"Collaborative initiatives will help Metro Vancouver municipalities better deliver on regulatory compliance," Kim Stephens tells regional elected representatives




 Note to Reader:

The Utilities Committee is the standing committee of the Metro Vancouver Board which provides advice and recommendations to the Board on water and liquid waste management programs. The Utilitiies Committee provides oversight for implementation of the region’s Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan (i.e. “the Plan”) which was adopted by the Board and approved by the Province in 2011.

Two years in the making, the Plan established the framework for moving beyond regulatory compliance to transitioning Metro Vancouver to an approach where watershed-based planning is integrated within a broader, sustainability framework. The Plan deals with liquid discharges and rainwater resources.

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Coiumbia has met three times with the committee over the past year. First, in September 2011, to successfully seek financial support for the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners; then, in May 2012, to introduce the benefits of the Inter-Regional Education Initiative on Rainwater Management in a Watershed Sustainability Context; and most recently, in October 2012, to report back on progress being made in advancing both initiatives.



Integration of Regulatory Compliance and Collaboration

“The Province is going down a pathway that integrates regulatory compliance and collaboration. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment is placing a renewed emphasis on rainwater management. This creates the opportunity for local government to demonstrate what ‘compliance + collaboration’ looks like on the ground,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director, when he provided Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee with an update on October 10.

“This opportunity is especially relevant to the Metro Vancouver region because the Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan spells out specific actions related to on-site rainwater management. This means capture rain where it falls. The Plan is clear. Municipalities WILL update bylaws and design guidelines, and municipalities WILL develop and implement ISMPs, which is the acronym for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans. As a replacement terminology for ISMP, we are encouraging local governments to adopt Watershed Blueprint as the term of choice because this captures the desired outcome.”


To Learn More:

To download a copy of the quarterly progress report submitted by the Partnership to the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee, click here.  

To download a PDF copy of the accompanying PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens to the Utilities Committee, click here.


Province Strengthened Metro Vancouver’s Plan for Managing Rainwater Resources

“When he approved the Plan, the Minister of Environment strengthened it by imposing conditions that expand what is expected of Metro Vancouver’s member municipalities vis-à-vis rainwater management. He connected the dots between land use planning and watershed health,” continued Kim Stephens. “The Minister’s conditions of approval implicitly recognize that there are financial liability and sustainability consequences when the land surface is hardened and below-ground flowpaths to streams are eliminated.”


To Learn More:

To learn more about Metro Vancouver’s comprehensive and holistic strategy for managing liquid discharges and rainwater resources, click here.



Collaborative Initiatives

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability, which includes Metro Vancouver and the majority of municipalities as charter members, is leading two collaborative initiatives, namely: the Water Balance Model Express; and the Inter-Regional Education Initiative. These are key tools and means for the region and its members to meet your ISMP regulatory commitments,” Kim Stephens reminded the Utilities Committee.

“The Water Balance Model Express for Landowners is supported by the Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC), and is nested within the Inter-Regional Education Initiative.”

“The beta version is ready, and in the coming months six partner local governments will be proceeding with demonstration applications on both sides of the Georgia Basin. The District of North Vancouver will go first, followed by the City of Surrey. Both municipalities are also contributing to curriculum development for the Inter-Regional Education Initiative.”

“The Inter-Regional Educational Initiative for ‘Rainwater Management in a Watershed Sustainability Context’ provides the framework for consistent messaging and consistent application of tools and understanding on both sides of the Georgia Basin. The ‘proof of approach’ has been successfully implemented on Vancouver Island.”

“In July, I met with the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) to seek input and support for an approach that is Georgia Basin in scope and scale. I am pleased to report that RPAC passed a motion of support for the Inter-Regional Education Initiative.”

“Collaboration and partnerships will help everyone go farther, more efficiently and effectively,” emphasized Kim Stephens in summarizing why the Water Balance Model Express and Inter-Regional Education Initiative will help municipalities better deliver on regulatory compliance.”


To Learn More:

To download a copy of the presentation by Kim Stephens to the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Advisory Committee in July 2012, click here.




Next Steps in Metro Vancouver

When he met with the Utilities Committee, Kim Stephens identified two next steps to conclude the formal part of his presentation. These provided the point of departure for questions and answers.

“In addition to municipal member actions, the Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan lays out a clear role for Metro Vancouver. Action #1.1.12 states that Metro Vancouver will facilitate region-wide strategies and actions to accomplish rainwater management outcomes. And furthermore, it is Strategy #3.2 that opens the door to Metro Vancouver and member participation in the Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).”

“Strategy #3.2 states that the plan seeks improvement through innovation, using local research and development and adapting successes from elsewhere, to address pollutants of emerging concern, implement more sustainable stormwater management practices and reduce long-term financial burdens.” 

“Pursuant to Strategy #3.2, the Partnership asks that the Metro Vancouver region formalize its support for inter-regional collaboration. Then the IREI truly will be the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative. We have met with the regional planning and engineering advisory committees about the benefits of collaborative initiatives. We are updating regional elected representatives quarterly. Next, we will meet with interested municipal Councils to elaborate on how the IREI will help them better deliver on regulatory compliance.”


To Learn More:

To download a copy of the motion adopted by the Utilties Committee, click here. This provides staff with direction to address collaboration.



About the Inter-Regional Education Initiative

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is helping the Province implement the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives in the local government setting. Launched in 2008, these initiatives comprise plans, strategies, targets, actions and tools to reduce the ‘water footprint’ of BC communities. The Partnership is a not-for-profit society,” states Tim Pringle, Partnership President.

“Collaboration is the pathway to a consistent approach to implementation and integration of water sustainability and green infrastructure policies and practices within and between regions. Yet there is no formal mechanism to enable or facilitate inter-regional collaboration. The Partnership fills this gap.”

“The modules comprising the Inter-Regional Education Initiative are designed to provide a consistent framework for knowledge-sharing within a region and between regions. There is ample flexibility to adapt within the framework to incorporate local objectives, learning outcomes, and examples,” adds Peter Law, Partnership Director. Formerly with the Ministry of Environment, Peter Law was Chair of the inter-governmental steering committee that was responsible for Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002.


To Learn More:

The Partnership has released a program overview for the Inter-Regional Education Initiative. The over-arching theme is that collaborative initiatives will help local governments better deliver on regulatory objectives and compliance. To download a copy of the program overview, click here.

 Posted October 2012