How can we build our homes and communities so that they co-exist harmoniously with Nature? What does it mean to create a sustainable house, a sustainable community, a sustainable city? For each additional day that we live, design and build unsustainably, we pull another fibre out of the fabric of Earth’s ecosystems.

Bamberton - Sustainable Resource Management


Lake Oliphant is 4km due west of Bamberton, north of Spectacle Lake. It was created to supply water to the cement works in the '30s, and is a proven source for Bamberton's needs. Computer modelling included all historical drought years and weather data back to 1913. House construction would stop if water demand ever outstripped supply. Full engineering studies have been provided to the CVRD and Provincial authorities on water supply and demand, along with a full water efficiency plan. Bamberton also owns Kingzett Lake as a back-up water supply, but has no plans to use it. Bamberton won't draw any water from the Greater Victoria Water District lands.


In order to maintain a constant supply from Oliphant Lake to Bamberton in the 5 summer months when demand outstrips the lake's ability to recharge, planning has focussed on ways to use water efficiently, so that conservation measures such as lawn sprinkling bans will not be required. All houses will be metered, and equipped with high efficiency faucets and showerheads, and toilets using less than 6 litres per flush. US studies show that consumption drops 37-48% when efficient fixtures are installed. 25% of the total lot (about 50% of the non-paved area) must be landscaped with native species not requiring additional water, resulting in a 50% savings in outdoor use. The net result of these measures will be that daily use at Bamberton is approx 289 litres per person per day, which can be supplied by the current storage capacity of Lake Oliphant. Current daily consumption in Greater Victoria is 500-636 litres, in the CVRD 407 litres. The Canadian average consumption is 350 litres per day.


Bamberton's waste management system is based on a system known as 'Wet-Dry', developed in Oslo, Norway, and piloted in Guelph, Ontario. Similar schemes are operating in both Gold River and Port Moody. To maximize the amount of material collected for recycling, people will sort their garbage into three bags - wet compostables, dry wastes and real 'garbage', such as sanitary products, diapers and kitty litter. All wet wastes will be composted, either at home, or in a civic composting area where it will be mixed with the sewage sludges to produce Bamberton compost, for sale back to residents at cost. All dry wastes will be re-sorted in a depot so that all the metal, glass, plastic and paper can be recycled. Up to 97% of the dry waste is uncontaminated when picked up in this sort of system. Residents will pay directly by the bag for the pick-up of the wet and dry sorted wastes, so waste reduction at home will be well rewarded.Businesses will be treated the same way. A construction waste plan will require recycling of over 90% of the construction waste stream before occupancy permits will be issued. The Wet/Dry system will leave just 2-3 lbs per person per week of non-recyclable residuals, which will be landfilled as part of the CVRD solid waste strategy.


Cowichan Valley 13%

Victoria 16%

Gr Vancouver 37%

Seattle 39%

Bamberton 87%*

* Projected


Refuse, Reduce and ReUse will be the 3 R's at Bamberton, to help reduce the enormous amount of waste we generate daily. A recently initiated Bamberton pilot involving 60 families is demonstrating that over 95% of household waste can be recycled if sorting is done diligently (as it would be at a municipal plant). Three of the pilot households (12 people) have reduced their waste to a total 15 lbs of non-recyclable wastes a month. Initial results show that conscious shopping can reduce food packaging waste by 50%. The majority of what's left behind is recyclable, if purchases are made with reduced packaging in mind. The Bamberton utility will work with retailers and residents to create a community kitchen for easy processing of home-made preserves, a community cooler for long cold storage of foods bought in season from local growers, and systems for the reuse of food packaging bought in bulk.


The Bamberton planning team is always looking at new possibilities. Urban farming, permaculture, community farm-sharing with organic growers in the Cowichan Valley and sustainable eco-forest management of parts of Bamberton's forest land are all under discussion. If you have any suggestions, we would love to hear from you.


Every house at Bamberton will be built (as a minimum) to the R2000 standard, which reduces the energy needed for home-heating by 60%. This increases the price of building by 5%, but repays the extra investment within 6-8 years. Bamberton may also be is designated a Power Smart Community by BC Hydro. A community utility will operate a comprehensive demand management strategy, including the sale of solar systems and energy-efficient appliances. The utility will purchase power from BC Hydro for resale with energy-saving incentives, including variable pricing to encourage saving. South Island has been working with Ludo Bertsch of Horizon Technologies to develop a 'smart house' process for Bamberton, which reduces energy demand through 'peak-shaving', enabling non-essential appliances to reduce their power demand at peak demand periods. The potentials for heat recovery systems such as ground-source solar energy and cogeneration (district heating) are being explored. Wind and small-scale hydro are not effective under local conditions. Overall demand should be 65% - 75% less than the average BC home, if all programs are effective.

Further Reading :

'Water Efficiency' (Rocky Mountain Institute, USA, 1991)

Town of Bamberton : Solid Waste Management Plan, by Randy Hooper. (SIDC, 1994)

'Water Efficiency for an Environmentally Responsible Development' by Randy Hooper (SIDC 1994)