Water-centric development at the University of British Columbia informs Metro Vancouver Reference Panel
Sustainable Region Vision
Appointed by the Metro Vancouver Regional Board in April 2008 to provide independent review and recommendations on the Liquid Waste Management Plan update, the Liquid Waste Management Reference Panel is a community advisory group that brings expert knowledge and relevant experience in liquid waste/resource and rainwater management.
“The strategies and actions in the Liquid Waste Management Plan will have an impact on Metro Vancouver’s sustainability for generations to come,” observes Kim Stephens, Reference Panel Chair. “Hence, it is important to link those actions to a picture of a desired outcome that will inspire people to strive for constant improvement – this is what we want our region to look like, and this is how we will get there.”
“Decisions we make on the built environment have a direct impact on the health of the natural environment,” states Elaine Golds, a non-governmental organization representative on the Reference Panel, in commenting on the interconnection between planning, regulation and decision-making. “The health of our waterways and the value of our streams and our oceans to our community are of primary importance not only to our quality of life, but also to our social and economic health. By aiming to improve our environment we are aiming to undo damage already done.”
The Goal: Improve the Natural Environment
The Reference Panel has identified five theme areas that it believes must be integrated if Metro Vancouver is to shift from the current practice of managing waste to one that values all its resources; these theme areas are: Natural Environment, Built Environment, Sewage Treatment, Financing and Implementation. As part of the process of completing its due diligence regarding strategies and actions in the Draft Plan, the Reference Panel has visited Metro Vancouver sewage treatment plants and green developments at the University of British Columbia, at Southeast False Creek, and at several locations within the City of Vancouver.
Leading by Example at UBC
In April 2009, the Reference Panel toured three projects at the University of British Columbia where innovative approaches and designs have been implemented:
– the Choi Green Building,
– Sustainability Street, and
– the South Campus Neighbourhood.
These projects provided the Reference Panel with insights regarding what can be achieved by implementing water-centric green infrastructure at three scales: site, street and neighbourhood.
According to UBC’s David Grigg, “Sustainability Street at UBC Vancouver introduces a new kind of street smart to the world. The formerly non-descript thoroughfare of Stores Road, on the UBC campus, has been transformed into a visually appealing pedestrian-oriented promenade. It is also a practical demonstration of new approaches to managing waste, energy and water in an urban environment.”
South Campus Neigbourhood
“The neighbourhood plan for the northeast area of the South Campus is for a sustainable community with both rental and market housing, a commercial area, community centre, school, playing fields, parks and public open space,” David Grigg explained. “Sustainable strategies have been adopted for land use, rainwater retention, green roofs, landscape features and vegetation, park layout, vehicular and pedestrian routes, acess to public transport, building siting and orientation, building materials and infrastructure.”