WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: “Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Nanaimo Region – Right People in Right Place at Right Time, Over Time” (released April 2021)
“The work of the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program (DWWP) is strategic. It is community based, and makes links interdepartmentally and with external agencies. And that in itself is the super power of what we do. It does not fit into a box of what a usual local government service is or does. The objective and mission of the DWWP program has always been about connecting land and water management. But the RDN couldn’t just leap straight there. We first had to build partnerships, trust, datasets and knowledge. We had to test ideas, learn, earn credibility, and deepen relationships across jurisdictions,” stated Julie Pisani
A PLAN FOR RAINY DAYS: “An exacting attention to natural patterns was a core innovation of the Fused Grid and Water Balance approaches,” stated Fanis Grammenos, former Senior Researcher with the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, and an urban sustainability thinker
“In 2004, the City of Stratford in Ontario approved a secondary plan for a future city expansion based on an evaluation of three plans, one of which was the Fused Grid. In 2006, CMHC initiated a supplementary case study to assess the potential for reducing or eliminating rainwater runoff from the development area,” reports Fanis Grammenos. “The question for this analysis was to assess to what extent street layout, amount and distribution of open space, and building form affect the post-development runoff resulting from the impermeable surfaces that urban development creates.”
FLASHBACK TO 2014: “Coquitlam’s story demonstrates, on a local level, how attitudes and approaches in the Metro Vancouver region have evolved with watershed management and recognition of rainwater as a resource,” stated Melony Burton, co-author of Creating the Future in Coquitlam, second in the Watershed Case Profile Series that features communities leading by example in British Columbia
“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 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,” stated Melony Burton.
FLASHBACK TO 2009: “Re-focus Integrated Stormwater Management Plans on on watershed targets and outcomes so that there are clear linkages with the land use planning and development approval process; move beyond pilot projects to a watershed-based approach to achieving performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure” – Metro Vancouver Reference Panel recommendation
Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Plan established the framework for moving beyond regulatory compliance to transitioning Metro Vancouver to an approach that would achieve the Sustainable Region Vision. “Think about it – the Reference Panel has influenced the waste committee, the finance committee and the way we make decisions overall. It is great. The community benefits when there is collaboration and a true partnership between local government staff and community members in a working group,” stated (former) West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones.
ASSET MANAGEMENT BC NEWSLETTER (February 2021): “Restoring land drainage and stream corridor system integrity for a creekshed would require looking beyond the stream corridor to the surrounding landscape – that is, reconnect hydrology and stream ecology by design,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, focuses on drainage and the condition and/or integrity of stream corridors. Both natural and constructed assets need to be addressed in the drainage context. Both are systems and therefore require similar M&M strategies. Drainage infrastructure, or lack thereof, is typically an unfunded liability that grows over time. It is the elephant in the room. EAP supports local governments intending to adopt a life-cycle approach to M&M of natural assets much as it would apply to constructed assets,” stated Kim Stephens.
RECONNECTING HYDROLOGY & STREAM ECOLOGY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Historical context for an ecosystem-based approach to managing land and water in the urban environment – the coming together of a group of change agents in 1997 set in motion a chain of outcomes
The late Erik Karlsen conceived and championed the idea of a Watershed/Landscaped-Based Approach to Community Planning. His last assignment while in government was to collaborate with a Metro Vancouver interdisciplinary working group to produce the conceptual framework for the approach. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed.
USE PLAIN LANGUAGE: “Words like ‘stormwater’, ‘rainwater’ and ‘drainage’ can have such powerful unconscious effects on how you interpret the discussions and they can mean different things to different stakeholders in the system,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD candidate, University of Venice (January 2021)
“In the sciences, one of the largest challenges to research is science communication. A lot of fantastic studies are misinterpreted outside of scientific circles because the language, style and meaning of science writing is very different to non-specialists. With climate change studies, this can lead to a serious disconnect between climate change policy and the supporting research. Good policy is reliant of strong communication of everyone’s interests,” stated Charles Axelsson.
FLASHBACK TO THE ROLLOUT OF BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2010: “A key component of managing for storms is redesigning our approach to handling the more frequent, lighter rainfall events,” Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, at the last of five regional events that showcased the rollout of Beyond the Guidebook 2010 (From Rain to Resource Workshop, Kelowna, October 2010)
“Extreme weather patterns, including higher rainfall intensities and more frequent flooding, are one of the projected outcomes of climate change. Managing stormwater effectively will be a critical climate change adaptation tool. Increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game. We can’t engineer away our problems fast enough, and have to look at other, lower impact solutions,” stated Anna Warwick Sears.
FLASHBACK TO 2008 / MAKE GREEN CHOICES TO PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “Rather than evolution, the approach to stormwater management over the last couple of decades might be better described as ‘reactionary’ in response to a realization that old ways of doing business were causing harm,” stated Ian Whitehead at Seminar 1 in the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series when he provided a historical retrospective on the evolution of drainage practices in the City of Courtenay (YouTube Video)
“I looked up the definition of evolution in my pocket dictionary. It says develop, or cause to develop gradually. It goes on to say that this means undergo slow changes in the process of growth. By this definition, at least, I would argue that what has been going on in this part of the world is something other than evolutionary. Over the last 15 to 20 years, we have seen dramatic changes in the Comox Valley in land use and the effects of stormwater and rainwater on the environment. We are reacting to what we perceive as adverse conditions,” stated Ian Whitehead.
FLASHBACK TO 2008 / BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK: “The Stormwater Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that resulted in British Columbia being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment,” stated Kim Stephens, series team leader, at Seminar 1 in the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series (YouTube Video)
“The evolution of planning for water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure achieved a milestone with release of Beyond the Guidebook in 2007. The goal? Help local governments achieve desired urban stream health and environmental protection outcomes at a watershed scale. In early 2008, the provincial government’s Speech from the Throne provided a timely impetus for branding Beyond the Guidebook as The New Business As Usual and rolling it out through the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Series,” stated Kim Stephens.