FLASHBACK TO 2007: "Vancouver Island was a proving ground for local government ideas and programs initiated by the Green Infrastructure Partnership," recalls Paul Ham, Chair (2005-2008)
Note to Reader:
During the period 2003 through 2010, the Green Infrastructure Partnership (also known by the acronym “GIP”) played a prominent role in leading change and assisting with implementation of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. The GIP helped launch and then supported the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative.
After incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC as a not-for-profit society in 2010, the responsibilities of the GIP were assumed by the Partnership for Water Sustainability.
Throughout 2014, the Partnership is celebrating 10 years of successful Water Sustainability Action Plan program delivery. The celebration includes a series of flashback stories featuring those who have played leadership roles in delivering elements of the Action Plan. One of those champions is Paul Ham who was GIP Chair from 2005 through 2008.
The reflections of Paul Ham are introduced below. The Partnership for Water Sustainability has honoured Paul Ham by naming him a Lifetime Member of the Partnership. To read the complete story about the reflections of Paul Ham, and learn more, click on Celebrating a Decade of Success.
Green Infrastructure is the foundation for Water Sustainability
Paul Ham was with the City of Surrey for over 30 years, where he had a distinguished career and rose to City Engineer. In 2005, he succeeded Chuck Gale as Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. He served as Chair until 2008 when he retired from the City. He continued as Past-Chair until 2010. Under his leadership, initiatives undertaken by the Green Infrastructure Partnership enhanced the credibility of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
A Ripple Effect that Spurred Innovation
“Under Paul Ham’s leadership, the Green Infrastructure Partnership has achieved a great deal since 2005,” stated Ray Fung when he succeeded Paul Ham as Chair in 2008. “The Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series, for example, has helped local government practitioners immeasurably by creating forums for them to share their experiences and lessons learned. This has created a ripple effect that has spurred even more innovation.”
A Milestone in BC’s Environmental History
“The paradigm-shift that occurred during Paul Ham’s watch far exceeds our original expectation that the partnership would be a catalyst for change,” added Chuck Gale, Founding Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, in a 2008 statement. ”I am so proud of all those committed participants who have been instrumental in making this initiative an unqualified success in BC’s environmental history.”
CAVI – Regional Demonstration Initiative for Leading Change
“Paul Ham’s guiding hand was a key factor in establishing early credibility for the Convening for Action initiative in the Metro Vancouver region. And the 2006 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series was a milestone accomplishment,” recalls Kim Stephens, Executive Director with the Partnership for Water Sustainability.
“Another milestone accomplishment in 2006 was the launch of the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative. The Green Infrastructure Partnership joined forces with the CAVI Leadership Team to organize the CAVI Consultation Workshop as an adjunct to the Water in the City Conference. The CAVI initiative was framed as a regional pilot program for Convening for Action in British Columbia. The event was transformational. The rest is history.”
“The success of the Metro Vancouver Showcasing Series established a precedent for bringing together local governments. CAVI leveraged this precedent. The 2007 Vancouver Island Showcasing Series provided the springboard for everything that has followed, starting with the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar program in 2008.”
“At all these CAVI events, Susan Rutherford (Staff Counsel with the West Coast Environmental Law Foundation) represented the Green Infrastructure Partnership. Susan made a material contribution to program evolution through her emphasis on Shared Responsibility in combination with law and policy tools. Her work helped to cross-fertilize the sharing of ideas between local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island and those in the Metro Vancouver region.”
Shared Responsibility Explained
“Policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to implement green infrastructure solutions and ensure responsible outcomes. Each party in the process has a responsibility,” wrote Susan Rutherford in Backgrounder: Shared Responsibility Underpins a Regional Team Approach to Creating Our Future in British Columbia, released in December 2009.
“Building on the experience we have gained on Vancouver Island through the CAVI program, our purpose in developing the Shared Responsibility Matrix is to encourage players with different perspectives to talk candidly with each other about green infrastructure or other sustainability goal implementation.”
“There are solutions to be found if all parties in the community development process, i.e., staff within local and regional governments as well as private and other actors external to government but no less involved in the development process, simply talk to each other about how they could all work together more effectively, using law reform or other process changes as tools,” concluded Susan Rutherford.
Paul Ham: Reflections on Chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership
“Shortly after becoming GIP Chair, I met with my peers on the Metro Vancouver Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC), and asked them to support and participate in a Green Infrastructure Consultation Workshop that the City of Surrey would host in May 2005 on behalf of the GIP. This proved to be a transformational event. The majority of Metro Vancouver municipalities participated. The ‘Convening for Action’ initiative was well and truly launched,” recalls Paul Ham.
“The next year, in September 2006 in Victoria at a consultation workshop held in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference, the GIP helped our Vancouver Island colleagues launch the CAVI initiative. We helped by facilitating breakout groups.”
“After the successful launch of CAVI, and over the course of the first three years, Vancouver Island was a proving ground for local government ideas and programs initiated by the Green Infrastructure Partnership. It was a matter of the right people being in the right place at the right time.”
“Because the way we develop land determines how water is used and how water runs off the land, the desire to mitigate environmental impacts has provided a driver for the ‘green infrastructure’ movement. Infrastructure design in British Columbia is changing because we recognize that instead of incurring costs and losses, we can achieve cumulative benefits through changes in the policies, programs, practices and standards that determine how land is developed and water is used.”
Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series
“Chairing the Partnership made me realize how many new ideas in sustainable servicing were being tried out around the Region and the Province,” adds Paul Ham. “To spread the word on what was happening in the region a number of one day seminar and field demonstration events were held under the banner of the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series in 2006.”
“Experience shows that intra-region communication among local government practitioners is the exception rather than the rule. The Showcasing Innovation Series created opportunities to have conversations where learning took place.”
“In 2007, local governments hosted Showcasing Innovation Series on both sides of the Georgia Basin. Every Friday over a 6-week period from mid-September through late October, we alternated between Metro Vancouver and the east coast of Vancouver Island. The Water Sustainability Action Plan was the umbrella for the two series. The GIP Steering Committee organized the Metro Vancouver series; our CAVI colleagues organized the Vancouver Island series.”
The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is the “keeper of the GIP legacy”
“The Green Infrastructure Partnership was an original element of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC, released in 2002. Starting with the 2005 REAC Consultation Workshop, the early success of the GIP built awareness and galvanized action on the ground, and provided our Vancouver Island colleagues with confidence that they were on the right track.”
“I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success.”
“Success on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver helped to lay a strong foundation for incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. This entity is now the hub for a ‘convening for action’ network in the local government setting, and the keeper of the GIP legacy,” concludes Paul Ham.
To Learn More:
To read the complete story posted on the Convening for Action community-of-interest, click on Celebrating a Decade of Success: “Green infrastructure practices have moved from pilot project to neighbourhood and watershed scale approaches,” reflects Paul Ham, an early green infrastructure champion.