Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peer-Based Learning Will Help Local Governments Implement ‘Watershed Blueprints’ in BC

Conditions recently imposed by the BC Minister of Environment in Metro Vancouver provide a driver for a ‘course correction’ in the way Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs) are developed. To fill a professional development need, the Partnership for Water Sustainability is spearheading a peer-based learning program. The centrepiece is a 2-day course titled ISMP Course Correction: Achieve More with Less. The City of Surrey will host the first course on November 9-10.
“An ISMP is a potentially powerful tool. It can influence other municipal processes for the better. It can generate the blueprint for truly integrated and coordinated action at a watershed scale,” states Carrie Baron, Surrey’s Drainage and Environment Manager. "The course will guide land use and infrastructure professionals through the stages and steps in developing a plan that is balanced, landscape-based and financially sustainable.” 

The experience of local government champions who have developed precedent-setting watershed plans will provide the curriculum backbone for the 2-day course. Carrie Baron is a lead member of the team that will share their experiences in this course for water resource, infrastructure and land use professionals. To download a copy of the Curriculum Overview, and to learn more about the course, click here. 

Local governments have many competing priorities. Everyone is challenged to do more with less, and get it done. The course will demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, alignment and integration: Establish the vision, set the target, and then implement.

News Release #2011-31
June 28, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"British Columbia's ‘Bowker Creek Blueprint’ will serve as a positive model for many," says author Eva Kras

Implementing A New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration
The experience of the Bowker Creek Initiative in British Columbia's Capital Region demonstrates what can be accomplished through a ‘regional team approach’. This unique multi-jurisdictional effort has produced the Bowker Creek Blueprint. This is a 100-Year Action Plan to systematically and incrementally restore the watershed landscape in the heart of the Capital Region on Vancouver Island. 

"I have been following the incredible successes you have been experiencing on the west coast," states Eva Kras, a Past-President of the Canadian Society of Ecological Economics (CANSEE) and author of The Blockage. Eva Kras is also president of the International Lerma-Chapala Foundation, an international non-government organization. 
"I would really like to take this opportunity to CONGRATULATE ALL of those who have been involved in this most recent 'breakthrough', the Bowker Creek Blueprint. This is truly impressive and hopefully you are sharing it with other parts of Canada, as well as abroad. Many will be fascinated with the ‘governance’ issues alone. This example of what can be done will serve as a positive model for many."
Bowker shows how to unblock "The Blockage" "It is generally accepted that we have a serious worldwide crisis related to environmental breakdown, as well as a rapid deterioriation in accompanying social and economic areas. In the midst of this crisis most major decision makers seem unable to find viable solutions despite developing sustainable sounding policies. Where is the blockage?," writes Eva Kras in her book, published in 2007. The Bowker Creek Initiative demonstrates how collaboration and a top-down and bottom-up approach can "unblock the blockage".

To Learn More: Click on Capital Region’s 'Bowker Creek Blueprint' demonstrates that "Outreach is a Powerful Tool"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Capital Region’s ‘Bowker Creek Blueprint’ demonstrates that “Outreach is a Powerful Tool”

The Bowker Creek Initiative in British Columbia’s Capital Region is a unique multi-jurisdictional effort. Four local governments, community groups, post-secondary institutions and private citizens are collaborating to implement A 100-Year Action Plan to Restore the Bowker Creek Watershed.

The Bowker Creek Blueprint demonstrates the power of a ‘top-down and bottom-up strategy’ – that is, major breakthroughs happen when champions in local government and in the community share a vision and align their efforts.

"The arts are an effective way to engage the broader community,” states Soren Henrich, a community leader whose personal passion is organizing pennant printing workshops to connect people with the watershed. “Community celebration events draw people out and bring them together. Our experience is that the community events are the forums for engagement.”

“People eagerly embrace the opportunities for engagement and education. They really want to share their thoughts and experiences. Residents have a stake in restoring watershed health. There is so much experience that we can mine. We who live in the watershed are the experts.”

Learn More: To download a PDF copy of the WaterBucket article that elaborates on this provincially significant initiative, click on Capital Region’s 'Bowker Creek Blueprint' Demonstrates that "Outreach is a Powerful Tool". And to access the Bowker Creek homepage on WaterBucket, click here.

