Earth

Every mountain, every valley, every creek on this Earth is home to creatures, organisms and spirits that have roamed the Earth a good deal longer than we have.

And yet it is we who have been gifted with the power to preserve, destroy, or restore. We are the ones who must choose. What will we create, as our legacy to the future?

 

THE LAND STEWARDSHIP CHEST

by Guy Dauncey

DRAFT - THIS IS AN INCOMPLETE DOCUMENT

Introduction

The land is everything. It comes to us from an unspeakably ancient past, with its myriad inhabitants, its lakes, forests and topsoil; it goes on into an eternal future. During our short lives, it is ours to protect, to nourish, and to be nourished by.

If we succeed in our task of good stewardship, the land will go on to nourish ten thousand future generations of humans, as well as its other, more ancient inhabitants. Several thousand years from now a human teenager will sit by that creek that you love and feel his heart open to the wonders of life, while the cedars, the kingfishers and the salmon continue their eternal journey through the present.

In order to succeed, we need knowledge. In many places across the Earth, past generations have failed in their task, leaving barren lands where once their ancestors enjoyed far more. We have a long tradition of neglect, failure and then forgetfulness, when we even lose the memory of what was once there.

The knowledge of good stewardship should be passed on to each one of us, like a dowry or an inheritance. It is our story, and we need it. Without it, history is there to remind us that we are most likely to screw up. All it takes is a little carelessness - building a concrete edge along a lakeside shore, not understanding how this deprives the lake's inhabitants of their home; building a home on a site where the herons have always nested; spilling our wastes into the creeks and marine waters, not grasping that this poisons the shellfish.

In our souls, we may love the forests, the herons and the shellfish; but in our actions, often out of ignorance, we destroy them. That is why we need to become good stewards of the land, so that our actions can mirror the love that exists in our souls.

It is good to have experts - biologists, ecologists and planners who make it their business to exercise good stewardship. But without the knowledge and support of the rest of us, they cannot do their work. It needs the understanding and the work of all of us to give the land the protection and stewardship that it needs.

The Land Stewardship Chest has been created to help us learn. Picture it as a traditional, old fashioned chest, with twenty drawers - four across, five down, the kind that your great grandparents might have owned. Think of it as an ecological dowry we can each inherit when we are born. Within its drawers are the essential tools that you need to be a loyal steward of the land, able to guarantee it a sustainable future.

Each of the drawers of the Chest contains a bundle of knowledge that is needed to protect the land where you live against pollution, damage and insensitive development (not all development - just insensitive development); and to nurture its mysteries. This particular version of the chest has been created for British Columbia, Canada, but it can be adapted for use in other provinces or states without too much homework. Some of its drawers may contain contents which do not exist yet in the region where you live. That is to be expected, since some of its contents do not exist until we create them.

The drawers may take a little time to sort through, but once you get to know them and start to use their knowledge, adding local contents of your own to each drawer, you will be amazed at what is possible. Many people live as if in a mist, where they cannot see clearly what is happening. A grove of trees is suddenly cut down. Was there some vital piece of knowledge that you didn't know ? Some meeting you were not aware of ? Why were you left in the dark, to bleed for the trees ? If this rings a bell, it is because you live in the mist.

Then given this experience, which is common to so many of us, what do you do with your feelings ? Do you squash them away, becoming in the process that little bit more angry or cynical ? Do you withdraw a bit more from the political process ? These are understandable reactions when someone feels disempowered, who lacks the knowledge of how to make a difference.

Using the contents of the chest, you can get to work - you and everyone who has access to the chest. Your friends, your neighbours, your local planners and elected councillors, your local land owners and developers - you can all become involved, taking on the task of becoming good stewards of the land.

This chest has been created out of love. It represents a dowry, a gift to you from a member of the older generation. May its words speak to you, and may its contents inspire your heart to action.

Guy Dauncey,

November 1988

1. A PASSION FOR NATURE

(Top Row, 1st Drawer)

In the heart - that is where it begins. In that creek where you love to wander, or that stretch of forest. That piece of shoreline where the migrating geese and seabirds come to gather.

Will they still be there in a hundred years, long after we have died ? Will our great grandchildren be able to enjoy them, and turn to them when they need some solitude, as we do today, to think whatever thoughts they have in that far distant time ?

"Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children... let us turn to them and say 'This you inherit; guard it well, for it is far more precious than money, and once destroyed, nature's beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.' "

Ansel Adams

The drawers in this chest are full of maps, plans, case studies and the means you need to preserve what is beautiful, for nature and for the future. Open the drawers, and learn them well. But when you get weary of the public hearings and community meetings, come back to this drawer, and let it remind you of nature, and the places you love.

And remind yourself : "This is why we're doing it. This is what it's all about."

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) : Favourite poems, photos, maps, memoirs, guides to hiking trails, list of local natural history and hiking groups.

 

2. PERSONAL STEWARDSHIP

(1st Row, 2nd Drawer)

Your own land

Here in British Columbia, only 6% of the land is privately owned, but that 6% includes some of the province's most biologically valuable areas, where the fate of the land depends on the knowledge and skill of the private landowner. As often as not, that might be you.

The first step is to get to know your land. Who else lives there ? What is its history ? Invite a local naturalist to tour your land with you, to introduce you to the different plants and birds, and other possible inhabitants. Then start to think about how you can enrich the local habitat, whether by digging a pond, planting trees, enriching the soil or re-introducing native wildflowers.

If you have a forest, invite an ecoforester or woodlot holder to tell you about the health and the age of the trees, and their likely history, and to offer some guidelines about restoring a healthy forest. In time, a second growth forest can regain its oldgrowth characteristics.

If you are lucky enough to own or rent lakefront or waterfront property, call your local natural history society and invite an aquatic biologist to tea; then ask him or her to give you an aquatic habitat tour of your waterfront, to introduce you to the different creatures who live there. It's good to learn how your septic field works, too, if you have one, in case you are unwittingly dumping effluent into the water. Like spilled oil and leaching fertilizers, these things are alien to nature, and slowly undermine the health of the water.

And if you live on a small lot in the city, as many do, get in touch with Naturescape BC, the backyard nature project. They'll open your eyes to the many different ways in which you can enrich and protect the habitat for birds, butterflies, and the host of insects and tiny creatures for whom your garden is their home.

If there are special areas on your property which merit long-term protection, consider placing a permanent conservation covenant on them. This is the best way to ensure that a creek, a wetland or piece of forest will be protected beyond your stewardship of the land. When you sell, or die, the covenant will ensure that the protection continues.

To be effective, a covenant must be held by at least two other parties, one of which might be a municipal council or regional district, the other a non-profit conservation organization. A new council might vote to overturn a covenant at the request of a future owner, twenty years down the road, but if the covenant is also held by a group whose fundamental purpose involves land stewardship, there will be less risk of the covenant being overturned without sound ecological reason. Your covenant should include its ecological rationale, so that if there is ever a legal challenge, this rationale will have to be addressed.

Your neighbours' land

The best way to persuade your neighbouring landowners to practise good stewardship is to set up a land stewardship project. A typical stewardship project might start with a small group of hand-picked, trained volunteers, who go out and make initial contact with the chosen landowners. They develop a relationship, and offer them educational materials, practical assistance and public recognition in the form of plaques and gatepost signs if they decide to join the project. In the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, when the Cowichan/ Chemainus Stewardship Pilot Project contacted 65 landowners to promote wetlands conservation in the region, more than two-thirds subsequently agreed to become conservation stewards. The most motivated might agree to adopt ecological management practices, and to place conservation covenants on sensitive areas. A typical land stewardship project might be sponsored by a partnership between the local government and a non-profit conservation organization, such as the Nature Trust of BC.

Covenant enforcement

Then what about enforcement ? Who will be there to check to see if a covenant is upheld ? It is unlikely that local government will ever have the resources to monitor every covenant, to watch for abuse. The only group that can hope to keep a successful eye on covenants is a local conservation or community stewardship group (see below) whose members know the local territory, and make it their business to keep an eye on things - which takes us into the next drawer.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Sample covenants.

