Creating the Future in Coquitlam: Implementing a Watershed-Based Approach to Community Planning
Note to Reader:
The Coquitlam story is the second in a series of Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability. Co-authored by Melony Burton and Kim Stephens, the Case Profile describes how the City of Coquitlam has evolved an effective and adaptable approach to watershed-based community planning.
Introduction to Coquitlam Story
“An interesting aspect of Coquitlam’s story is that it demonstrates, on a local level, how attitudes and approaches in the Metro Vancouver region have evolved with watershed management and the recognition of rainwater as a resource,” reports Melony Burton, the City’s Watershed and Drainage Coordinator. Since 2007, she has been the champion tasked with drainage utility planning and driving the ISMP process.
“Going back to the 1990s, and the start of watershed-based planning approaches, Coquitlam has been involved in pilot projects that put these theories to the test. Since then they have continued to take concepts introduced regionally, and implement them incrementally, each effort building on the successes or lessons of the last. In the process, Coquitlam has learned by doing.”
“Changing the way we do things means taking on new challenges and not always getting it entirely right the first time. But all attempts generally have some salvageable elements to move forward on,” emphasizes Melony Burton.
“Over the past decade, the City has built on pragmatic experience in first securing political support for a watershed-based approach to community planning; and then developing, implementing and refining practical rainwater management applications that mimic the natural Water Balance,” continues Melony Burton.
To tell the Coquitlam story in a seamless way, the steps along the way are grouped under these seven themes that serve as section headings:
- OCP Amendments Provide Foundation for a Watershed Based Community Planning – 2003 was a defining year because new policies required that watershed needs be reflected in the land use planning process by requiring watershed studies before Neighbourhood Plans.
- Source Control Implementation Challenges Led to a Refined Strategy – this covers the period 2004 through April 2007 when challenges with the implementation of source controls triggered the need for a refined approach.
- Rainwater Management Guidelines Represent a New Beginning – this covers the period May 2007 through June 2009 when the City underwent a renewal process that revised its approach to rainwater management and reaffirmed its commitment to watershed planning.
- Partington Creek IMWP: Putting It All Together – adopted in July 2011, the Partington Watershed Plan was the culmination of efforts over the years to achieve true integration of drainage, ecology and land use planning.
- Coquitlam on Track for Completion of Watershed Plans – the City is nearing completion of watershed plans for all urban areas and moving forward with implementation through an array of projects.
- Looking Beyond 2014: Adaptive Management using Monitoring that Informs – the City is a member of the regional working group that has developed a monitoring program that can be used to select actions for continuous improvements in watershed health.
“We have arrived at a good place, but the journey has not been easy,” reflects Peter Steblin, Coquitlam City Manager. “We want other local governments to know about the good, the bad and the ugly of the Coquitlam story so that they may learn from our experience and know that it is okay to stumble.”
To Learn More:
To download a copy of the Watershed Case Profile, click on Watershed Planning & Rainwater Management: Creating the Future in the City of Coquitlam.