LEGAL POLICIES AND STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE – THEME FOR SEMINAR 2 OF INAUGURAL 2008 COMOX VALLEY LEARNING LUNCH SERIES: “The Inland Kenworth site on the Nanaimo Parkway at Northfield illustrated what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality establishes expectations and challenges a development proponent and design team to do business differently,” stated Kevin Lagan, Director of Public Works, City of Courtenay (October 2008)

Note to Reader:

The City of Courtenay was the host municipality for the second series of pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminars. The series promoted a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure.

The meet-and-greet for each Learning Lunch Seminar started at 10:30am. Each event concluded at 3:00pm. The second Comox Valley seminar was held on October 24th 2008. To download the agenda, click here. The series comprised three events:

Strategies and Tools for Creating Liveable Communities & Protecting Stream Health: Actions on the ground add up to “A Positive Settlement Strategy for Vancouver Island”

The approach to series design is to start simply by highlighting key messages and examples that promote a common understanding; and progressively build to the regional picture. The ultimate goal is collaboration and integration that results in innovation in implementing policies and practices that create liveable communities and protect stream health.

Implementation Tools

The second in the series of three seminars was structured in two parts to facilitate the sharing of experience and lessons learned. The focus was on implementation tools, in particular legal and policy strategies:

  • Establishing expectations – this is what we want to achieve.
  • Delivering on expectations – this is how we will get there.

Derek Richmond, City of Courtenay Manager of Engineering, opened Seminar #2 by emphasizing that the focus would be on tools to meet objectives. He also explained how the seminar would be conducted as a town hall session. “We will ask you to share your experiences”, he stated. Watch Derek’s opening remarks on YouTube:

Establishing Expectations

In the morning, the team of Dean Mousseau and Gary Noble from the City of Nanaimo told the story of the Inland Kenworth industrial development. Their story illustrates what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality challenges a development proponent to be innovative.

The Inland Kenworth project also illustrates how a Design with Nature approach to rainwater management will influence the greening of the built environment and protect stream health. A key message is that the City of Nanaimo, in challenging the developer to do something different, has created a chain reaction in terms of the approach being replicated in Courtenay and North Cowichan.

Delivering on Expectations

Courtenay seminar #2 - susan rutherford (120p)In the afternoon, Susan Rutherford of West Coast Environmental Law employed a question-and-answer format to illustrate opportunities and scales for law and policy to effect change. Susan’s presentation transitioned seamlessly into a town hall segment where seminar participants talked about what they have done or what they want to do. Glen Brown of the Ministry of Community Development weaved the Province’s perspective into the town hall discussion.

BELOW: Derek Richmond and Kevin Lagan the City of Courtenay on the top row; Gary Noble and Dean Mousseau of the City of Nanaimo on the bottom row.

Living Water Smart means “doing business differently” in BC

Published in June 2008, Living Water Smart is the provincial government’s vision and plan to keep British Columbia’s water healthy and secure for the future. By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.

  • What does this mean to those involved in land development or redevelopment?

The Province and local government are collaborating to develop a suite of user-friendly tools and approaches for assessment purposes and to provide consistency when reviewing development applications. The Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series is part of the implementation program for Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual. This provincial initiative builds on the foundation provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, published in 2002, and incorporates lessons learned over the past six years in moving from planning to action.

Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia

To prepare for the town hall segment, seminar participants were asked to read Rainwater Management:  An Introduction to the Guidebook for British Columbia, an 8-page document that employs friendly language to provide readers with a broad-brush picture of core concepts.

It is written for both expert and non-expert audiences. It explains how the Guidebook is structured to meet the information needs of different audiences; and it provides a transition into the current Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual initiative.

Today’s Expectations are Tomorrow’s Standards

The Province is leveraging its grants programs to influence changes on the ground. British Columbia is in transition. Today, assessment criteria are based on a philosophy of “the greener the better”. Tomorrow, all projects must meet a green standard. The Province’s position is clear: Adapting to climate change and reducing our impact on the environment will be a condition for receiving provincial infrastructure funding.

PowerPoint Presentations

Creating Our Future:

Kim stephens (120p)Kim Stephens, seminar team leader and Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, warmed up the audience by first reviewing what had been accomplished in Seminar #1, and then conducting an interactive segment to ask participants about their expectations for the day. To view the set of PowerPoint slides that guided this part of the Seminar #2 program, click here.

Design with Nature:

Dean Mousseau and Gary Noble first told the Inland Kenworth story in September 2007 when the City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo co-hosted the first in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island Series.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of the set of PowerPoint slides that provide the backdrop for their conversational approach, click here.


