Inter-Provincial Partnership announces that City of Edmonton is the newest Water Balance Model Partner
Note to reader:
To download a PDF version of the story below, click on British Columbia and Alberta Inter-Provincial Collaboration.
In 2008, the British Columbia Inter-Governmental Partnership (BCIGP) and Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership (ALIDP) formalized an Inter-Provincial Partnership to advance green infrastructure practices that achieve water sustainability outcomes.
The BCIGP comprises numerous local governments in four regions of BC, three provincial Ministries, and three federal agencies. In addition, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia has been a major funder and collaborator.
ALIDP is a not-for-profit group that includes different municipalities, universities, corporations and individuals working collaboratively.
The BCIGP and ALIDP had been collaborating on an informal basis since 2004. It was the Water Balance Model for Canada that brought the two provincial groups together. The Inter-Provincial Partnership also has a working relationship with the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).
“We developed the web-based Water Balance Model to help local governments make informed land use decisions; and implement affordable and effective land development strategies that both green the urban landscape and improve watershed health,” states Ted van der Gulik, BCIGP Chair. He also chairs the Inter-Provincial Partnership.
Water Balance Model Partners
A ‘Water Balance Model Partner’ is defined as a local government that has been designated as a Partner by the relevant provincial steering committee. Partners have total flexibility to customize the soils and land use databases in the Water Balance Model (WBM) to suit conditions in their jurisdictions.
“The Inter-Provincial Partnership is pleased to announce that the City of Edmonton has become a Water Balance Model Partner. This means that the four largest cities in our two provinces are partners,” states Ted van der Gulik.
“In 2002, the City of Surrey and City of Vancouver were founding members when the BCIGP was formed. In 2006, the City of Calgary became a Water Balance Model Partner.”
The mission of the Inter-Provincial Partnership is to provide land and water practitioners with the tools and experience that will enable communities to prepare for climate change, choose to live water smart, and build greener communities.
The Water Balance Model supports the over-arching policy framework that is now in place within each province.
Policy Framework – British Columbia
“In British Columbia, provincial context for application of the Water Balance Model is provided by Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan and the companion Green Communities Initiative. These provide a framework for ‘designing with nature’ and achieving settlement change in balance with ecology,” explains Richard Boase, BCIGP Co-Chair.
Living Water Smart and Green Communities are an integrated package. Living Water Smart presents the vision, and Green Communities provides local government with enabling tools to achieve the vision.
Policy Framework – Alberta
“In Alberta, provincial context is provided by the Water for Life Strategy and the Land Stewardship Act. These provide a framework for achieving a better balance between economic growth and environmental/social values,” explains Doug Marter, ALIDP Chair.
Alberta’s Land Stewardship Act is the most comprehensive land-use policy in North America. Making the seven land-use regions congruent with Alberta’s major watersheds is a significant breakthrough that will allow Albertans to integrate air, land and water policies as never before.
Below, representatives of the four cities provide their perspectives on what the Water Balance Model means to them and how they envision the tool being applied.
City of Vancouver
“The WBM team, and associated roadshow events, have done an outstanding job of raising awareness and building capacity amongst planning and design professionals,” states the City of Vancouver’s David Desrochers. He is the Manager, Sewers & Drainage Design.
“The City of Vancouver is proud to have contributed to the ‘working with nature’ philosophy and applying the principles of the WBM to the City’s Olympic Village project. Furthermore, we are looking forward to the success of the East Fraserlands development as it will become the largest site application of the WBM in the City of Vancouver.”
City of Surrey
“From the start, the City of Surrey has been a strong supporter of the Water Balance Model. We see it is an important tool to better meet our watershed specific goals for rainwater management and environmental protection,” adds Remi Dube, Acting Development Services Manager with the City of Surrey. He is also a founding member of the BCIGP steering committee.
“Because applicants can clearly measure the benefits of mitigation and compare them to watershed specific objectives at the earliest possible stages of site planning, we believe the Water Balance Model improves our success in orchestrating sound sustainability strategies, resulting in healthier watersheds for the future.”
City of Calgary
“The City of Calgary is a regional leader in sustainable stormwater management and Low Impact Development,” continues Liliana Bozic, of the City of Calgary. She is also ALIDP Vice-Chair.
“Primary goals of the City’s Stormwater Strategy are reducing rainwater runoff volumes and peak flow rates, controlling sediment loadings, and developing cost-effective and sustainable rainwater/stormwater management solutions that will work with our climate and soils.”
“Low Impact Development strategies are now incorporated in most new and redevelopment areas within the City; and rainwater volume reduction targets are developed for all critical watersheds.”
“The City is a co-founder of the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership, and has been a Water Balance Model partner since 2006. The WBM powered by QUALHYMO is an important tool in our LID toolbox; one that we can use to meet our watershed targets and ensure long-term sustainability of our environment.”
City of Edmonton
“The City of Edmonton is one of the founding members of the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership,” states Dr. Lyndon Gyurek of the City of Edmonton. Dr. Gyurek is Senior Environmental Engineer in Environmental Planning, Drainage Services. He is also ALIDP Treasurer.
“The process of evolving current design practices for neighbourhoods, roadways, and the minor/major drainage system to manage the total volume – in addition to the peak rate of urban runoff – requires tools for planning and engineered site design. The WBM is one such tool that can help City land use, transportation, drainage and park planners to develop integrated urban design plans at the higher-level or watershed scale.”
“And for the neighbourhood and lot-level scale, the City is excited to be advancing the science of LID design by developing in 2010 its own suite of LID design guidelines and manuals specific to Edmonton’s climate and soil conditions.”
About the Water Balance Model for Canada
The Water Balance Model (WBM) is a scenario modelling and decision support tool that is accessible to multiple levels of users who have a wide range of technical backgrounds, from hydrology experts to stewardship groups.
The WBM allows comparison of multiple scenarios of watershed condition using historical climate data. This supports the design of communities that have no net impact on stream environments. The WBM web interface is powered by the QUALHYMO engine which does the hydrologic and hydraulic calculations.
In November 2009, the Inter-Provincial Partnership (IPP) released its road map document titled The Plan for the Future. The IPP is proceeding with implementation of a $500,000 program over a 3-year period to expand the capabilities of the WBM.
“Our vision and our goal in constantly improving the WBM is to serve an ever widening range of user sophistication and problem-solving capabilities. Among the many enhancements that will be implemented over the next three years are capabilities not currently available in commercial software,” states Ted van der Gulik.
“Our immediate priority in promoting use of the WBM is to provide a bridge between engineering and planning that ultimately influences the greening of the built environment.”
Premier’s Award for Innovation & Excellence
In February 2009, the ‘Water Balance Model for British Columbia’ received a Premier’s Award for Innovation & Excellence at a dinner hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell. Award finalists told their stories in a series of professionally made 2-minute videos, with the storyline for each video built around a visual metaphor.
“The Water Balance Model is a means to an end,” states Ted van der Gulik, in explaining what the visual metaphor meant to him. “The challenge that we have been posing since 2002 is this: What do we want this province to look like in 50 years and beyond?”
To view the video, click on this link to Premier’s Award recognizes the Water Balance Model for its innovation and excellence.