Brochures from Naturescape BC (1-800-387-9853)

Information from 'Living by Water' (Salmon Arm)

Information about local natural history societies.

 

3. COMMUNITY STEWARDSHIP

(Top Row, 3rd Drawer)

Above all else, it is our local knowledge of the land, its history, and its creeks, forests, fields and wetlands that is needed to understand, protect and steward it.

Community Stewardship implies local knowledge on a level at which people know their neighbours on a face-to-face basis - maybe as few as 20 to 100 homes. A larger residents association might organize local community stewardship groups within its territory, but most rural residents associations cover too large an area to allow for the degree of local knowledge that is needed. One day, every resident will possess a map or an aerial photo detailing every stream, every wood and every sensitive habitat area in the area where they live (see Drawer 5), enabling them to understand what's there, and to be knowledgeable enough to protect it.

With television and the mass media stealing away our time and our imagination, it is easy to become wrapped up in the unreal world of film stars and distant world events, becoming distanced from our own localities and neighbours. Community Stewardship offers us a way back to sanity, regaining our connection with the flow of the creek, the nesting of the wrens and the seasons of the land.

No-one can protect a piece of land as well as someone who lives near it, year-round. No-one else can keep an eye open for neighbours who thoughtlessly build a concrete edge onto a pond or lake, or plan to build too close to an eagle's nest. No-one else can make sure that ecologically valuable areas in their own home patch are protected through ecological bylaws (see Drawer 6) or Local Area Plans (see Drawer 7).

It is through local community stewardship that we can best protect the land. There are very few such groups yet, operating on such a local level, but one day, there will be. Think of it as an Ecological Watch program, like Neighbourhood Watch, and ponder being the first in your region to start one. All that you need is a map, and a few willing neighbours. Meet for coffee, give yourselves a name, and off you go ! It's as easy as that.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Aerial photograph of your home patch. Available from Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks, Geographic Data BC, Customer Support, PO Box 9355, Stn Prov Govt., Victoria BC V8W 9M2, for around $24. Tel (250) 356-5263, Fax (250) 387-3022.

'Returning the Loon to Prospect Lake : A Guide to Restoring, Protecting and Enhancing the Prospect Lake / Tod Creek Watershed' (250) 479-1956

'Welcome to the Wetlands', a brochure from the EPA, Region 9, 75 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 744-1020

 

4. WATERSHED STEWARDSHIP

(1st Row, 4th Drawer)

Beyond the home patch, ecologically speaking, lies the watershed. All water flows downhill, and all land is part of a watershed which integrates its functions, and its being.

Watershed stewardship takes the same concern for stewardship and love for nature, and applies it to the whole watershed, building a partnership of stakeholders who understand that it is in their own personal interest to protect and restore their local watershed.

The practice of watershed stewardship often starts with mapping the flow of water across the land, from the mountain springs to the estuary or river mouth where it joins the sea. Where many small watersheds combine to create one really big watershed, such as the Fraser River system, the ultimate partnership needs to be a very powerful body indeed. In most cases, a smaller partnership is sufficient to assume stewardship over the local watershed.

Watershed stewardship is usually a game of partnership, not of a single non-profit group. There are so many different landowners and players within most watersheds that it takes everyone working together to achieve good results. It might mean anything from encouraging local farmers to fix their fences to stop their cows from trampling in a stream and muddying up the salmon spawning waters, to educating householders not to pour oils and paint thinners down the storm drains which empty into the river and the sea. It might mean campaigning for an end to clearcut forestry or the felling of trees within 15 metres of a creek, or getting a school class to replant willows and shrubs along a creek bank to stabilize the earth. It might mean working with a council or developer to ensure that the riparian areas (the lands alongside a creek or river) are properly protected, if development goes ahead.

During the 1990s, watershed stewardship groups began to spring up all over the place as people started to care about their local environment. The ultimate goal is that every river and every creek in every watershed should be named, loved and protected, their long-term security assured.

Forming a Watershed Stewardship group can be complex, if you seek to involve every stakeholder right from the start. An easier way to start is to find some other people who share your interest, and to start with small, manageable steps. Mapping the watershed is a good first step, and then hiking it, so that you get to know it. There are plenty of good watershed protection resources on the Internet, and in publications that watershed partnerships have put together.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Local watershed information.

Comox Valley Watershed Directory, Project Watershed, #3 - 2401 Cliffe Ave, Box 363, Courtenay, BC V9N 2L5 watershed@mars.ark.com (250) 334-1621

5. "1000 FRIENDS OF YOUR REGION"

(2nd Row, 1st Drawer)

It is a characteristic of our society today that the balance of power lies with those who know what they want, and who go after it in an organized way. Developers and builders are organized; councils and planners are organized; non-profit groups are organized.

When it comes to defending the land, with its heritage of forest and farmscape, rivers and creeks, habitats and wetlands, we need to be organized - and the best way to do that is as a non-profit group with a clear mission statement. This is more than an area residents association, and more than a watershed stewardship group; this is a group whose members address the long term stewardship of an entire region, who work to educate people about land stewardship, and defend progressive long-term planning and growth management policies.

This is what the '1000 Friends of Oregon' did when it was established as a nonprofit charitable foundation in 1975, to serve as the citizens' voice for land use planning that would protect Oregon's quality of life from the negative effects of growth. These are their goals :

• To conserve Oregon's productive farm, forest and range lands

• To promote compact, livable cities with affordable housing, greenspaces and transportation alternatives

• To protect natural resources and scenic areas

• To defend the opportunities for citizens to participate in planning decisions that affect Oregonians and their communities.

For over 20 years, 1000 Friends of Oregon's 5000 members have successfully defended Oregon's progressive land-management legislation, and upheld their goals through a mixture of advocacy, educational and research activities.

If you want to work together as a region to become good stewards of the land, and to defend the goals of heritage, environment, greenspace, sustainability, natural habitat and human livability, you need to organize. Every region needs its own '1000 Friends of Your Region' group, funded by a mixture of membership fees, donations, legacies, grants and government support. There is no limit to what can be achieved once you are well organized in pursuit of a vision that has public support. Without organization, alas, those who are better organized usually win the day.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Information from 1,000 Friends of Oregon, 534 Southwest Ave, Suite 300, Portland OR 97204 (503) 497-1000. www.friends.org

6. CREATING AN ATLAS OF

ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREAS

(2nd Row, 2nd Drawer)

Let's say you have formed a Community Stewardship group, a Watershed Stewardship Council, perhaps even a "1000 Friends" group. One of the biggest hurdles you will now face, as you begin your work of stewardship, is most people's fundamental ignorance about the ecology of the area they live in, made worse by their ignorance of community planning processes.

One of the best ways to educate people about their ecological heritage is with an Atlas of Ecologically Sensitive Areas. This takes a lot of work to create, but once it exists, it exists for everyone. An atlas can be created by community effort, gradually mapping in the region through on-the-ground effort; it can be created through aerial photos shot at a 1: 2000 scale, small enough to enable you to see almost every house; or (best of all), it can be a combination of both. The aerial photos are studied and interpreted by local biologists and naturalists who map in every creek, stream and river, noting all the fish habitat, who mark in every riparian area that needs protection, and who map in every wetland, oldgrowth forest and other areas of special value.

If you are a resident of the Comox Valley area of Vancouver Island, of Salmon Arm or the Regional District of Nanaimo, you may already have seen one of these, and understand how valuable they are as a land stewardship tool. Now imagine a future where every resident has a copy of 'their' page from the atlas framed on their wall, and uses the photos to become familiar with the local ecology, and to track what needs protecting locally.

The maps are expensive to produce, but once created, it's hard to imagine how we ever coped without them. We need to create a whole new tradition of community mapping, to illustrate not just the details of local ecology, but also the history of an area, revealing its settler past, its native past, its geological past. When it comes to land stewardship, and protecting nature's heritage for the future, maps like this are worth their weight in salmon spawn.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Copy of a page from the Comox Valley atlas

Maps of your region which indicate areas of ecological value.

