Still Creek: A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

Still Creek: A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

Still Creek: A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

Climate change impacts such as flooding and extreme heat are projected to increase in BC over the next few decades and will be extremely costly for cities to manage. As well, species are struggling to adapt to changing weather patterns and climate extremes combined with the impacts of human development. Planning for resilience while reducing emissions is more important than ever.

Restoring and maintaining ecosystems to respond to these issues is cheaper than using hard infrastructure and has multiple benefits. Ecosystems can absorb and store both flood waters and carbon, and increase resilience while reducing emissions at the same time in other ways as well, such as reducing the impacts of extreme heat and therefore the need for air conditioning. Ecosystem presence has also been shown to increase property values, contribute to physical and mental health, and help other species survive both climate change and the impacts of human development.

Experts are beginning to attribute value to ecosystems at the level of capital assets, acknowledging the benefits provided by water bodies, forests, aquifers and foreshores and the extraordinary costs that would be required to replace them. Cities stand to gain the most from ecosystem benefits, given the localized effects of climate change. But many ecosystems cross municipal boundaries, and cities often lack the capacity for collaboration that is essential to restore and maintain ecosystem health, resulting in fragmentation and loss of these values and benefits.

However, cities can achieve these goals and enjoy the benefits by partnering with neighbouring cities and community members to ensure ecosystem health. This new case study of Still Creek from ACT at SFU’s Pacific Water Research Centre illustrates successful collaboration on ecosystem restoration between the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby in Metro Vancouver. Partnership, creative governance, community engagement, and innovative funding approaches were all essential components that helped the two cities come together to invest in ecosystem health and restore Still Creek, one of only two daylit streams in the City of Vancouver. This collaboration led to many benefits, including the return of spawning salmon, after decades of pollution and neglect.

The results of the project are presented in four products you can access here:

  • A POLICY REPORT that tracks the background decision-making processes over time for the developments in Still Creek, and identifies challenges and the key factors that led to success, as well as recommendations for other municipalities considering action on transboundary ecosystem governance. The report includes several appendices: Literature reviews of ecosystem health indicators and methods for establishing ecosystems goods and services/ecosystem valuation; case studies of two other ecosystem areas that were considered for the project but not pursued (Boundary Bay and North Shore forests); a more detailed breakdown of jurisdictional influences; and an in-depth management history.
  • AN ONLINE STORY MAP that orients the viewer in Still Creek and provides a visual journey through the changes over time as well as the benefits that resulted from restoration efforts
  • AN INFOGRAPHIC showing changes in the creek over time correlated with policy decisions to illustrate direct changes resulting from these measures
  • A WEBINAR describing the concepts and rationale that informed our Still Creek project research, as well as the key research findings. The webinar also features content from ICLEI Canada’s Ewa Jackson, who discusses the role of nature in low carbon resilient communities.

ACT Workshop at Livable Cities Forum 2017

The 2017 Livable Cities Forum will take place September 18-20 in Victoria, BC. As a special pre-event workshop, Green Resilience Strategies and ACT are offering the following:

Taking Action on Green Resilience: Adaptation & Mitigation Synergies
Sunday, September 17
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $45 + tax and fees

It is time to align our efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation planning, to increase the returns on investment in climate change and infrastructure and attract more funding for implementation. Join us to explore “Green Resilience” measures that yield both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits, and discover how they can be financed and implemented across Canada.

Green Resilience Strategies and ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team) at Simon Fraser University have documented examples of synergistic Green Resilience measures in a variety of sectors, including energy, transportation, water and flood management. Participants will learn about green resilience opportunities such as microgrids + efficiency + renewables, green infrastructure, flood-proofing mass transit, building efficiency, and water conservation. Breakout discussions will focus on research, analysis, and policy needs to advance the state of practice and accelerate the financing and implementation of green resilience solutions. Light refreshments will be served.

Click here to register for this workshop.


ACT Webinar: Recording Now Online

On May 2, ACT  gave an enlightening webinar highlighting an example of low carbon resilience work across jurisdictional boundaries.

Low Carbon Resilience Case Study: Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance in Still Creek
Chloe Boyle, Researcher, ACT; Graduate Student, SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management
Deborah Harford, Executive Director, ACT
Edward Nichol, Senior Researcher, ACT

In this webinar, the presenters described ACT’s policy findings from a case study of Still Creek, one of only two daylit streams in the City of Vancouver that flows across the border with the City of Burnaby, and where, thanks to years of collaborative restoration, salmon have returned to spawn for the past five years. ICLEI Canada’s Ewa Jackson contributed information on connections with ICLEI’s expertise on Local Governments and Biodiversity Management, and provide details of the upcoming Livable Cities Forum on Low Carbon Resilience.

The recording and presentation slides from this webinar are now available online via the Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP).

