Story #2 in the ISMP Course Correction Series: Capitalize on Green Infrastructure Opportunities to 'Design with Nature'


Note to Readers:

This article is an extract from the second in a series of five stories that are designed to inform local governments and others about a course correction for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs). The series describes:

  • what ISMPs are;
  • how local governments can do more with less; and
  • how local governments can ensure ISMPs are outcome-oriented.

An ISMP is a potentially powerful tool to achieve a vision for ‘green’ development, one that protects stream health, fish habitat and fish. Local governments now have a decade of experience from which to extract lessons learned,” states Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model. Given this frame of reference, Story #2:

  • explains why ‘designing with nature’ is key to climate change adaptation;
  • identifies what municipalities will need to do to protect or restore stream health; and
  • introduces principles upon which a Regional Team Approach to green infrastructure implementation is founded.

To download a PDF version of the complete Story #2, click on Integrated Rainwater Management Planning: Capitalize on Green Infrastructure Opportunities to ‘Design with Nature’

Climate Change Adaptation Context

An ISMP is a tool for integrating actions at four scales: regional, watershed, neighbourhood, and site. Thus, an outcome-oriented ISMP can provide a clear picture of how local governments can be proactive in applying land use planning tools to create the future desired by all:

  • What do we want this watershed to look like in 100 years, and what steps will we take to get there?

When the ISMP approach was introduced a decade ago, it reflected a significant paradigm-shift in community values. The implicit goal was to build and/or rebuild communities in balance with ecology – that is, accommodate development while protecting property and aquatic habitat. A decade later, climate change has become an integral part of the equation.

Build Greener Communities

Mitigation and adaptation are both necessary and complementary strategies to cope with the climate change challenge. If mitigation is about CARBON, then adaptation is about WATER.

Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan and the Green Communities Initiative are both about adaptation. They encourage ‘shared responsibility’ in the local government setting so that ‘green choices’ by all players will achieve ‘design with nature’ outcomes.

Building greener communities by ‘designing with nature’ creates opportunities to adapt to changes in the Water Balance. When the built environment is enhanced through a water-centric approach, and is guided by ‘design with nature’ principles, the resulting benefits cover a spectrum of outcomes – from community liveability to stream health.

Collaboration, Alignment and Consistency

Commencing in 2005, ‘convening for action’ programs have been initiated in three regions: Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Metro Vancouver. Each regional initiative has its own vision and road map. A commonality is the desire to change the way that land is developed and water is used.

Lessons learned are being shared. Intra-regional and inter-regional collaboration is resulting in consistent approaches to green infrastructure policies and practices.

The Regional Team Approach is an outcome of ‘convening for action’; and is evolving into a provincial ‘practitioners network’.

To Learn More:

Local government experience in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island has informed the ‘ISMP course correction’ described in Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia. Readers are encouraged to:

Since 2002, “integrated drainage plans” have typically been called “ISMPs” pursuant to the nomenclature established in Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia. Beyond the Guidebook 2010 states that the time has now come to describe truly integrated plans as “IRMPs” to reflect the paradigm-shift from pipe-and-convey ‘stormwater’ to landscape-based ‘RAINwater’.

ISMP course correction series - story#2 cover (475p)

Posted November 2010