 

7. PROTECTING GREENSPACE

(2nd Row, 3rd Drawer)

Now we come to the crunch. It's so often like this, that life has been ambling peacefully along with its minor everyday dramas, and suddenly you discover that your favorite area of forest or wetland is about to be clearcut and turned into a shopping mall or a subdivision. "They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot" (Joni Mitchell). How can it be saved ?

With advance ecological planning, through the careful efforts of ecological mapping and the knowledge of local hikers, birdwatchers and naturalists, the question can arise in a less intimidating manner. Either way, we face the question - "How can we protect this piece of land ?"

There are seven ways in which a piece of land can be permanently protected, so it is worth understanding what they are :

A. Public Purchase

Land can be purchased by each level of government - federal, provincial, regional and municipal. At the federal level, the government can kick in if the land fits with the government's priorities. In B.C., the main areas where the federal government seems to be active at present (1998) concern salmon habitat protection and marine parks. They helped with the purchase of Ayum Creek (Sooke) because of its fish habitat and its critical position at the ocean doorway to the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt; and they are helping with the purchase of land for parks in and around the Gulf Islands. All this takes major lobbying, and doing good politics.

The provincial government can also contribute to a land-purchase where both ecological and political arguments are strong. The Gowlland-Tod Park on the east shore of Saanich Inlet on Vancouver Island is a good example, purchased through a partnership with provincial government involvement in 1993, after several years of persistent campaigning by a visionary stewardship group.

Finally, regional and municipal governments can also contribute. They can use money from existing park allocation funds; they can impose development cost charges on new developments (see Drawer 10) to pay for greenspace protection, and they can raise money for greenspace protection through public referendum. None of this ever happens, needless to say, without extensive public effort and campaigning.

B. Land Trades

If the federal government (and the provincial government, to a lesser extent) is involved, it has the ability to use its holdings of crown land to swap a piece of privately owned land that needs protection for an equivalent piece of crown land somewhere else.

C. Purchase through Public Donations

All over B.C., local groups achieve miracles in public fundraising, pulling together the partnerships to purchase critical pieces of land. The Friends of Jedediah, the Pender Islands Conservancy Association, the Galiano Conservancy Association, the Habitat Acquisition Trust, The Land Conservancy of BC, the Quadra Land Conservancy, the MacDonald Wood Park Society (Comox), the Denman Conservancy, the Society for the Protection of Ayum Creek (Sooke) - these are just a tiny selection of the myriad groups which engage in land stewardship through purchase in B.C..

One mechanism is by establishing a Land Trust, to receive the land. When it comes to the legal and the technical aspects of all this, the Victoria-based Habitat Acquisition Trust has set up a permanent office in Victoria to give advice and assistance to groups wanting to protect valuable habitat. The Turtle Island Land Trust offers a similar service from its base in Salmon Arm.

D. Dedication of Land during Development.

Another way of saving smaller sections of ecologically valuable land that are threatened with development lies with the local council or regional district. They have the power to negotiate with a developer, and to make the final approval of a project subject to the protection of certain areas through dedication. Once a developer or landowner agrees to set an area aside, they must then decide on the best way to manage and protect it, as a public park, as an ecological reserve, or by means of a conservation covenant.

E. Conservation Covenants

A conservation covenant is a legal agreement signed by two or more parties which imposes limits on the types of activity which can happen on a site. Covenants can be used to impose setbacks, to require the retention of native vegetation, to protect trees, to require the fencing of an area for prohibit public access, and so on. As mentioned above (Drawer 2), it is best if one of the parties to the covenant is a non-profit nature protection society, so that there is minimum chance of the covenant being overturned at the request of the owner on some future occasion.

Enforcement can be a problem if the covenanted area is on private land, which nobody but the landowner sees. Local government will never have the resources to monitor local covenants : the best covenant-keeper is a local community stewardship group (Drawer 3), which can make it their business to care for the ecological wellbeing of locally significant habitat.

F. Negotiated Settlements

This one is longer and more complex - so bear with me ! When a landowner wants to develop a piece of land which will involve the destruction or degrading of an ecologically or socially valuable area, one of the commonest ways to protect that area is to put sufficient political pressure on the owner (or the developer) so that he or she agrees to come to the table and negotiate a new development plan. How well this goes depends on which of the three types of land-owner or developer you are dealing with.

Type A : The Do-Gooders

Type A landowners and developers (The Do-Gooders) will usually agree quite readily to adjust their plans. They are the ones who are already pre-disposed to do the right thing, and who just need some encouragement, or having their eyes opened to the social or ecological reasons why a particular piece of land should be protected. The key to success with a Type A is personal contact, politeness, persistence, helpfulness, and ongoing contact. Don't disappear on a Do-Gooder !

Type B : The Good Dealers

The Type B landowners and developers (The Good Dealers) look out for their own interests, and usually respond well to a reasonable incentive, such as being allowed to develop an increased density on the remaining area of land (density bonusing - see Drawer 10), being given a reduced development cost charge (also in Drawer 10), or receiving a tax receipt for an area of land that is placed under covenant or donated as a public park. The secret of success here is to make sure that the relevant local government planning officer is persuaded of the value of the land, and motivated to work for a good settlement. So find out who it is, establish a relationship, and get to work. If the planning officer is a sleep, early retirement type, you will need to go over his or her head to the Chief of Planning, and the local councillors or regional district directors, to win their support for a negotiated deal.

Type C : The "Over My Dead Body" Type

Then there is the Type C owner or developer ("Over My Dead Body"). These are the ones who resent any interference with what they perceive to be their private property rights, who believe that they should be allowed to develop whatever they want on their land, and who may respond to the threat of ecological protection by going in with a bulldozer and destroying the habitat in question. It's amazing what you can get away with on private land in B.C.. The Type C owner/developer may also resort to bullying, bribery and personal intimidation, and may do whatever it takes to get the local politicians in his or her pocket.

Once you realize that you are dealing with a Type C owner/developer, the only way to win is to confront power with power, by building a strong partnership of people and groups who support your view, and using their strength to lobby for protection by means of petitions, letters, phone calls, emails, faxes, rallies, letters to the editor and whatever other kinds of persuasive method you can think of.

# Useful Tip No 1 : If you have five members who are committed, set up an arrangement to take it in turns to phone the object of your lobbying - Mark on Mondays, Tina on Tuesdays, Wendy on Wednesdays, Tom on Thursdays, and so on. The sense that you are part of a team will help you to keep to your commitments.

(i) If the decision to approve the development plans requires a rezoning decision, you will have to persuade the local councillors or regional directors that they should refuse any rezoning which fails to protect the ecologically sensitive areas. This is a matter of persuasive and well-informed lobbying.

# Useful Tip No 2 : When lobbying politicians for something that you believe to be in the public interest, remember the 4 Ps : POLITENESS, PERSISTENCE, PERSUASIVE and PARTNERSHIPS. Your opposition may resort to lies, slanders, distortions, exaggerations and half-truths, but you should not. Do your homework; martial your arguments; inform your supporters; get as many people out to the relevant meetings; and when you speak, be brief and to the point. Politicians despair of people who rant and ramble.

# Useful Tip No 3 : Just like the landowners and developers, there are three types of politician : (A) The Ego-Boosters, who love to have their name in the papers, and to receive lots of praise and attention; (B) The Axe-Grinders, who got elected to pursue a single issue, such as defending property rights or cracking down on crime; and (C) The Do-Gooders, who genuinely want to serve the community and build a better world. Invest your energy with the Do-Gooders. Ignore the other two categories, at least until you know that you need their vote.

(ii) If the development plans do not involve a change to the existing zoning, the necessary approval requires only the signature of the approving officer, in accordance with a piece of legislation that's called the Subdivision and Servicing Standard Bylaw.