Click here to view the webinar recording.

Click here to view the presentation slides.


Re-energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future

In Fall 2016, Natural Resources Canada commissioned Sustainable Canada Dialogues to produce an independent, scholarly report on the transition to low-carbon energy.

The report was developed to examine how Canada could transition to low-carbon energy systems while remaining globally competitive.  Re-Energizing Canada: Pathways to a Low-Carbon Future, provides independent academic input to Generation Energy, a national dialogue on Canada’s path to a low-carbon future launched by Natural Resources Canada on April 21, 2017. The work of the academic experts in the context of Generation Energy highlights the importance that science and research must play in informing the public policy debate on Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. It is an important contribution to the range of views and opinions on how Canada can create the affordable energy and innovative jobs Canadians want.

According to the scholars, Canada should accelerate its shift to a low-carbon economy by reducing overall energy demand through energy efficiency and conservation, increasing electrification and switching to low-carbon-emitting sources of electricity and progressively replacing high-carbon petroleum-based fuels with low-carbon ones.

Click here to read more about the report.

Click here to read the group’s press release.


Read Now: The Green Infrastructure Guide

Published in May 2007, The Green Infrastructure Guide remains an invaluable reference document for those who embrace a ‘design with nature’ philosophy.

The Guide led directly to development of the Shared Responsibility Matrix which embodies a way-of-thinking that is timeless. The Guide illuminates the early history of green infrastructure implementation in British Columbia, serves as a frame of reference for judging progress over the past decade, and can inform current and future actions by local governments.

The Guide – A Backdrop for Conversations
“The Green Infrastructure Guide traces some of BC’s local government experience in implementing engineered green infrastructure designs,” wrote Susan Rutherford, Guide author. At the time, she was on the steering committee of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, representing West Coast Environmental Law.

“The Guide’s purpose is to encourage successful designs, by reporting on what the legal and policy strategies are, what some of the implementation hurdles (and solutions) have been, and how they have been effective in achieving sustainability goals.

“The intent is to support the efforts of local government officials and decision-makers to green their community’s infrastructure, by sharing tools and the collective wisdom that have been gained as a result of implementation experiences from around the province.

“The Guide is designed to serve as a useful backdrop for conversations to take place both within and beyond the local government’s planning department and legal advisors.”

The Shared Responsibility Matrix
Following release of the Green Infrastructure Guide, and over a period of three years, the Shared Responsibility Matrix decision tool evolved from a set of generic “what we would like to do” questions that were framed through the eyes of practitioners in local government.

“All of us have an impact on the land, on the water, and on the way things look. Each party in the process has a responsibility. There are solutions to be found if all parties 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,” Susan Rutherford would explain to audiences at outreach events organized under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.

Click here to read the Guide, and click here to read more about the Shared Responsibility Matrix.

Free Public Talk: The Octopus’s Garden? Planning for Sea Level Rise

The Pacific Water Research Centre in the Faculty of Environment at Simon Fraser University is pleased to invite you to a free public talk and discussion, The Octopus’s Garden? Planning for Sea Level Rise.

Who will be tending your garden when the ocean rises? An octopus? A seastar? Imagine the City of Vancouver without the sea wall.

Join Angela Danyluk, Sustainability Specialist with the City of Vancouver; John Readshaw, Manager of Coastal Engineering at SNC-Lavalin; and Andy Yan, Director, The City Program, SFU to learn how municipalities and coastal communities are preparing from a metre rise of sea level by 2100.

When: Thursday, June 8th, World Oceans Day, 7pm – 9pm
Where: Vancouver Aquarium
Reservations: This talk is free and open to everyone. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Click here to reserve your seat. 


the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions
the City of Vancouver
the Vancouver Aquarium
SFU’s Pacific Water Research Centre and the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT)
This event is the first in a series of talks on sea level rise that ACT is co-hosting with SFU’s Pacific Water Research Centre, PICS, the City of Vancouver, and the Aquarium. Further details coming soon.

Webinar: How Sustainable is our Global Climate Ethos?

The Security & Sustainability Forum presents:

How Sustainable is our Global Climate Ethos?
with Katharine Hayhoe and Alice Hill 

Thursday, June 8
1:15 – 2:45 pm ET

Building on decades of work across the globe by the public and private sectors, has a shared global climate ethos — a sense of collective commitment and common purpose — reached a tipping point?
  • Are the Paris Agreement and the growing number of cities adopting carbon-based energy goals evidence of that? How durable are these actions?
  • Is a sense of common purpose sustainable without US federal government coordination and leadership? What roles do sub-national and municipal governments play?
  • How can business, security, religious, and civil society actors continue and even accelerate efforts to reduce emissions? Can they work together to avoid the worst climate impacts?
  • Is the global commitment to climate solutions shallow or deep?
  • How can moral, scientific and political imperatives find common ground?
  • Does the global climate ethos include extracting, storing and reusing carbon already in the atmosphere?
  • Where do opportunities for collaborative innovation exist?
Join Arizona State University and global governance, business, science, policy and faith leaders in a 90 minute webinar to explore the depth and breadth of a global climate ethos and the direction of plausible, innovative climate action emerging across sectors and among global societies.
Katharine Hayhoe is a professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior’s South-Central Climate Science Center and  founder and CEO of ATMOS Research.  Katharine’s research  focuses on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment.