Legal and Policy Strategies:

Susan rutherford (120p) - june 2008Susan Rutherford, staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, is the author of the Green Infrastructure Guide: Issues, Implementation Strategies and Success Stories. It provides guidance on how local governments may, using legal and policy strategies, encourage or require more sustainable infrastructure designs. This part of the program was organized as a set of discussion segments built around an Issue / Question format.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of Opportunities for Law and Policy to Affect Changes on the Ground, Susan’s PowerPoint presentation.


Links to YouTube Videos

To both provide a record of the day and capture the flavour of the discussion in Seminar #2, video clips have been uploaded to YouTube. To learn more, click on the images below to access YouTube.

Creating Our Future

Kim Stephens led off by explaining the program elements that comprise the Vancouver Island pilot program for practitioner continuing education. “Consistent messaging is what we are trying to accomplish,” he said.

Glen Brown then explained what the Province wishes to accomplish through its Living Water Smart initiative. “This is a provincial strategy; we must look at it as a shared responsibility,” he emphasized.

Kim Stephens followed Glen Brown by summarizing learning outcomes for each seminar in the series. This primed the audience for an interactive segment. Kim asked participants about their expectations for the day.

Kim Stephens concluded the opening part of the program by elaborating on expectations for the day and explaining what convening for action means. “We are seeing the move from talk to action.” he said in explaing the what, so what, now what mind-map.

Design with Nature:

Kim Stephens introduced the Inland Kenworth case study in Nanaimo and described its Vancouver Island significance. This set the scene for the tag-team presentation by Dean Mousseau and Gary Noble.

Dean Mousseau and Gary Noble engaged the audience by telling their story in a conversational style and interacting with the audience. Inland Kenworth is located at the intersection of the Nanaimo Parkway and Northfield Road.

Legal and Policy Strategies:

At the start of the afternoon session, members of the organizing team and seminar faculty – Derek Richmond, Kevin Lagan, Glen Brown and Susan Rutherford – spoke about their expectations for the day. This helped provide context for the desired outcomes.

Susan Rutherford explained how Kevin Lagan and Derek Richmond generated a set of questions that revolve around the topic of getting your green infrastructure plans built. “The purpose of this approach is so that I can lead a town hall discussion,” she said.

In this video clip, Susan Rutherford and others, in particular Dean Mousseau, engaged in a town hall discussion about sediment and erosion control during construction. Given that monitoring and compliance are challenges, the focus was on use of available tools to ensure compliance.

In this video clip, the focus of the town hall discussion led by Susan Rutherford is on drainage and grading plans. The question posed was: how can we ensure that the original drainage/grading plan for the subdivision is being adhered to?

In this video clip, the town hall discussion addressed the topic of soil depth, with emphasis on the City of Courtenay experience as the first BC municipality to implement a soil depth requirement. The question asked was: What legal avenues exist for ensuring topsoil is kept onsite?

In this video clip, Susan Rutherford highlights the importance of the Commentary on Effective Rainwater/Stormwater Management. “The Commentary ties together in a narrative how to achieve watershed health,” she said.

In this video clip, listen to the off-camera voices of District of Campbell River and Town of Comox representatives. They described what doing business differently means in their communities.

Glen Brown cited examples of municipalities receiving infrastructure grants for doing business differently. Maggie Henigman of MOE had the last word when when she observed that there has been ‘huge shift’ on Vancouver Island. “There is a new social norm,” she said.

To close out the town hall segment, Kim Stephens and Kevin Lagan offered observations on regional thinking. Listen to an off-camera voice suggesting alignment with NGOs to change thinking. “A bottom-up approach will achieve the high level goals,” stated Kim Stephens.

At the end of the seminar, Derek Richmond outlined expectations and the homework exercise for Seminar #3. “Think about how all the various elements within an organization all need to work together,” he said.

About the Learning Lunch Series: Common Understanding and Consistent Approach

The Learning Lunch Seminar Series promotes a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay are the host local governments for the Vancouver Island pilot program. In total, the Vancouver Island local governments that will be participating represent some 250,000 people.

  • The Cowichan Valley series comprised a set of three sessions held during the June – July 2008 period.
  • The Comox Valley series comprised a set of three sessions held during the September – November 2008 period.

The Learning Lunch Seminar Series is the first step in building a regional team approach so that there will be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure. The Seminar Series is part of the implementation program for  Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual, and is precedent-setting in its scope.