If the land is in an area which has been incorporated as a municipality (a village, town or city), the approving officer will probably be the chief planning officer or the municipal engineer. If it seems that the ecological interests are being ignored, your lobbying will need to go over his or her head to the politicians, who have the power to instruct the approving officer to pay more heed to ecological considerations. This is particularly so if the Official Community Plan (OCP - see Drawer 9) for the region contains environmental policies, which the approving officer must then heed. All these things are so connected !

If the land is unincorporated (ie it's a rural area), the authority for subdivision approval lies with the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Highways. He or she is designated as the approving officer through the Land Title Act (section 77). This is not an elected position, and neither is it a good arrangement, since the Ministry of Transport has a minimal tradition of ecological protection, and is generally dominated by engineers who are more sensitive to concrete stress standards than they are to wildflower stress protection. If the approving officer seems similarly insensitive, your best bets are to lobby your local MLA, to lobby the Minister of Transport, requesting that approval be denied until the necessary ecological protection measures have been put in place, and to go to the Regional District Board of Directors, to persuade them to get involved by writing a firm letter to the approving officer, with copies to various politicians. Once again, if the Regional District's Official Community Plan contains environmental policies, it will be easier to persuade the approving officer that the relevant ecological protection is in the public interest.

The legislation which gives them the authority is the Land Title Act (see Drawer 8), which is very weak when it comes to ecological protection. The Act gives the approving officer the authority to consider matters of public interest, but it is up to the officer to decide what the 'public interest' involves - this is why it is so important to have clauses relating to environmental stewardship in your Official Community Plan (see Drawer 9), to strengthen the case for this being considered a 'public interest'.

G. Expropriation.

The public expropriation of land is used by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways when they want to build a highway (with compensation), but is very rarely used by municipalities or other arms of government for the purposes of protecting nature. The most notable exception concerns greenways (see Drawer 12).

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Brochures for Habitat Acquisition Trust, The Land Conservancy, Turtle Island Earth Stewards.

'Environmental Stewardship : A synopsis of Local Governments' Powers' (Fraser River Action Plan, Habitat & Enhancement Branch, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, #400, 555 West Hastings St, Vancouver V6B 5G3

Written examples of covenants.

Booklets on good lobbying and campaign techniques

List of local politicians with their home and their work phone numbers.

List of key municipal and regional planning and engineering staff.

List of approval staff at the Ministry of Transportation & Highways.

List of local MLAs, with contact details.

List of Cabinet Ministers, with contact details.

 

8. STEWARDSHIP BYLAWS

(2nd Row, 4th Drawer)

Thought we were through with the legal stuff ? No such luck. This stuff might seem tedious, but these bylaws can mean the difference between saving or losing a wetland or an area of oldgrowth forest. So listen up !

There are several types of bylaw that a municipality or regional district in B.C. can use to practice good land stewardship. Most municipalities and regional districts have some of these bylaws on their books, but many are weak when it comes to protecting nature, and in need of revision. The booklet 'Stewardship Bylaws : A Guide for Local Government', part of the Stewardship series published by a provincial/federal partnership, has all the details that you need to revise a bylaw, or to create a new one.

(a) Official Community Plan and Rural Land Use bylaws (see Drawer 9). These are the big ones, which are really important - so they get a whole drawer to themselves.

(b) Zoning, Density Bonus and Development Permit bylaws (see Drawer 10). These are critical when it comes to any kind of development - so they get a drawer to themselves, too.

(c) Tree Protection bylaws and cutting permits. In urban areas, tree protection bylaws can be used to limit all cutting of trees, or to limit just certain kinds of cutting. In rural areas, they are best used to protect trees in sensitive areas such as riparian zones (along river banks), or to protect all trees within designated environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs), in order to preserve habitat. The bylaws may also identify trees which are significant for heritage, landmark or wildlife values.

(c) Soil Removal and Deposition bylaws, which can be used to stop builders from stripping the topsoil and selling it off, leaving a barren lot that's only good for thistles. They also allow a municipality or regional district to minimize dangers from sedimentation, flooding or erosion, both anywhere, and within environmentally sensitive areas.

(d) Water Conservation bylaws, which give a municipality or regional district the means to set standards for stormwater management design, erosion control and water quality, and the ability to require a permit for all works on watercourses and wetlands.

(e) Landscape and Screening bylaws, which can be used to set the standards you want for landscaping restoration near ESAs, to promote ecological restoration.

(f) Animal control bylaws - which can be used to keep dogs out of a nesting area, for instance.

(g) Integrated Environmental Protection bylaws - this is a smart way to create a single package out of all these different bylaws, to make them easier for the public to comprehend. The District of North Vancouver pioneered this approach, and showed how valuable it could be.

(h) Subdivision and Servicing Standards bylaws. These are the standards which must be followed when a landowner or developer applies to develop a piece of property, referred to above, in Drawer 8. The key thing to remember is that in a municipality, the bylaw is managed and interpreted by the municipality's approving officer, while in a rural, unincorporated area, it is interpreted by the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, in whose hands, they are used to impose whopping wide roads in the middle of quiet rural areas.

In both cases, the approving officer is required to heed the public interest, and the place to define this is your Official Community Plan - which is why it is important to make sure you have clauses about environmental protection written into the Plan. The bylaws can also be used to protect vegetation, to require replanting, to prevent erosion and to control stormwater flow.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

'Stewardship Bylaws : A Guide for Local Government'

Copies of local municipal and regional district bylaws, with critical clauses highlighted.

 

9. COMMUNITY PLANS

(3rd Row, 1st Drawer)

There are four types of community plan in B.C. : Official Community Plans, Electoral Area Plans, Local Area Plans and Regional Growth Management Plans. Make no mistake - these plans are very important. They are not as definitive as the actual zoning bylaws (see Drawer 10), but they set the stage for the entire context within which planning, development and rezonings take place.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) is your primary land-use planning tool, which sets up the overall framework of goals, policies and uses for your area. In a rural, non-incorporated area, the equivalent document may be called a 'Rural Land Use Bylaw'. That may sound very dull, but it is still a vitally important piece of legislation. The primary purpose of an OCP is to provide a guide for future land use and community development decisions.

Some OCPs are good - and some are weak. Some are well written - some are written in 'plannerese'. Although it is supposed to be a plan, describing the democratically agreed intentions of residents regarding their region for the next 20 years, in reality, most OCPs are simply wish-lists, with no actual plans to implement the contents of the list. One day, the OCPs and other plans may be written in such as way that local residents treasure them as visionary documents, from which they can draw understanding and inspiration.

An OCP describes a mixture of what is and what could be. A good OCP will set down the goals and policy intentions for such things as greenways, open space, riparian protection, habitat protection, urban containment boundaries (see Drawer 11) and parkland dedication. When it comes to a dispute over a rural subdivision approval, the right phrase in the OCP might make the difference between a creek or a greenway right-of-way being protected, or not.

Your local OCP will include the guidelines for the issuing of Development Permits (see Drawer 10) that can be required for development in ecologically sensitive and other areas. It can lay down the principles along which Urban Containment Boundaries should be established, and it can lay down design guidelines for clustered developments (see Drawer 11). It can also describe your area's goals, objectives and policies for the development of the local economy, and for affordable housing. Although it has not yet been done, an OCP could also lay down goals and policies for renewable energy projects such as solar orientation, windmills or tidal turbines.

For the most part, your OCP will describe policies which are within the jurisdiction of your local regional district. Where it refers to policies and goals which are beyond the regional district's jurisdiction, they are defined as 'broad objectives' (Municipal Act Section 878(2)), and called 'advocacy policies'.

In theory, an OCP is supposed to be reviewed and revised every five years. In practice, they sometimes go as long as 20 years without proper review. By contrast with how it's usually done, the process of OCP review should be seen as the single most important opportunity whereby local people can lay down the long-term goals and policies that will govern the future of their region.

