Leading Change in BC: 10 years ago, the late Don Moore showcased a vision for green infrastructure at the “Let It Rain Conference”


Note to Reader:

The late Don Moore (1959-2008) was a commonsense practitioner; he was not captive to terminology. Part of his legacy is being the catalyst for looking at drainage differently in 2004. Don Moore was also responsible for constructing the first ‘engineered rain garden’ in British Columbia.

In 2005, Don Moore had a vision for making green infrastructure the ‘new business as usual’. He seized the moment and partnered with Dr. Val Schaefer of the Douglas College Institute of Urban Ecology to organize the “Let It Rain Conference”. At the time, Don Moore was Manager of Environment with the Wesbild Corporation, developer of the Westwood Plateau community in the City of Coquitlam, BC. That community is home to over 15,000 residents.

To learn more about the life and times of Don Moore, click on In Memoriam to read the tribute published in 2008 by Watermark Magazine, the journal of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association.

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Let It Rain: A Conference on Managing Rainwater Runoff with Low Impact Development Methods

Co-funded by Wesbild and the Vancouver Foundation, and held in New Westminster, the conference theme was: how to keep rainwater out of the pipes and get it back into the ground where it falls.

Don Moore_120pDon Moore explained the background on Wesbild corporate sponsorship as follows: “We are working towards building a community on Burke Mountain that has an innovative and leading edge approach to rainwater management. The ‘Let it Rain’ conference is an opportunity for all of us to learn from our peers to help us better complement nature and not replace it.”

The conference featured case study presentations by rainwater management agencies and practitioners on source control measures such as terraced landscaping, rain gardens, exfiltration trenches and pits, roof downspout disconnection, runoff dispersal and permeable pavements.

“Our goal was to fill the room, and we did. The room capacity at Douglas Collegewas 125 and almost every seat was filled. The turnout was a direct demonstration of the interest in this emerging area of practice. The registrants included many municipal staff, GVRD, provincial government, and DFO staff, landscape architects, planners, contractors, and members of several NGOs.”

David Desrochers_120p“Don’s hallmark at this stage in his career were his ‘green infrastructure’ initiatives, which he enthusiastically promoted at each of his development sites, including Turtle Mountain (Vernon) and Burke Mountain (Coquitlam),” recalls David Desrochers, his longtime friend and former colleague at the City of Vancouver.

The Complete Set of Presentations

To download PDF copies of the 10 individual presentations that comprised the conference program, click on the links below:

Don Moore (Wesbild): A Natural Systems Approach to Rainwater Management at Burke Mountain

Kim Stephens (Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC): The Water Balance Model: A Tool for ‘Designing with Nature’

Dana Soong (City of Coquitlam): Hyde Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan

Don Moore: Rain Gardens – A Source Control Method

David Yurkovich & Dave Desrochers (City of Vancouver): Country Lanes Project – Asphalt Alternative

David Hislop (City of Surrey): East Clayton Sustainable Development – Performance Update Year 2

Julia Brydon (University of BC): Protecting Water Resources with Low Impact Development

Craig Shishido (Metro Vancouver): Understanding and Applying LEED

Chris Johnston (KWL): Lot and Roadside Stormwater Source Controls – Silver Ridge Development in Maple Ridge

Ed von Euw (Metro Vancouver): Rainwater Management – Regional Overview and Initiatives

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A Natural Systems Approach to Stormwater Management: A New Vision for ‘Designing with Nature’

“A new community is emerging in northeast Coquitlam at Burke Mountain. A key feature of planned development at Burke Mountain is a low impact, ‘natural systems approach’ to stormwater management,” wrote Don Moore in 2004.

“As a major land owner in the area Wesbild is committed to utilizing sustainable, best management, stormwater practices in the development of its land. Wesbild’s approach will embrace evolving Low Impact Development (LID) strategies, a ‘design with nature’ philosophy, to create a greener community and achieve a sustainable interface for stream protection.”

Natural Water Balance Goal

“The stormwater management methods will strive to preserve the natural water balanceIn simple terms this means designing to get stormwater into the ground and to keep it out of the pipes,” continued Don Moore.

“To support this objective, Wesbild has developed a manual that will serve as both a policy statement and a practical guide.  Our goal is to integrate practical strategies to naturally balance rainwater volume and reduce runoff from our developed land.”

To Learn More:

Burke Mtn Manual - Cover_with borderTo download a copy of the Wesbild manual, click on A Natural Systems Approach to Stormwater Management: Implementing Low Impact Development at Burke Mountain, released in 2004. The manual was a collaborative effort on the part of Don Moore and Kim Stephens.

The natural approach provided a framework of practical stormwater management solutions for Burke Mountain. Don Moore’s vision was that this would add depth to the City’s Hyde Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan.

A ‘Don Moore Moment’ at the Let It Rain Conference

Paul Cipywnyk, President of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, captured a ‘Don Moore moment’ when he wrote the following in his blog: “Oh, one neat idea that popped up was no longer talking about ‘stormwater management’ but shifting to ‘rainwater management.’ Don Moore said that MS Word always flagged Paul Cipywnyk_120p‘stormwater’ as incorrect, while ‘rainwater’ was OK, and that led him to think about changing all uses of ‘stormwater’ to ‘rainwater.’ It is rain after all, not just storms, and ‘stormwater’ has developed negative connotations, such as flooding. So from now on, no more ‘stormwater management’, it’s ‘rainwater management’.”

About the Paradigm-Shift to ‘RAINwater’

“Don Moore was the catalyst for inspiring us to look at things differently,” recalls Kim Stephens, Executive Director for the Partnership for Water Kim-Stephens1_July2014_DSC_0669_120pSustainability in BC.

“It was late 2003 and early 2004 when Don and I co-authored the guidance document for Wesbild about designing with nature on Burke Mountain. I remember it as though it was only yesterday when Don looked at me quizzically and asked: Why do we say stormwater management; shouldn’t it be RAINwater management?”

“Don was a commonsense practitioner; he was not captive to terminology. Long story short, part of Don’s legacy is being the catalyst for a language-shift in British Columbia…. because that fresh perspective by Don resulted in a light-bulb moment for me and others in the inter-governmental partnership that developed the Water Balance Model for British Columbia.”

“Not long after Don asked his thought-provoking question, Innovation Magazine invited the inter-governmental partnership to submit an article about the Water Balance Model. This led to a branding piece that we titled Sustainable Community Design: A New Approach to Rainwater Management, published in June 2004. This was a defining moment in terms of commencing the paradigm-shift in practitioner thinking that the Water Balance Model has come to symbolize.”

The First ‘Engineered’ Rain Garden

“Don Moore was also responsible for constructing the first ‘engineered rain garden’ in British Columbia. This was built at the Wesbild offices on the Westwood Plateau at the end of 2004,” continues Kim Stephens.

“We describe it as ‘the first engineered’ because it was constructed in accordance with design guidelines developed for Metro Vancouver. Don came up with a practical way to monitor the performance of the rain garden, thereby providing some of the earliest data on the effectiveness of landscape-based measures for rainfall capture. He presented his findings at the Let It Rain Conference.” 

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