August 20, 2020

Advancing a Regional Green Infrastructure Network in Metro Vancouver: Summary Report

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This research project was conducted as a continuation of ongoing ACT research into the value of establishing a regional green infrastructure (GI) network in Metro Vancouver. Phase 1: Still Creek: A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance (2017), and Phase 2: Metro Vancouver 2040: A Mecca of Biodiversity-Led Green Infrastructure (2019), identified an overarching desire amongst governments, professional practitioners, and NGOs for development of an integrated GI and biodiversity framework for planning and decision-making that could bridge across disciplines, jurisdictions, and political boundaries.

To support this goal, Phase 3: Support for a Green Infrastructure Community of Practice in Southwestern BC (2020), was focused on building understanding of the needs of different sectors and departments in order to facilitate knowledge sharing across siloes. ACT worked with six Metro Vancouver Advisory Committees, made up of staff from member jurisdictions spanning expertise in engineering, planning, finance and stormwater, to explore perceptions about GI and nature-based solutions (NbS) and identify gaps and opportunities for action. This research identified ways these topics are being communicated among staff and to the public, barriers and perceived risks of pursuing GI/NbS approaches, and opportunities to further GI and NbS uptake. Presentations and survey responses took place between April and June 2020.

The results indicate five key findings:

1. Uncertainty and knowledge gaps are leading risks and barriers for the implementation of GI and NbS projects.

2. Both costs and funding sources influence the choice to pursue grey rather than green infrastructure projects.

3. Local government staff have limited capacity and time to reduce knowledge gaps and become well-versed in GI and NbS application.

4. Widespread departmental collaboration is necessary to reduce barriers to GI and NbS implementation and meet municipal goals.

5. Clear policy guidance is required.

The report concludes with recommendations, based on these findings, for helpful practices and resources that can help local governments realize the many benefits of GI and NbS, including the larger-scale benefits for low carbon resilience, equity, health, and biodiversity that may be gained by supporting the development of a regional GI network in Metro Vancouver.

Read the report here.