Until 1997, it was not possible to include clauses concerned with environmental stewardship in an OCP in British Columbia - doesn't that tell you something ? Thanks to some citizen activism, this is now possible (see Drawer 19). This gives you a good excuse to call your local planning department to ask what their plans are to develop new clauses on ecological stewardship and protection, or to make a formal proposal to your local council or regional board to start such a process.

So call your local planning department, get yourself a copy of your OCP, and sit down to read it. While you're reading it, ask yourself how it could be made more accessible, and easy to understand. How about a sentence in italics under each clause, for instance, explaining why that clause is there - "de-constructing" it, as it were ?

The next layers down from the OCP are the Electoral Area Plan (if you live in a rural area) and the Local Area Plan. These are similar to the OCP in structure and design, and legally, they are part of the OCP - they fall under the same section of the Municipal Act. The Local Area Plan is the level at which a local community association can do an actual walk-about with the planners and local councillors, discussing every street, creek, park and corner in a hands-on manner.

Beneath these various plans lie the actual zoning bylaws (see Drawer 10), which define the land-use as residential, commercial, industrial, or one of a hundred variations on these themes. The zoning bylaws are the real bottom line. When the plans differ from the zoning bylaws, it is the zoning bylaws which have precedence, not the various plans. Whenever a zoning bylaw is changed, or when a new one is introduced, there must be four readings of the new zoning bylaw by the local council or regional board, with a Public Hearing before the 3rd reading (see Drawer 17). This means that in order to interpret your OCPs, EAPs or LAPs, you also need the zoning map, to see how the land is actually defined today - as opposed to how the various community plans might like it to be defined in the future. This is a critical distinction, which needs to be understood.

By the logic of its scale, the Regional Plan or Regional Growth Management Plan should come first, before the OCP. In B.C., however, regional planning was abolished in 1983, leaving a vacuum for a period of 12 years in which there was no regional planning at all.

Following the passage of the Growth Strategies Statutes Amendment Act in 1995, however, regional districts and municipalities are permitted to develop regional plans, through a co-operative, consensual process. The process leaves a lot to be desired, but the goals of the legislation are solid, and where local municipal councillors and regional directors are willing, it can be used to create a very progressive long-term regional land-use plan.

The official purpose of a regional growth strategy is "to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy and that makes efficient use of public facilities and services, land and other resources". (Municipal Act, 942.11). Among other things, a growth strategy can work towards :

• Avoiding urban sprawl;

• Settlement patterns that minimize the use of automobiles and encourage walking, bicycling and the efficient use of public transit;

• Protecting environmentally sensitive areas;

• Preserving, creating and linking urban and rural open space including parks and recreation areas;

• Planning for energy supply and promoting efficient use, conservation and alternative forms of energy;

• Good stewardship of land, sites and structures with cultural heritage value.

Elsewhere in North America, regional planning is being used to control sprawl, and protect forests and farmland. In Hawaii, a statewide zoning system preserves agricultural land and scenic resources. In Maryland, under the incentive-based Smart Growth program, the state won't subsidize highways, water lines, sewers, or school construction outside designated areas. Here in B.C., the true potential of growth management planning to change the way we live and impact the land is yet to be seen. The Regional District of Nanaimo has set a good precedent, with its Growth management Plan of 1997. Until we change the legislation, to make it stronger, it's the best we have to work with.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Copy of local OCP, EAP and LAP

Copy of the Regional Growth Management Plan - or documents from the Regional District relating to its development.

 

10. PLANNING TOOLS

(3rd Row, 3rd Drawer)

Welcome to the world of zoning bylaws, development permit areas, density bonus agreements, amenity bonusing, density transfers, comprehensive development zones, development variance permits, development cost charges, environmentally sensitive designations, and so on.

We're getting deep into planning territory here, so don't forget your self-esteem booster - the inner reminder you give yourself whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed. "Don't worry," your booster should tell you. Take it slowly, one piece at a time. And if in doubt, ask. If a planner or councillor is worth his or her salary (which you are paying, as a local taxpayer), they will pause to explain it to you.

It is only by giving up that so many people have found themselves outside the planning loop, feeling disempowered and as often as not, a little disgruntled. If you persist, you'll soon learn what all the various terms mean. So lets' start at the top :

(a) Zoning Bylaws.

These provide the legal definitions of local land-use. Every piece of land is zoned for something or other - residential single family, residential duplex, mobile home park, tourist commercial, highway commercial, industrial, rural, or whatever. There's a lot of sense in this - not many people want their children playing next to a noisy factory, or living next to a pub. The fashionable idea from the 1950s was to achieve a proper separation of the zones. Today, there is a move back to slightly closer integration, to encourage mixed-use village and neighbourhood centres, and to get away from those vast sterile suburbs.

When it comes to land stewardship, the zoning of the land and its terms are crucial aspects of its protection. On privately owned land, the lower the permitted density, the less the likely impact. In addition to defining the permitted density and the land-use of a particular parcel or area, a zoning bylaw can include stewardship clauses designed to protect watercourses, watercourse leave areas (is the areas around a watercourse), or sensitive terrestrial ecosystem leave areas within an area - so that even if a landowner has the zoning to build two houses, he or she will not be permitted to build them where they would threaten the ecological integrity of a watercourse or sensitive area.

And remember, every time a zoning by-law is changed, there must be a Public Hearing. The system is far from perfect, and when we get to Drawer No 17, we'll talk about ways in which Public Hearings can be more effective.

(b) Development Permit Areas (DPAs)

This is a very useful planning tool, which allows your councillors or regional directors to lay down guidelines for the protection or development of certain areas.

Under the Municipal Act, a Development Permit Area can be designated for the following reasons :

(a) To protect the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity;

(b) To protect against soil erosion and hazardous conditions;

(c) To establish guidelines governing the form and character of heritage sites, and for commercial, industrial or multi-family residential development.

Note that there's nothing here about single family dwellings, which means that once a developer has received approval to build a subdivision, there's nothing that a local council or planning department can do to stop an invasion of pink stucco clones with double garages, if that's what a developer decides the public wants - unless you could persuade a judge to rule that pink stucco was a hazardous condition.

DPAs can be very useful - so it's worth finding out more about them. They can be used to protect watercourses, hazardous areas and ecologically sensitive areas by the use of setback requirements, restrictive covenants, shoreline protection, providing buffer strips along streams, preserving native plants, providing geotechnical reports, doing ongoing environmental monitoring, posting bonds, etc. Thanks to this legislation, also, the eagles, herons and other ecologically sensitive species can receive what is in effect their own special zoning, to ensure the protection of their nests.

If your municipality or regional district already has blanket environmental protection by-laws in place (see Drawer 8), the Development Permit guidelines can be used to vary the terms of the regulations in certain areas. If it does not have those blanket by-laws, the permits can be used to achieve the same effect within the Development Permit Areas.

The strength of a development permit depends on the wording of the development permit guidelines in the OCP. A development permit can be required in an area only if the OCP (or EAP or LAP) defines the area as environmentally sensitive. Also, legally, a development permit is a "may" clause, not a "must" clause. When it comes to the development of a piece of land where a developer sees exciting opportunities, there may be a lot at stake - enough to make him reach for his lawyer if he thinks it will protect his right to do what he wants with the land. If the definitions in the OCP are not tight enough, many councils will back down, following advice from their legal department that the developer might sue them. In Drawer 19, we learn how to strengthen this kind of legislation.

Note - Development Permits can be used in Regional District OCP areas, but not in Regional District Rural Land Use Bylaw Areas, where the lot sizes are 8 hectares or larger.

(c) Density Bonus Agreements

This is an intelligent arrangement which allows a council to twist a developer's arm, and say "You give us a children's play area, 20% affordable housing, a greenways right of way, 30% green space, a covenant protecting the lands by the creek and a network of pedestrian trails, and we'll allow you 30% increased density on the rest of the land."

Planners and councils use bonusing agreements all the time, but Jo and Josephine Public often don't understand how the system works, or how they could use density bonusing to argue for additional protection for a piece of woodland, or for the develop to provide an amenity such as a village hall.