ISMP COURSE CORRECTION: A decade ago, local governments in British Columbia were venturing into uncharted waters when undertaking watershed-based plans called Integrated Stormwater Management Plans, and known by the acronym ISMP.

The Bower Creek Initiative has gone well beyond any other plan in terms of how it has achieved consensus; and how it has galvanized commitment to move from planning to action on the ground. It is informing a provincial ‘course correction’ in how to develop an ISMP that is affordable and effective, and create a legacy.

The Bowker Creek Blueprint is referenced throughout Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia. There is now clear guidance for aligning local actions with provincial and regional goals to ‘design with nature’ so that British Columbians can create greener communities, live water smart and prepare for climate change.

News Release #2011-30
June 21, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 Comox Valley Seminar Series is Springboard to Vancouver Island Economic Summit in October

Comox Valley Local Governments Showcase “A Regional Response to Infrastructure Liability”
Through a professional development program, the four Comox Valley local governments are aligning efforts, building leadership capacity, and striving for a consistent regional approach to Sustainable Service Delivery. The program is built around an annual seminar series.

“In 2011, our focus is on the unfunded ‘infrastructure liability’ confronting all local governments. One of the foundation pieces underpinning the series is expressed this way: All those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. The players include land use and infrastructure professionals,” states Glenn Westendorp, Public Works Superintendent with the Town of Comox. He is Chair of the 2011 Seminar Series.

“We have moved beyond continuing education solely for the purpose of professional development. The 2011 Series is aligned with the recently adopted Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Sustainability Strategy. We are exploring what implementation of regional policy means on the ground. We are working towards a Joint Report on A Regional Response to Infrastructure Liability.”

A FORUM WITHIN THE SUMMIT: The Comox Valley accomplishment will be showcased at the 2011 State of the Island Economic Summit in October. This flagship event of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) creates an opportunity to share the Comox Valley experience Island-wide.

“By showcasing the Comox Valley outcomes at the Summit, we hope to inform and educate elected folks and others on Vancouver Island about the ‘infrastructure liability’ and the choices that need to be made," reports Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“These choices encompass life-cycle cost and level-of-service. The two are interconnected. The Comox Valley is leading the way in demonstrating what can be accomplished through a regional team approach. Four local governments and the Comox Valley Land Trust are striving to work across boundaries; and walk the talk in applying the ‘4Cs’ – that is, communicate, cooperate, coordinate and collaborate.”

To learn more, click on 2011Comox Valley Seminar Series is a Springboard to Vancouver Island EconomicSummit to download a report-style PDF document version of the complete story posted on the Water Bucket website.

News Release #2011-29
June 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

BC Environment Minister Strengthens Metro Vancouver’s Visionary Plan for Managing Rainwater Resources

Two years in the making, the Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan (ILWRMP) establishes 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.

In a letter to the Metro Vancouver Board, BC Environment Minister Terry Lake commended the region’s plan while at the same time advising that it does not fully meet his requirements. So he has strengthened the plan by imposing conditions that expand the actions of the member municipalities vis-à-vis rainwater management.

“Member municipalities will develop a coordinated program to monitor stormwater and assess and report the implementation and effectiveness of Integrated Storm Water Management Plans (ISMP). The program will use a weight-of-evidence performance measurement approach,” stated the Environment Minister.
The Ministerial conditions link land use planning to the direction provided by the ISMPs. They also focus attention on how the degree, type and location of land development can affect the long-term health of the watershed. 

To learn more, first click on BC Environment Minister Strengthens Metro Vancouver’s Visionary Plan for Managing Rainwater Resources and then click on “ISMP Course Correction” aligns with Metro Vancouver’s proposed Ecological Health Plan to read two supporting stories posted on the Water Bucket website.

News Release #2011-28
June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Convening for Action in Metro Vancouver to Green the Urban Landscape and Protect Watershed Health

ISMP Course Correction
The genesis for ISMPs (Integrated Stormwater Management Plans) was a desire to integrate the community, engineering, planning and environmental perspectives. In 2001, Metro Vancouver's member municipalities recognized the benefits of this approach and made a legal commitment to the Province to have ISMPs in place by 2014 for their watersheds.

