City of Langford subdivision bylaw requires 100% infiltration to achieve rainwater management objectives
Bridging Engineering and Planning
Building on the interest and momentum generated by successful series on both sides of the Georgia Basin in 2007, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI)collaborated with the Capital Regional District and the Green Infrastructure Partnership to present Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Capital Region: The 2008 Series.
The second in the series was held on September 26 and was hosted by the City of Langford in collaboration with the Westhillls Green Community. The focus of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the City of Langford was on how to create neighbourhoods that integrate both good planning and innovative engineering designs, for overall greater sustainability, that is: environmental, social and economic.
To illustrate what innovation looks like on the ground, the City elaborated on its approach to rainwater management and described lessons learned as a result of mandating on-site rainwater capture.
Learn by Doing
At the heart of the City’s approach to innovation is its corporate philosophy for managing risk, learning by doing, and adapting quickly to new information and changing circumstances. “As the Mayor has stated, a corporate culture that is willing to accept and then manage risk with regards to infrastructure standards can open the door to creativity, innovation – and its rewards. In Langford, the creative cycle starts with the Mayor – if two weeks go by without a new idea from the Mayor, we wonder why,” John Manson, City Engineer, told the Showcasing audience.
“”Langford has a tradition of adapting quickly to new information and changing circumstances. The City's new Official Community Plan, developed within a unique sub-regional planning process, is highly strategic rather than prescriptive,” adds Emilie Adin, the City's Deputy Planner. “The Official Community Plan supports Langford's vision for flexibility and rapid adaptation to new ecological and social imperatives.”
Rainwater Management in Langford
The City of Langford was an early proponent of rainwater infiltration – in fact, its Subdivision Bylaw calls for 100% on-site rainwater management. Furthermore, the Langford experience serves as a case study application of how to implement Adaptive Management as envisioned in Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.
The concepts and methodologies in the Guidebook were intended to stimulate a change in the mindset of practitioners and others, rather than cast in stone a set of prescriptive rules. The Guidebook is a pioneer application in North America of 'adaptive management' in a rainwater management setting. In the Guidebook, adaptive management means: We change direction when the science leads us to a better way.
Implicit in an adaptive management approach is recognition of the need to both accept and manage risk if the state-of-the-practice is to be advanced.
YouTube Video: It's All About Risk
To view a 5-minute YouTube video of John Manson explaining the City's creative, problem-solving approach as applied to rainwater management, click on It's All About Risk. He describes each of the five elements illustrated on the graphic below.
“The City is prepared to take risks, and we have a development community that is open to new ideas. We will often suggest pilot projects when we are not sure about the risks or the consequences. We are not afraid to make the odd mistake ….because the corporate philosophy recognizes that being innovative includes an experimentation factor. We strive for 95% successful implementation; and we just keep adjusting to deal with the 5% exceptions,” stated John Manson.
YouTube Video: Rainwater Infiltration – Lessons Learned
John Manson provided examples to illustrate the City's experience in requiring that rainwater runoff be returned to ground by means of on-site infiltration. To view a 10-minute video on YouTube, click on 100%on-site infiltration is required. In the video, John elaborates on the installations shown below as well as other examples from the comprehensive presentation titled Langford's Approach: A New Standard for Development in the West Shore.
Previous story about the Langford experience
Click on the following link to a previous story on Water Bucket about a November 2007 presentation by John Manson. Delivered at a Rainwater Management Workshop organized by the Capital Regional District, his presentation was titled: City of Langford Rainwater Management: Managing Risk…Learning by Doing… Adapting…
The workshop featured case studies from both sides of the Georgia Basin, thereby facilitating a sharing of experiences. To read the complete story, click on Rainwater Management in the Georgia Basin: Capital Regional District workshop celebrates on-the-ground successes.
Posted July 2009