(d) Density Transfers

If a developer has bought twenty acres, zoned as one-acre lots, he might want to develop it as such to avoid all the hassle of going through a land-use change, with a public hearing. This is exactly how rural sprawl gets created, with individual lots that are too large to garden and too small to farm, in a low density that encourages everyone to drive, and can never support a bus service (that needs 15 units to the acre).

The density transfer says "We'll let you transfer all the density on the 20 acres to just two of those acres, creating a neat little cluster of housing, on condition that the other 18 acres are left as forest, green space or farmland." In terms both of land stewardship and of sustainable community design, this makes absolute sense. Individual people may think that heaven is their own private acre of land, but when we all start doing it, the result is appalling.

Density Averaging is a similar tool to a density transfer, which allows you to move those 20 homes around on your 20 acres, without changing the overall density of the acreage.

In Suffolk County, New York, a system called 'transfer of development rights' allows owners of property in conservation areas to transfer their development rights to other locations, and sell them to landowners in non-conservation areas who want to increase the density on their lands - an interesting concept, which controls the spread of sprawl without alienating rural landowners.

(e) Comprehensive Development Zones

In the planners' world, everything's got to be a zone of some kind or other. A planner without zones is like a banker without money or a farmer without fields. But what if you want to design a pedestrian urban village or a rural ecovillage where people live above their businesses and the high school takes place in different buildings throughout the village ? Instead of zoning the land into separate areas, it often makes more sense to describe the area as a Comprehensive Development Zone, [MAY NEED MORE ?]

(f) Development Variance Permits

A Development Variance Permit is a chameleon, that enables a council or regional board to vary the terms of a zoning bylaw or setback requirement. It's both a sensible recognition that human nature and creativity can't be confined to narrow rules, and a potential foot in the door for weakening whatever land stewardship requirements may exist in the zoning.

(g) Development Cost Charges (DCCs)

Why should the general tax-payer pay for all the extra costs that a new development requires - roads, sewers, water, social services ? Why not bill them back to the developer and the new home-owners? That's what development cost charges allow, using a formula based on the size of a development.

In a socially and ecologically smart world, it makes sense to take the DCC concept further (10,000 miles further), using them to encourage social and environmental sustainability. This might or might not require a change to the Municipal Act (see Drawer 19), depending on which municipal lawyer you listen to.

The suggestion is to increase the basic DCC 20-fold, and then to reduce it according to an agreed menu of social and environmental improvements. Affordable housing ? 10% off. Traffic calming and designs for pedestrians ? 10% off. Greenways and protected greenspace beyond the normal 5% requirement ? 10% off, and so on until the DCC is down to zero, reducing the downstream municipal costs while providing a big incentive for socially and environmentally responsible development.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Copy of the local Zoning Map

Examples of local Development Cost Charge agreements

 

11. HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

(3rd Row, 3rd Drawer)

Clustered Greenspace Developments

One of the biggest threats to the ecological integrity of the land is the spread of suburban sprawl, pushing its identikit subdivisions through forest, field and stream like fungus on a rose-bush. Developers may say "This is what people want", but home-buyers are rarely given the choice (for instance) of living in a clustered greenspace development.

Say you have 20 acres you are planning to develop. In a clustered greenspace development, instead of covering it with 80 1/4 acre lots, you cluster the houses into pockets of higher density and preserve the rest of the land as public green space or protected habitat areas, linked by trails, with a small village centre.

The ideal density, from a public planning point of view, is 30 units to the hectare (or more), since this allows cost-effective public transit. The individual lots may be smaller, but the public amenities and greenspace are larger, increasing the property value to the homeowners. Which would you prefer - a house on a larger lot in a sea of suburban roads, with no trails, no parks, no greenspace - or a smaller lot next to a beautiful creek or forest ? The market evidence is beginning to back the clustered option, although some developers are slow to catch on. The principles of clustered greenspace development can be written into an OCP, to serve as a guideline for the council and planners when new developments are proposed. The best guide to a different way of building on the land is the book 'Green Development - Integrating Ecology and Real Estate' (Wiley & Sons).

Transport

What has transport got to do with land stewardship ? On a global level, the carbon emissions from our vehicles are contributing to global warming, which is responsible for a major increase in catastrophic flooding, drought and forest fires. In ecological terms, global warming is the greatest challenge that the natural world has faced since the onset of the last ice age, 25,000 years ago. Among other things, it is threatening entire species such as the salmon, which cannot survive the warmer river and ocean temperatures.

From a policy perspective, ignoring sustainable transport means reverting to the default assumption that everyone will drive everywhere (and need to park once they get there), sentencing acre upon acre of land to the ultimate death sentence - a permanent crop of asphalt.

We have several tools at our disposal to approach transportation more sustainably :

(a) Public Transit. When development approaches 30 units to the hectare, public transit starts to work, financially. Lower densities require bigger subsidies to finance the increased cost of stopping more frequently.

(b) Railways & LRT. Where a railway line can be restored or revitalized, or used for a LRT corridor, it makes sense to plan human settlements along its route.

(c) Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning. The easier it is for pedestrians and cyclists to get around, the more they will do so, and the less they will drive.

(d) Transport Demand Management (TDM). This is the phrase that planners use to describe a range of measures that make it easy for people to travel without cars, such as providing park & ride facilities, cycling, car-pooling, full-price parking and providing non-car travel incentives. Where a good TDM policy is in place, there are sound arguments for reducing the amount of land required for parking under the usual parking bylaws.

(e) Car Share Co-operatives. Clustered developments make it easier to start a local car share co-operative. In western Europe, 150,000 people belong to car share coops, instead of owning private vehicles. They drive less, and make up the difference by more walking, cycling and use of public transit. Here in B.C., car sharing has taken root in both Victoria and Vancouver. (vvv.com/~carshare/)

Sewage Treatment

The uncontrolled use of wells and septic systems can pollute and exhaust and the groundwater, posing a major threat to an area's natural and human inhabitants. This often brings the call for proper sewage treatment - but there is a common assumption among some developers and realtors that as soon as an area goes onto a main sewer, it is ripe for development. It is a poor reflection of past land-use planning that something as mundane as sewage treatment should drive development, instead of the larger goals of sustainability and greenspace protection.

Paradoxically, the arrival of new tertiary sewage treatment systems (Solar Aquatics, Hydroxyl, Murray-Hill membrane) allow an isolated area to adopt the very best in local sewage treatment, without being hooked into a municipal sewer. Since sewage treatment financing is always better when there are more houses, the faulty logic of allowing increased development around a sewage treatment system will still exist.

Water

The increased consumption of water can be limited by encouraging the use of water efficient toilets and fixtures in community plans. Similarly, the detrimental effects of allowing run-off to escape into storm drains (and dumped into the local river or lake) can be remedied by encouraging the use of natural swales, which recharge the land.

In rural areas, composting toilets and constructed wetlands for greywater can also be used to lessen water-use, while retaining the natural rate of groundwater recharge.

To keep track of overall water use in a region, an aquifer inventory and groundwater management plan should be made, and built up over time by the local planning and engineering departments.

EcoVillages

The ecovillage goes a few steps beyond the concept of a clustered greenspace community. It's a bit like baking a cake. You start off by designing the village as a cluster of pedestrian-oriented, solar-designed houses, so that the village can be car-free, with parking off to one side. Then you add in energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource conservation, community allotments, edible landscaping and ecosystem approaches to sewage and stormwater, to minimize the village's impact on the environment, while using design and affordable housing methods to maximize the community's social wealth. The land that has been protected by the more compact building can be used for green space, farming or forestry, and also used to build the village's economy, so that its residents can live and work locally. It is a very rich concept, whose time has come.

Urban Containment Boundaries

The concept is simple - you draw a line around an urban area,, and say "No further !". Inside the boundary, development can proceed to higher densities, but outside, it must maintain a low-density, rural character.