Unintended Consequences: Within a few years, however, it was evident to many in local government that the way ISMPs were being developed was resulting in unintended consequences, that is: 
  • ISMPs were identifying extensive and costly drainage system upgrades;
  • proposed multi-million dollar capital plans were not affordable; and
  • municipalities were faced with an unfunded ‘infrastructure liability’.    
In February 2011, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia released Integrated Rainwater Management Planning: Summary Report for ISMP Course Correction Series. This guidance document is intended to help municipalities do business differently so that they can protect and/or restore watershed health. 

Achieve More With Less: The Partnership's vision is that an ISMP Course Correction will help municipalities achieve more with less, and reduce their infrastructure liability. During the period March  through June, the Partnership released a series of articles that build on this theme:
  1. Water Balance Model Partners Forum will showcase vision for ‘WBM Express for Homeowners’
  2. Water Balance Model Partners are charter members of the ‘Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia’
  3. Community of Users Inform Platform Conversion for Water Balance Model
  4. Integrated Rainwater Management: Municipalities Can Achieve More With Less
  5. ISMP Course Correction” will help Metro Vancouver municipalities fulfil regulatory commitments and “achieve more with less”
  6. Partnership announces that Water Balance Model “Version 2.1” will go live in Fall 2011
  7. "ISMP Course Correction" aligns with Metro Vancouver's proposed Ecological Health Plan
  8. Partnership Releases Rollout Plan for Re-Built Water Balance Model
  9. BC Environment Minister Strengthens Metro Vancouver's Visionary Plan for Managing Rainwater Resources
An ISMP that is truly integrated would provide a clear picture of how local governments can apply land use planning tools to create a future watershed condition desired by all.

"Choosing a Green Infrastructure Framework? Consider Light Imprint", says Thomas Low

Light Imprint for Traditional Neighbourhood Development
"Light Imprint is an intrinsically green design strategy, producing a compact, connected design that respects nature and site terrain. It recognizes the importance of public civic spaces and connectivity. This approach developed from a need to coordinate engineering concerns with traditional neighborhood design principles," write Thomas Low and his four co-authors in an article published in the March-April 2011 issue of Stormwater Magazine.

LAYING LIGHTLY ON THE LAND: "The term Light Imprint basically means ‘laying lightly on the land.’ And that’s where the name came from, it’s just thinking that way. Respecting the natural drainage and topography in a way that actually makes more sense," Low  explained in a recent radio interview.

"People think well that sounds like it’s more expensive. But we’re finding out is, that because we’re actually using less land, we’re actually connecting things in a better way, we’re actually figuring out that it’s actually less expensive to do, and it’s better for the environment, and a growing number of people really want to live in places like this. So it’s really a win-win-win opportunity."

THE BENEFITS OF 'LIGHT IMPRINT": "The success of Light Imprint can be measured in studies of stormwater runoff quality, quantity discharge volume rates, and percolation rates that promote aquifer recharge. Studies have found measurable positive progress in all these categories with the use of Light Imprint," the authors state in Stormwater Magazine.

"It will take time for Light Imprint to become the norm rather than the exception. Designers and developers may not be able to implement all Light Imprint elements right away, but they could implement them in incremental stages as certain components are approved. Because of the pace of development and the need for projects to succeed, it is especially important to plan for incremental implementation," conclude the authors."

LEARN MORE: To read the complete article as published in Stormwater Magazine, click on Choosing a Green Infrastructure Framework? Consider Light Imprint. Also, click on Light Imprint Handbook Integrates Sustainable Green Infrastructure and Community Design to read a story posted on the Water Bucket website.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Qualicum Beach hosts 2011 Saving Small Towns Conference and Workshops

A Workshop on 'Sustainable Service Delivery' will be of interest to Local Governments 
The Saving Small Towns Conference is a two-day event with concurrent streams of presentations covering the economic, environmental and social aspects of what makes small communities special; and what continues to threaten them.

“2011 will mark the fifth Saving Small Towns Conference and, as in the past, this event will continue to bring new and relevant issues to the floor for understanding, discussion and debate,” states Mac Fraser, Chief Administrative Officer of the Powell River Regional District, and conference founder. Mac Fraser was also a founding member of the CAVI Leadership Team.

“The conference will be followed by a day of workshops. Of particular relevance to local government is one featuring the Province’s Glen Brown. His session will be about Sustainable Service Delivery.”

To learn more, click on Qualicum Beach hosts 2011 Saving Small Towns Conference and Workshops on June 23-24-25 to read a supporting story posted on the Water Bucket website.

News Release #2011-27
June 9, 2011