Leadership & Innovation in Victoria: "Creation of the Stormwater Utility and Rainwater Rewards Program is a significant milestone in a journey that leads to a water-resilient future," wrote Kim Stephens in an Op-Ed for Victoria Times-Colonist
Note to Reader:
In 2013, the City of Victoria embarked upon a comprehensive engagement process to implement a design with nature vision for Sustainable Rainwater Management. The City’s goal: use rain as a resource and mimic the function of natural systems. The outcome: a user-pay Stormwater Utility complete with a Rainwater Rewards Program. In October 2016, property owners received their first bill from the City for the Stormwater Utility.
To celebrate this milestone accomplishment, Kim Stephens (Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC) wrote an Op-Ed article for the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper. Titled Victoria’s stormwater utility looks to the future, the article was published on October 15, 2016. It is introduced below.
Sustainable rainwater management practices, such as rain gardens, allow cities to use rain as a resource. This helps developed watersheds (such as in an urban landscape) mimic the function of natural systems.
Stormwater Utility looks to the Future
“In the late 1990s, there was considerable interest and enthusiasm on the part of numerous BC municipalities to establish stormwater utilities. But few followed through with action, and those that did merely added to the scope of their existing sanitary sewer utilities to ensure dedicated funding for drainage purposes,” wrote Kim Stephens.
“Fast forward to 2016. The City of Victoria has shown leadership by establishing a Stormwater Utility AND a Rainwater Rewards Program that looks to the future. The City’s accomplishment merits celebration.”
“Over time, the Stormwater Utility provides the City with the capability to foster a watershed stewardship ethic and influence landowner actions on the ground for the common good. These outcomes can be achieved through education in combination with financial incentives. It is about connecting the dots.”
Victoria experience will inform other local governments within the Georgia Basin
Kim Stephens is a professional engineer and a ‘Water Balance champion’. He has four decades of experience and has had a leadership role in a series of provincial initiatives related to water sustainability, rainwater management and green infrastructure.
Since 2003, Kim has been responsible for developing and delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC through partnerships and collaboration. Under this umbrella is the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI).
“The Capital Regional District is one of five partner regional districts, together representing 75% of BC’s population. City of Victoria experience will inform the IREI curriculum and ‘sharing and learning’ among local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland,” observes Kim Stephens.