Still Creek: A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

Climate change impacts such as flooding and extreme heat will increase and be costly for cities to manage. Supporting ecosystem health will be key.

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 floodwaters 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:

LCR and Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance: A Case Study of Still Creek

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