The process of establishing a boundary sends a crucial message to rural land-owners and others who have an eye on rural lands for development, saying "not here". A municipal council can look at its maps, launch a community process to decide the appropriate boundaries, and then literally draw a line on the ground, passing a bylaw to disallow any increase of density outside the line. Such a bylaw should be accompanied by an amendment to the OCP, to give it greater strength.

Most of western Europe takes urban containment boundaries in rural areas for granted. Those lovely Swiss, Austrian and English villages with their tightly packed houses surrounded by woodland or farms are simply the result of good planning, and containment boundaries. Without such a boundary, every rural lot becomes a potential subdivision, and rural landowners begin to assume that they are entitled to develop their land as a source of windfall income.

Whenever an urban containment boundary is proposed, there is need for a public interest group to defend the concept, because there will be many who oppose it, from builders and developers to land-owners. That's why the contents of Drawer 5 are so important (A 1000 Friends of Your Region), to provide a voice for the greater needs of the region as a whole.

In Oregon, growth-management legislation requires every municipality to develop a twenty-year urban growth boundary. In the San Francisco Bay Area, eight communities including San José have adopted urban growth boundaries promoted by a citizens' group called the Greenbelt Alliance. And in the Lexington, Kentucky area, urban growth boundaries protect the Bluegrass horse farms.

Development Report Cards

When a development is proposed and brought to council for comment, how are councillors or regional directors to judge the proposal ? They have no formal training in the field - and yet they have the power to approve or deny developments.

If a council has a social and an environmental planner, the first step is easy - send it for a Social and Environmental Review. The Municipality of Saanich does for most of its larger proposals, ensuring that the councillors receive a careful study of the implications before they decide what to do.

An second approach lies with the concept of a Community Report Card - a 100-point questionnaire being developed by the South Island Sustainable Communities Network, based in Victoria. This allows community groups, planners and developers to assess a project on ten major dimensions of sustainable design, giving each a score out of ten (See Appendix. The ten dimensions are location; density; urban design; ecology; town/village centre; local economy; getting around; affordable housing; livable communities; and sewage, water, energy, waste & building materials.)

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

 

12. GREENWAYS

(3rd Row, 4th Drawer)

The vision of a local and a regional network of greenways is very powerful : imagine being able to travel around by bicycle, horse or on foot on off-road trails, and get where you are going in peace and safety, passing along beautiful forested and open country trails.

There is a lot of support for the general concept of greenways - as long as the route crosses someone else's land. If there is not an existing Greenways group or partnership in your region, your best starting place is to meet with other people in local community and environmental groups, find other people who are interested, and start mulling over the maps. It needn't matter if some of your lines pass across seemingly unbridgeable ravines or weave through pristine suburban neighbourhoods. Who knows what the future might bring ? A future fundraising effort or a green-minded government might pay for a bridge - and a group of future suburbanites might even turn over parts of their yards to create the greenway. A lot can change in 20 years.

The initial vision is one thing : the detailed implementation requires years of persistence, patience, persuasion, research and hard work. The key to success lies with building a solid partnership with the regional district, local municipalities, the province, local community and environmental groups and large land-owners, especially in forest and agricultural areas. To make progress, you'll need a committed non-profit society or greenways partnership with members who are willing to undertake the detailed work of negotiation, land purchase, fund-raising, trail-building, etc, and you'll need good connections with local MLAs, who can pull strings on your behalf.

As soon as you can, even if you have no idea where the actual routes of the greenways will go, it is wise to write greenways goals and policies into your community plans, verbalizing the vision and expressing the intention to create the greenways, giving the intention legal weight. You might want to do this as an amendment to the existing plans, if it is likely to be some years until a new community plan is produced.

Luckily for us all, a superb guide has been written as part of the Stewardship Series, called 'Community Greenways', published by the Ministry of Environment. To obtain a (free) copy, call 387-9853 in Victoria, or 1-800-387-9853 if you are outside Victoria.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Copy of the Community Greenways guide

Maps of local trails and footpaths

List of local people who are interested in or pursuing the greenways vision

13. SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

(4th Row, 1st Drawer)

Agriculture are forestry are the two defining planes of British Columbia's landscape - the yin and the yang that offset and balance each other. Both must be protected, if we are to protect the land as a whole.

Legally, we have the ALR (the Agricultural Land Reserve) and the FLR (the Forest Land Reserve), which prevent urban development from eating away at forests and farms. These provide us with an excellent foundation from which to work.

For agriculture, these are the main tools which can help you build a sustainable agricultural sector in your region, which can build the strength of the local agricultural economy without contributing to soil erosion, creek pollution or chemical contamination from pesticide and herbicide drift.

(a) Organic Farming, ending the use of chemicals on the land, while encouraging the return of songbirds, snakes and other species and producing quality organic food for local use.

(b) Brown Box programs, also known as Community Supported Agriculture, by which local growers supply their customers with a brown box full of organically grown fruit and vegetables every week. By setting up a Brown Box Co-operative, many smaller, part-time and back-yard urban growers could find a ready market for their crops. The easier it is for local farmers to earn a living, the greater the guarantee that the agricultural land-based will remain protected.

(c) Farmers' Markets, bringing the food direct to the customers, and strengthening the relationship between the farm folk and the city folk.

(d) Community Seed Exchanges, getting people back in touch with the tradition of storing and exchanging non-hybrid and heritage seeds.

(e) Subsidized Agricultural Water Rates, to ensure that the urban demand for water does not price out the farmers, a tendency which has been observed all over the world.

(f) Linking Land and Future Farmers (LLAFF). Established in Greater Victoria, LLAFF is a non-profit volunteer-run organization that links people who want to farm but have no land with people who have land but do not want to farm. Similar organizations could be established wherever there is a rural base, and where it is clear that there are fields sitting idle, for whatever reason.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Addresses of local Brown Box Programs

Addresses of local Farmers and Organic Farmers Organizations

 

14. SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY

(4th Row, 2nd Drawer)

The forest is the beginning of everything, here in B.C.. Before there were people, there was the forest, and the wealth of wildlife which live in the forest, from deer, bears, cougars and eagles to swamp cabbages, banana slugs and the humble deer-mouse, whose dung is so critical to the life-cycle of the tree roots.

To an outsider, at first glance, it might seem as if all is well in the forest. There are trees standing, everywhere. The experienced eye sees more, however. It sees how little of the original oldgrowth forest is left, even within the parks, with its huge trees, its rotting nurse logs and standing snags. It sees how dense is much of the secondary working forest, and how barren it is of wildlife, because the trees are all of the same age, and growing too close together, for lack of proper thinning.

This is not the place to go into the complexities of forest politics. For those of us who see the need to protect the forest from the perspective of land stewardship, however, there are some essential tools which can be used :

(a) Ecologically Certified Forestry. The biggest risk to our forested lands lies with the practice of industrial forestry, which often clearcuts the land, muddies the streams, destroys habitat and leaves us with a single species apology for a forest. Ecoforestry is forestry that is practiced according to ecosystem-based principles. It maintains the multi-generational aspect of the forest, preserves a percentage of old-growth trees, preserves the soil, protects wildlife habitat, and over a 200 year period, can yield twice or even three times as much timber as clearcutting does, and of a higher quality timber, too.

(b) Community Forestry. The government's definition of community forestry is industrial forestry, but controlled by a local municipality or community forestry corporation. Now imagine it going a step further down the road, as the Community Forest Committee is doing on Cortes Island, where some islanders are planning towards a future where they would establish a community ecoforestry corporation, raise a major chunk of loan capital, buy the forest off its owner, MacMillan Bloedel, and manage it according to ecoforestry principles. If successful, over the long run, they would produce more timber and generate more permanent jobs than industrial forestry can ever do, while safeguarding Cortes Island's forest heritage forever.

