Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Values Vancouver Island

The Green Values Vancouver Island (GVVI) initiative was launched in 2006 by the Governors of the Real Estate Foundation of BC as a way to encourage local governments, landowners, developers and consultants to learn about and implement approaches to use and conservation of land that acheive economic, social and governance objectives while minimizing or eliminating harm to the ecology that underlies the well being of Island communities.

Vancouver Island represents a singular confluence of interests and opportunities. In a province comprised mostly of publicly held lands, the south-western quarter of the Island has a relative abundance of large, privately held parcels. This portion of the Island is also the focus of considerable market interest (locally, regionally, and internationally) in real estate and development. As well, communities in the region host a number of well-established and reputable stewardship and conservation (S&C) organizations. Complementing this strength is a growing body of private sector developers and land-owners proposing and building "green" or "sustainable" type projects.

Through the Foundation's historic and ongoing investment in improved land use practices at the local government and S&C levels, it was apparent that many communities are struggling to deal effectively with the pressures of growth and development. GVVI is envisioned as a way to support local public, C&S, and private sector leadership and to advance the level of development practices on the Island towards sustainability.

The Foundation's goal with the GVVI initiative is to persuade local government bodies to adopt "green value" approaches when considering proposals for development. As well as serving the ends of community sustainability, the Foundation believes that such approaches serve the long-term purposes/ends of all who work with the land base, from stream stewards to planners to real estate brokers. Effective, long term husbandry of the source of community well being on Vancouver Island demands that all practitioners attend to sustaining the myriad forms of wealth and natural services provided by the land base.

The Foundation will pursue it's GVVI goal through a number of mechanisms. These include:
* Focusing on innovation and success in GV approaches
* Providing research and educational materials to support practitioners and decision-makers in improving GV approaches and practices
* Educating local government officials and staff, land owners and developers and others about GV approaches
* Finding the delivery mechanisms to do this educational work effectively, which is why the Foundation is
o Working with Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) on this initiative: a range of educational programs and services provided. The Ministries of Community Development and Environment together with the Foundation fund CAVI.
o Involved with the Gaining Ground Victoria summits: Gaining Ground allows the Foundation to develop "round table" events for an important and interested audience of practitioners
o Ulitizing expertise of West Coast Environmental Law Association and other NGOs.
* Expanding our audience incrementally:
o Local government officials and staff
o Developers
o Stewardship and Conservation organizations
* Co-funding projects: this allows the Foundation to play an influential role, at the same time as it allows the Foundation to be influenced by the knowledge and experience of other partners

Influencing local government practices is a process of encouraging and developing leadership. The Governors of the Real Estate Foundation understand that such a process will take time and significant investment of resources. Initially, the Governors have committed to a 3-5 year GVVI program, with a current horizon of 2010 or 2011.

Critical to the long term success of the GVVI initiative is a practicable definition of "green values." As a working definition, the Real Estate Foundation of BC proposes that "green value" strategies may include any or all of the following:
* Recognition of landscape scale natural, ecological, and human values; and protection of same. Examples are riparian and wildlife corridors, wildlife habitat, soils quality, First Nations cultural sites, etc.
* Appreciation of watershed ecological values including sensitive natural areas, groundwater recharge areas, flora and fauna species, lands with agricultural use/potential etc. For further information consult Nature Without Borders, The Comox Valley Land Trust Regional Conservation Strategy .
* Green infrastructure approaches to locating development on one or more sites in a parcel of land proposed for development, dedication of parks and natural areas, protection of agricultural lands, retaining rainwater on site (re-infiltration strategies) and water sustainability, etc.
* Use of the "Eight Pillars of a Sustainable Community*" for planning; "these are fundamental to future prosperity, quality of life and reducing the ecological footprint" (of settlement activity).
1. Complete, compact, liveable neighbourhoods
2. Efficient, innovative transportation with options to using automobiles
3. Advancing green buildings and site design
4. Efficient, integrated infrastructure
5. Open space and local food systems
6. Strong and healthy communities with expressed commons values (cultural services, attainable housing, attractive public realm, etc.)
7. Sustainable economic development
8. Progressive and integrated management.
(*For further reference see Approaches to Growth Management for sustainable Communities in the Comox Valley, prepared by Holland Barrs Planning Group & Chislett Manson for the "Comox Valley Sustainable Development Strategy Project.")

Please contact Tim Pringle, Director of Special Programs at tpringle (at)

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1 comment:

  1. "acheive economic, social and governance objectives while minimizing or eliminating harm to the ecology that underlies the well being of Island communities."

    In this statement you belie your name. Your values are primarily economic, and it is implicit in the statement about "minimizing" that you accept harm to the ecology.

    If you don't want to be accused of "greenwashing" I'd get your ecological values right up front. As Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Inc says, "If you're not about preserving and protecting the resource base upon which you depend, you're not Green."



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