Alice C. Hill is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution where her work focuses on building resilience to destabilizing catastrophic events, including the impacts of climate change. Prior to joining Hoover, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy for the National Security Council.  While at the White House, Alice led the development of national policy regarding national security and climate change, incorporation of climate resilience considerations into international development, Federal efforts in the Arctic, building national capabilities for long-term drought resilience, and establishment of national risk management standards for three of the most damaging natural hazards.

Transport Canada Adaptation Assessment

Transport Canada has released an adaptation assessment, now available online.

The report, Climate Risks & Adaptation Practices for the Canadian Transportation Sector 2016, presents the current state of knowledge about climate risks to the Canadian transportation sector, and identifies existing or potential adaptation practices.

The report includes six regional chapters and one urban chapter which reflect the different climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and opportunities across Canada. Adaptation approaches are discussed and case studies highlight adaptation actions and practices. A synthesis chapter brings together the report’s key findings.

Co-led by Transport Canada and Natural Resources Canada, the development of this report synthesized over 700 publications and involved 42 lead and contributing authors, and over 228 expert reviewers.

Click here to read the report. 


Adaptation Report: Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group

The Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group (IBWG) of Canada’s Climate Change and Adaptation Platform has released a Adaptation State of Play report.

The Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group (IBWG) was established by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and Engineers Canada, in consultation with Natural Resources Canada, in 2013 and is part of Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform. The IBWG’s purpose is to build capacity, generate evidence and provide outreach to increase the capability of infrastructure managers, municipalities, builders, insurers, engineers and other relevant stakeholders to adapt, and facilitate adaptation to climate change. The IBWG is comprised of federal, provincial, private industry and non-government representatives working in the field of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

The Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group State of Play Report provides an overview of state of adaptation in Canada for the infrastructure and building sectors. The project has drawn on input from a variety of key infrastructure and adaptation experts in Canada, literature reviews, and input from the IBWG. Various gaps and opportunities have been identified as well as potential options for addressing them. Amec Foster Wheeler and Credit Valley Conservation were lead authors for the report.

This report is intended to inform the work of the IBWG, and serves as one of many sources of input to Working Group discussions on their work plan for the next several years.

Click here to read this report.


Climate Crisis and Journalism: Panel Event

Join SFU’s Communications department for a special roundtable discussion about reporting news in the age of climate change.

Climate Crisis and Journalism: A Roundtable on Rethinking Media for Planetary Emergency 

Monday, May 15
5:00 – 7:00 pm
SFU Harbour Centre, Room 7000

Chair: Bob Anderson, SFU School of Communications

Discussants: Bob Hackett and Shane Gunster, SFU School of Communication; co-authors of Journalism and Climate Crisis (Routledge, 2017)

Special Guests: Jennifer Morneau, Reporter, Burnaby Now newspaper & Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor Local 2000; Linda Solomon Wood, Publisher, National Observer; Andrew Frank, Public Relations and Environmental Protection Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University.



New Paper: Ocean Acidification in Canada’s Coastal Waters

Check out this new paper from the Canadian Climate Forum:

While the freeze and thaw of late winter was underway, a team of ocean experts was hard at work on the Canadian Climate Forum’s Issue Paper #6, Spring 2017:

Ocean Acidification in Canada’s Coastal Waters
Climate Change, Processes and Impacts

This comprehensive Issue Paper provides an excellent overview of the causes, the processes and the impacts of acidification on Canada’s three coastal oceans. It also reveals some of the socio-economic impacts, and offers important recommendations for action to address this very serious threat to the health and productivity of our oceans.

CCF thanks co-authors Dr. Kenneth Denman and Dr. Robie Macdonald for their brilliance, as well as the expert reviewers: Paul Lyon; Dr. Kumiko Azetsu-Scott; Dr. Pierre Pepin; Dr. Maurice Levasseur and Dr. Thomas Pedersen.

This Issue Paper was made possible by the generous support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Click here to read this paper.


Webinar: Antarctic Sea Ice Variability in the Southern Ocean-Climate System

Thursday, May 4
2:00 pm ET

Register now to join a free webinar to recap the themes discussed at the Polar Research Board workshop Antarctic Sea Ice Variability in the Southern Ocean-Climate System, and explore new findings that have emerged since the workshop took place.

