DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “The Town of Comox and its collaborators have provided a working example of understanding the worth of Brooklyn Creek, its hydrology, and ecological systems,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair
Note to Reader:
EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, provides metrics that enable communities to appreciate the worth of natural assets. These resources provide numerous public benefits in the form of ecological services. EAP also calculates the dollar value of the land occupied by the natural commons, thus providing a basis for budgeting maintenance and enhancement expenditures. The natural commons has a corollary – the constructed commons.
Development of EAP began around 2015. EAP is one of numerous initiatives of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (“the Partnership”). Context is everything. Thus, one should view EAP as representing a point along a “green infrastructure continuum”. It is the latest evolution in an ongoing process in British Columbia that had its genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
EAP is being developed in stages through demonstration applications that prove out the approach. Completed in 2018, Stage 1 tested the concept for leveraging the BC Assessment database to establish a financial value for the “Commons Asset” (the land comprising the stream corridor and riparian zone). The two demonstration applications were:
- Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) in the Cowichan Valley
- Brooklyn Creek in the Comox Valley
Underway in 2019, Stage 2 will refine the “valuation of worth” methodology (Stage 1) by further validating the EAP through pilots undertaken with collaborating local governments.
Brooklyn Creek in the Comox Valley
The Brooklyn Creek watershed lies within the bounds of three local governments; Town of Comox, City of Courtenay, and the Comox Valley Regional District. Historical land use changes and on-going urbanization have degraded hydrological systems and dependent ecological services throughout the creekshed (stream of the 1st order).
The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considered these impacts. It assessed the current functioning condition of the stream and riparian areas of the creekshed and reviewed the actions of authorities and collaborators to manage and maintain its ecological services.
To Learn More:
Watch the video of Tim Pringle’s presentation to Comox Town Council on September 5, 2018. He is the Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) Initiative.
What the EAP Analysis Revealed
“The EAP analyses have described what the Town’s residents and key intervenors think the Brooklyn creekshed is worth,” stated Tim Pringle. “At once they expect the creekshed to intercept and infiltrate rainwater, to recharge aquifers, to sustain riparian areas with aquatic and terrestrial life, to be a conveyance for stormwater systems and roadside ditches, to lend amenity value to trails and neighbourhoods, attenuate flooding and so on.
“Historic land uses and on-going urbanization continue to degrade this package of ecological services. The Town of Comox and collaborators have recognized the importance of managing and maintaining the creekshed. Since 2006, they have invested more than $725,000 in maintenance and enhancement.
“Through use of the commons asset analysis, which applies BC Assessment data for land values, EAP has estimated the financial value of the stream corridor and adjacent set-back areas at about $2700 per lineal metre. This calculation is important for an asset management strategy.
“Through the multi-year strategy to maintain and enhance the lower catchment of Brooklyn Creek, the Town of Comox and its collaborators have provided a working example of understanding the worth of the creekshed, its hydrology, and ecological systems. This effort confirms the need for similar investment in other catchments of the creekshed.”
Inter-Regional Collaboration Context
“Selection of Brooklyn Creek as an ‘EAP Demonstration Application’ was made possible by the willingness of the Town of Comox to participate in a program funded by the governments of Canada and British Columbia,” reports Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“EAP is one of the twin pillars of the ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’ program. The other pillar is the Water Balance Methodology.
“The insights and understanding gained through this demonstration application will be shared with other local governments.”
TO LEARN MORE:
To read the entire report, download a copy of Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley
To read a synopsis, click on REPORT ON: “Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released September 2018)