sides of the Georgia Basin


Green Infrastructure Innovation: Celebrating On-the-Ground Successes on Both Sides of the Georgia Basin

In November 2007, the Capital Regional District  hosted a full-day workshop titled Bio/Infiltration: Tools for Rainwater Management. Organized under the umbrella of the Stormwater, Harbours and Watersheds Program, the workshop emphasis was on municipal implementation, particularly funding, bylaws and other tools available to municipalities to work towards innovative rainwater management.

The workshop featured case studies from both sides of the Georgia Basin, thereby facilitating a sharing of experiences. The concluding presentation by Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, tied together the ideas from the day by integrating the following key thoughts:

  • Where we want to go
  • Where we need to go
  • How to get there
  • CAVI and Province Perspectives

CRD 3 - kim stephens (160p)To address these four items, Kim’s presentation was structured in three parts. First, he described the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series  that was held in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island in 2007. Then he provided an overview of CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island . And finally, Kim summarized the Province’s perspective by presenting material that Chris Jensen of the Ministry of Community Services had presented at the Beyond the Guidebook Seminar  the week before the CRD workshop.

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, click on Rainwater Management in the Georgia Basin: Capital Regional District workshop celebrates on-the-ground successes.

To download a copy of the presentation by Kim Stephens, click on this link to Green Infrastructure Innovation: Celebrating On-the-Ground Successes on Both Sides of the Georgia Basin.

From Stormwater Management to Rainwater Management

Kim Stephens prefaced his remarks by providing his perspective on why rainwater management is replacing stormwater management  in the practitioners’ vocabulary.

“When I graduated from university in 1973, we called it drainage. Then in the mid-1970s the term stormwater management appeared in the literature,” explained Stephens, “As far as I can determine, this terminology originated with the ‘pipe guys’ who were primarily concerned with making the distinction between sanitary and storm flows in combined sewer systems.”

“Lately, I have observed that the term rainwater management resonates with non-engineers and the community at large. They intuitively get it,” Kim continued, “The presentations by Paul de Greeff and Lehna Malmkvist really brought home the point that rainwater management is about integration and an interdisciplinary approach that is landscape-based, and therefore goes well beyond the narrow engineering definition for conventional stormwater management.”

Kim observed that a Vancouver Island inter-agency team has been formed to promote the landscape-based approach because rainwater management is at the heart of green infrastructure.

Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation

The projected growth of the Georgia Basin bio-region and resulting cumulative impacts are drivers for reassessing how land is developed and water is used. To promote a new way-of-thinking related to infrastructure policies and practices, the Green Infrastructure Partnership developed and promoted regional Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series. The 2007 Vancouver Island Series  was organized in collaboration with CAVI.

According to Kim Stephens, “The goal in showcasing innovation and celebrating successes was to promote networking, build regional capacity, and move ‘from awareness to action’ – through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of designing with nature.”

Each Vancouver Island event was co-hosted by a regional district and one or more of its member municipalities. Each event comprised presentations in the morning and a tour of project sites in the afternoon. Each event was unique.

CAVI – Leadership in Water Sustainability

CAVI is a grassroots, collective partnership committed to achieving settlement in balance with ecology, beginning with water-centric planning. CAVI has produced a brochure titled CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Leadership in Water Sustainability .

CAVI is a regional pilot that is being implemented under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia . The CAVI vision is that by 2010, Vancouver Island will be well on its way to achieving water sustainability.

The purpose of CAVI is to provide leadership, coordination, research and education for practitioners (primarily local government administrators, engineers, planners and elected persons) to plan for management of sustainable water resources in the context of future settlement activity.

According to Kim Stephens, “The CAVI leadership believes that Water Sustainability will be achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.”

The Province’s Perspective

Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, the Green Infrastructure Partnership began the roll-out of Beyond the Guidebook  in June 2007. Because the Green Infrastructure Partnership includes the Ministry of Community Services and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the seminar that was held the week before the CRD workshop provided a timely opportunity to inform local government and land use practitioners regarding the emerging policy framework and senior government expectations for applying a Beyond the Guidebook approach to land development and watershed management.

Beyond the Guidebook refers to a runoff-based approach to drainage modeling that connects the dots between source control evaluation and stream health assessment. In a nutshell, it means this is ‘where science meets analysis’ because runoff volume management is directly linked to stream erosion and water quality.

Today, the Province’s grant program guides provide direction and the associated evaluation criteria support green projects. Tomorrow grant conditions will be used to bring some recipients up to a certain “green” standard; and down the road meeting a “green” standard will be a requirement for grant eligibility.