Lynn Valley Town Centre: A Demonstration Application of "A Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning"



Note to Reader:

The District of North Vancouver’s innovative approach to development of the Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint has produced a provincially significant precedent. The District has demonstrated what the shift from a ‘model-centric’ drainage approach to ‘landscape-based’ blueprint approach looks like in practice.

The Hastings Creek story is the first in a series of Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles that will form part of the inter-regional curriculum for cross-fertilizing local government experience within the Georgia Basin.

To download a copy of the “Story of Hastings Creek”, click on A Watershed Blueprint for Hastings Creek: Creating the Future in the District of North Vancouver.

Aerial View of Lynn Valley Town Centre


Lynn Valley Town Centre – Redevelopment is a Driver for Watershed Action

In June 2011, the District of North Vancouver adopted its updated Official Community Plan (OCP). This designates the Lynn Valley area as one of two Town Centres. The existing Lynn Valley Mall is at the heart of the future Town Centre.

Viewed in the context of watershed health, redevelopment to accommodate higher density land use creates both risks and opportunities. Hence, the Lynn Valley Town Centre is the driver for action by the District to demonstrate how the Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint will better deliver on regulatory compliance.


Celebration of Rain

“A unique aspect of the Draft Implementation Plan for the Lynn Valley Town Centre is that it is very much about rain,” states Karen Rendek, Policy Planner and the District’s project leader for plan development.

“Rain is a common occurrence in Lynn Valley. We have approximately 3 metres of rainfall each year. It is part of the community’s DNA.You don’t have to explain it to people. They get it. Everyone has a story about rain and why they celebrate it. The Draft Implementation Plan recognizes this cultural dimension and celebrates this natural feature.”

“We have been guided by this principle: how will the Town Centre Draft Implementation Plan do its part to improve the overall health of the entire Hastings Creek watershed system?


Getting It Right the Second Time

“We have the tools. We have the understanding. It is a matter of applying both to ‘get it right the second time’. Implement a design with nature approach. Install green infrastructure that restores the Water Balance,” continues Richard Boase, Environmental Protection Officer and the District’s co-leader for the Hastings Creek Blueprint.

“The current Town Centre process has created the opportunity for the District to connect the dots and achieve an integrated outcome at three scales: site, neighbourhood and watershed.”


Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach

“The inter-connected Lynn Valley Town Centre and Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint processes are a demonstration application of what was envisioned when a Metro Vancouver working group produced a guidance document titled A Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning, released in 2002,” notes Susan Haid, the District’s Manager of Sustainable Community Development. A decade ago, Susan chaired the inter-municipal working group.

“An important message is that planning and implementation involves cooperation among all orders of government as well as the non-government and private sectors,” states Erik Karlsen, a principal author of the Watershed-Landscape-based Approach. He retired from government as Director of Regional Growth Strategies in the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs. He then served five years as Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission.

“Achieving desired results at the site and activity levels also requires support from individuals, which in turn calls for engaging people both in the development of strategies and the use of a range of voluntary, incentive, public investment and regulatory tools.”

The Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach morphed into what is now known as Water-Centric Planning in British Columbia.


To Learn More:

To download and read the complete “story behind the story” of how the planning team viewed redevelopment through a rainwater lens, click on Lynn Valley Town Centre.

To download the summary document on the Watershed/Landscape-Based Approach, click on Draft Working Paper. To read a synopsis posted on the Rainwater Management community-of-interest under provincial Guidance Documents, click here