British Columbia's "Topsoil Technical Primer" – Bowker Creek Forum in Victoria was the venue for the provincial launch


On February 23, 2010, the Bowker Creek Forum in Victoria celebrated urban watershed management successes in the Georgia Basin, and was the venue for the formal release of the Topsoil Law and Policy and Technical Primer Set.

Bowker creek forum - audience


Inter-Municipal Collaboration

Developed by the Green Infrastructure Partnership, the ‘Topsoil  Primer Set’ synthesizes the pioneering experience of the City of Courtenay, City of Surrey and District of North Vancouver. To download copies of the two Primers, click on:

Susan Rutherford of West Coast Environmental Law and Rémi Dubé of the City of Surrey were the co-leads for the topsoil initiative. Rémi was responsible for the Technical Primer.

Topsoil technical primer - cover (360p)

Watershed-Based Approach Provides Context for Primer

Rémi Dubé is the Acting Development Services Manager with the City of Surrey. He opened his part of the presentation by explaining why Surrey became involved in developing the Topsoil Primer Set.

Stream Stewardship

Remi dube - january 2010 (120p)“Streams pretty well cover the entire city. Most of Surrey’s watercourses are open, and there is a reason for that,” stated Rémi. “We have an historical legacy. It is our Natural Drainage Policy from the 1970s. This policy involves using our watercourses as part of our drainage system.”

“Stream stewardship is quite important to Surrey. There is a strong stewardship presence; and that helps us move in a direction to protect our watercourses. People get quite involved in protecting the natural environment. This enabled us to move away from piped solutions to understanding natural processes.”

“At the end of the day, we want to understand the watershed. That is the key to developing any kind of strategy.”

Bowker forum - surrey watershed-based approach

Where Does the Primer Fit In?

“Each of our Integrated Stormwater Management Plans recommends an enhanced topsoil depth. We thought this would be easy; we volunteered to help develop the Topsoil Primer Set.”

“We had a few projects where we went back after implementation to find that the topsoil was not there. The topsoil requirement was in the guidelines. The topsoil should have been there. Obviously something went wrong along the way.”

“So we knew we had to look back at what we had done in the past; and develop a strategy so that we get what we ask for in future projects.”

Bowker forum - where does the primer fit in


To Learn More

A series of stories published on the Water Bucket website tells the story of the development, launching and application of the Topsoil Primer Set. To access them, click on “Topsoil Primer Set” connects the dots between rainwater management and drought management

Links to YouTube Videos

To view a set of video clips of Rémi Dubé telling the story of the Topsoil Technical Primer, click on these links:

  1. Watershed Understanding(1:47)
  2. Where Does the Primer Fit In(1:35)
  3. What is Topsoil(1:49)
  4. Areas of Responsibility(1:34)
  5. Development Challenges(1:19)
  6. An Example of Developer Commitment(1:53)
  7. Summary of Key Messages (1:11)

Each video clip corresponds to a specific slide in a PowerPoint presentation by Rémi Dubé.

Link to Slideshow


To  download a copy of Remi’s slides, click on Just How Do You Obtain a Performing Topsoil Layer for Rainwater Infiltration – Technical Primer (3.4MB PDF)

Topsoil technical primer - summary slide (360p)

Posted March  2010