AT THE BOWKER CREEK FORUM: “You have to set really clear targets. And you have to clearly define responsibilities – who does what,” stated Rémi Dubé at the launch of the Topsoil Primer Set (February 2010)

Note to Reader:

An absorbent topsoil layer has emerged as a fundamental building block for achieving water sustainability outcomes through implementation of green infrastructure practices.

The Bowker Creek Forum was the venue for the provincial launch of the Topsoil Primer Set. Susan Rutherford presented the Law & Policy Primer; and then Rémi Dubé presented the Technical Primer. Susan and Rémi represented the Green Infrastructure Partnership.

The ‘Topsoil Primer Set’ synthesized the pioneering experience of the City of Courtenay, City of Surrey and District of North Vancouver.  This was the foundation piece for the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit, a joint effort of the Partnership for Water Sustainability and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, and released in 2012.

Topsoil Primer Set

The Topsoil Primer Set is an important first step in developing a suite of practical ‘green’ tools that will help advance a new culture for watershed protection and landscape restoration.

Susan Rutherford of West Coast Environmental Law and Rémi Dubé of the City of Surrey were the co-leads for the topsoil initiative. Susan synthesized the experience of participating municipalities in order to create the Law & Policy Primer. Rémi was responsible for the Technical Primer.

“We realized there could be a benefit to providing municipal staff and the professional design community with a succinct statement of all of the legal, policy and technical ‘essential elements’ necessary to successfully implement a specific green infrastructure objective,” stated Susan Rutherford.

To Learn More:

Download the Topsoil Primer Set:

Then, download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation titled Just How Do You Obtain a Performing Topsoil Layer for Rainwater Infiltration – Law & Policy Primer (0.4MB PDF), by Susan Rutherford, Staff Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law.

As well, download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation titled Just How Do You Obtain a Performing Topsoil Layer for Rainwater Infiltration – Technical Primer (3.4MB PDF), by Rémi Dubé, Drainage Planning Manager at the City of Surrey.

Watch Rémi Dubé on YouTube

Remi Dube explains City of Surrey involvement: “In the mid-1990s, there was a major shift in Surrey and in other Metro Vancouver municipalities. There was a major push for sustainable development. This was consistent with the City’s Natural Drainage Policy.”

Remi Dube explains where the Primer fits: “The development process is our opportunity to make the change to protect our watercourses. In each of our watershed plans, we always recommend increased topsoil depth. So the City volunteered to develop a primer for implementation.”

Remi Dube explains what is topsoil: “Right off the bat, an issue that came up was the question of what exactly is topsoil. Depending on who you talk to, topsoil means different things to different people.”

Remi Dube elaborates on areas of responsibility: “The City sets the targets. It is then up to the developer to find ways to meet those targets. In some cases, there is a minimum target. In other cases, they may have to beyond the minimum.”

Remi Dube describes challenges: “From a drainage perspective, we are very limited with regards to topsoil. It is therefore important that we apply commonsense.”

Remi Dube describes topsoil enforcement in Morgan Heights: “We have a good example in South Surrey where the developer took it upon himself to ensure that the topsoil was in place.”

Remi Dube summarizes key messages: “You have to set really clear targets. And you have to clearly define responsibilities – who does what.”