(c) A Forest Practices Act for Privately Owned Land. At present, there are no government controls over how a private landowner can log his or her land. This is a travesty of everything that land stewardship stands for, and for communities such as Denman Island, it means that the islanders must witness their island's forest heritage being ferried off the island, 20 truckloads a day. There is an urgent need for a Forest Practices Code which will apply to private lands, as it does to crown lands - and for the Code to be strengthened, so that forest stewardship under the Act becomes a meaningful term.

(d) Wilderness Preservation. In many areas of B.C., stewardship of the land means a struggle to protect certain areas of wilderness from logging altogether, whether it is in Clayoquot Sound, the Stoltzmann Wilderness or the Great Bear Rainforest. Without these large protected areas, the particular magic that is British Columbia will disappear. Scotland, with its barren moors, was once an oldgrowth rainforest - and we should never be lulled into believing that it cannot happen here.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Literature from local preservationist groups such as the Sierra Club, Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

Maps of local forest lands, with details of ownership

Maps of forest trails and logging roads through crown lands and private lands

Details of new government tax-break for privately managed land

15. SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRY

(4th Row, 3rd Drawer)

Notes

The need for employment, and for industrial zoning

The potentials of industrial ecology, and eco-industrial parks

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

16. A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY

(4th Row, 4th Drawer)

Notes

Local CED Corporation

Community currencies

Community finance/Community Bonds

The need for jobs, & greater local self-reliance

Green energy

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

17. PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

(Bottom Row, 1st Drawer)

Even in a perfect world where local councils and planners made perfect decisions, there would still be need for public involvement, because that is the only way to bring in local knowledge, and to allow for a proper democratic process over land-use changes. Where there is no proper public involvement, you get apathy and powerlessness, on the one hand, and anger, mistrust, finger-pointing and blame, on the other.

Many smaller municipalities and rural areas have no process for public involvement at all, apart from the Public Hearing (see below). The main tools at your disposal to increase public involvement in land-use planning are as follows :

(a) Local Community Associations, '1000 Friends' groups, land stewardship and watershed restoration groups (see Drawers 11, 14 & 15). The joy of having your own group is that you can set your own agenda, and be as imaginative as you want, instead of simply responding to someone else's agenda. A community association could use the Report Card from Drawer 11, for instance, to critique a local development proposal. The sky's the limit.

(b) Public Advisory Committees. These consist of members of the public, appointed by council or regional directors from a list of people who put forward their names in response to public advertising. It is the council's job to try to ensure that a balance of opinions is represented.

The practice whereby advisory committees in rural areas are appointed by the local electoral representative is a bad one, which runs the danger of being one-sided. The process whereby people are chosen to sit on advisory committees should always be transparent and impartial.

These are typical advisory committees that can effect land-use planning decisions : Advisory Planning Committee; Advisory Design Panel; Advisory Environment Committee; Advisory Transportation Committee.

At its best, a good advisory committee is given access to staff, and will help a council to make sound decisions and to draft new bylaws. At its worst, the committee members may feel isolated from both councillors and staff, and its recommendations may be ignored. An advisory committee chaired by one of its own members is preferable to one chaired by a councillor or regional director, since it allows the committee to be more cognizant of its members' interests, as well as addressing the council's agenda.

(c) Planning Department Public Outreach Strategies. Not many planning departments have a tradition of seeking out public involvement on land-use issues, apart from the mandatory advertisement of a Public Hearing (see below). A planning department which valued public involvement could take a number of steps to maximize public input, as follows :

• Create a list of recognized community, environmental and business groups and concerned professional associations as 'Partners in Planning', and set up a system to keep their members notified of key issues and developments.

• Arrange public on-site walk-abouts for local proposals.

• Co-develop a 'Land-Use Stakeholders Protocol', laying down an agreed process for informing and involving the public during land-use processes.

• Maintain an active website, publishing OCPs and Local Area Plans, details of all proposals currently under consideration, and lists of short and long-term planning goals and timetables.

• Invite members of the public to subscribe to an email service, issuing regular bulletins on current land-use issues.

• Establish electronic forums, where the details of specific proposals can be debated.

• Publish photos of each planner on the website, to encourage face-to-face familiarity between the planning staff and the public.

(d) Public Hearings. Whenever a new land-use by-law or by-law change is put before a Council or Board of Regional Directors, they are obliged to hold a Public Hearing, and to advertise it in the media. Members of the public are allowed to make written submissions and to speak, but there is no laid-down provision for dialogue or discussion on controversial aspects of a proposal (but nor is there any clause which says this may not happen).

Following the Public Hearing, council or board members sometimes assume that they may not receive any new information, although there is nothing in the Act which stipulates this. After a Hearing, the council or board may adopt or defeat the bylaw, or alter it before adoption, providing that the alterations do not alter the use, increase the density, or decrease the density without the owner's consent.

In municipalities or regional districts where there is no Advisory Planning or Design Commission, a council or regional board will usually receive a proposal from a developer, make whatever modifications staff or council recommend, draft the relevant bylaws, proceed to 1st or 2nd reading, and then bring the proposal to Public Hearing.

By this time, the momentum for approval is strong, and the developer has invested a considerable amount of time and money in the proposal. The mechanism for public input allows people to comment on the plans (for or against) and to make suggestions for improvements, but there is no way to correct misleading information or to dialogue around proposed changes. Since anyone is allowed anyone to speak at a Public Hearing, whether or not they understand the issues, a Hearing sometimes generates increased misunderstanding,

After the Hearing, if the council or board is set on proceeding to third reading, their semi-legal resistance to hearing any 'new' information eliminates the opportunity for constructive dialogue to improve the proposal.

Here is one possible solution to the dysfunctional nature of Public Hearings :

Create a process for public review before a proposal's bylaws are drafted, and before it moves to first reading. Call it a 'Public Pre-Hearing'. Then establish a process to facilitate good communication, as follows :

• Representatives from the developer, the planning department and the local community sit down together to discuss the proposal and to decide on the key issues of concern (eg density, parking, landscaping, transport impacts, affordability, etc). They choose an independent facilitator to run the pre-hearing.

• At the pre-hearing, after an initial overview presentation by the proponent, time is allocated for each area of concern, eg :

• ISSUE A (eg density). Brief presentation followed by a facilitated discussion, questions, answers and interactive dialogue. Alternative proposals or suggestions are noted by the facilitator, and fed into the dialogue.

• ISSUE B (eg parking). The process is repeated. When all the issues have been covered, there is a final period for general statements, of whatever nature.

• After the pre-hearing, arrange a follow-up meeting to go over the key issues, and discuss possible solutions. Make an arrangement to communicate the results back to the community.

(i) A 'Community Respect' Agreement

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

 

18. GETTING ELECTED

(Bottom Row, 2nd Drawer)

Notes

Elections. Not to be forgotten as a means of public involvement ! As well as standing for election yourself, there are other ways of getting involved, eg :

• Joining a campaign in support of a candidate you believe in.

• Asking questions at public meetings, and on radio phone-ins

• Organizing an all-candidates forum to discuss local land-use issues.

• Creating a questionnaire on local land-use issues, getting it endorsed by local community groups, giving a copy to each candidate and then publishing the results.

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

19. CHANGING THE RULES

(Bottom Row, 3rd Drawer)

Notes

Introduce direct elections to Regional Districts, and adjust the Regional District boundaries so that they accord with local watershed boundaries. Give the Regional District more powers of ecological stewardship, including over forestry issues, and rename it the *** Watershed Stewardship Council.

MoTH road width standards, and sign-off authority;

 

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

20. THE MYSTERY DRAWER

(Bottom Row, 4th Drawer)

Notes

Respect

Kindness

Magic

The power of positive thought

Imagining

The Rotary Club's 4-way test :

1. Is it the truth ?

2. Is it fair to all concerned ?

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships ?

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned ?

ADDITIONAL CONTENTS (to be added by the owner) :

Guy Dauncey, Sustainable Communities Consultancy

395 Conway Rd, Victoria BC V8X 3X1 Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

guydauncey@earthfuture.com November 1998