The workshop, which took place in January 2016, focused on the potential mechanisms driving increases in the extent and concentration of the sea ice surrounding Antarctic from the late 1970s until 2015—increases that were not reproduced by climate models, and that came despite the overall warming of the global climate and the region. Leading scientists discussed the possible drivers of changes in Antarctic sea ice and ways to better understand the complex relationship between Antarctic sea ice and the broader ocean-climate system (summarized in the Workshop Proceedings).

The webinar will feature presentations from the chair of the workshop planning committee, Julienne Stroeve of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and from committee members Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, and Marilyn Raphael of the University of California, Los Angeles. Please tune in!

Click here to register.


Job Opportunity: Dialogue and Public Engagement Coordinator

Civic Engage has an exciting job opening as part of a Canada-wide engagement project on our country’s energy future:

Temporary Employment Opportunity:
The Centre for Dialogue’s Civic Engage Program is hiring a Dialogue and Public Engagement Coordinator for an exciting, pan-Canadian engagement project. The Dialogue and Public Engagement Coordinator will help to implement participatory research projects with stakeholders and members of the public through the delivery and support of public engagement initiatives. The main focus will be on supporting five Regional Citizens’ Dialogues and one National Citizens’ Dialogue that the Centre is implementing in partnership with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) as part of the Generation Energy public consultation.The dialogues will be deliberative in nature, resulting in high-quality citizen input into Canada’s energy future,with a specific focus on the 2030-2050 time frame for meeting Canada’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets while maintaining a healthy economy.
About Civic Engage:
Civic Engage formalizes the commitment of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue to increase the capacity of governments and citizens to work collaboratively on policy decisions. The program leverages the Centre for Dialogue’s status as a neutral facilitator and reputation as a globally-recognized centre for knowledge and practice in dialogue. Focus areas include capacity building, direct services, research, and public forums.
About Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue:
Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue uses dialogue to generate non-partisan and constructive communication around difficult topics. We partner with government, business, and community groups to explore critical issues that impact the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of our communities.

New Report: Building Change – Towards Sustainable Communities in BC

Check out this new resource from the Real Estate Foundation of BC:

Building Change presents a case for sustainable built environments, summarizes public opinion poll findings, and presents a possible path forward: six priorities for action and a model for cross-sectoral collaboration.

Priorities for Action

  1. Align financial rules with sustainability objectives to reflect long-term costs and benefits in government pricing/fees, tax levers, accounting and asset management.
  2. Support and coordinate with NGOs and other change agents through funding, shared research, monitoring and collaboration.
  3. Lead with First Nations peoples.
  4. Make a case for senior government funding in sustainable development: transit and active transportation, green building and infrastructure, affordable housing, climate action.
  5. Support smart growth by integrating land use and transportation to achieve co-benefits.
  6. Build public awareness and support for sustainable built environments.

Click here to read the report and learn more. 


Webinar: Low Carbon Resilience and Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

ACT experts will be presenting at an exciting upcoming webinar:

Low Carbon Resilience and Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance
Presenters: Chloe Boyle, Edward Nichol and Deborah Harford (ACT) and Ewa Jackson (ICLEI Canada)
Tuesday, May 2
1:00 – 2:00 ET

Urban ecosystems play a key role in combining climate change adaptation and mitigation – or “low carbon resilience” – including flood and carbon absorption and passive cooling, as well as benefits for biodiversity, property values and human health. But governance challenges can arise where ecosystems cross municipal boundaries, and how we respond to and plan for these issues has profound significance for the health of many urban ecosystems and their climate co-benefits.

This webinar presents ACT’s policy findings from a case study of Still Creek, one of only two daylit streams in the City of Vancouver that flows across the border with the City of Burnaby, and where, thanks to years of collaborative restoration, salmon have returned to spawn for the past five years. ICLEI Canada’s Ewa Jackson will contribute information on connections with ICLEI’s expertise on Local Governments and Biodiversity Management, and provide details of the upcoming Livable Cities Forum on Low Carbon Resilience.

Click here to register.


Launch: Adaptation Equity Portal

The Georgetown Climate Center recently launched an Adaptation Equity Portal within its Adaptation Clearinghouse to help communities plan for and develop policies that integrate social and environmental justice.

The portal provides more than 200 case studies, plans, tools, and other resources that help communities identify ways to protect the safety and livelihoods of those most affected by climate change.

The portal was launched during a March 30 webinar. This webinar featured examples of on-the-ground efforts to integrate equity into adaptation planning and a demonstration of the Adaptation Equity Portal. It also included a discussion with representatives from the Georgetown Climate Center’s equity advisory group who informed the development of the portal and the recent equity report, and who are supporting equitable adaptation work in their own communities.

To view the portal, click here.

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