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New directions in local urban stream management: pilot experiences with development review processes… Crampton, Angela Michelle 1998

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NEW DIRECTIONS IN LOCAL URBAN STREAM MANAGEMENT: PILOT EXPERIENCES WITH DEVELOPMENT REVIEW PROCESSES IN THE COMOX VALLEY, BC By ANGELA MICHELLE CRAMPTON B.Sc, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1992 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE In THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standards THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA SEPTEMBER 1998 © Angela Michelle Crampton, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The negative contribution of stream habitat loss to fisheries sustainability in BC has been recognized. Thus, the impact of urban development on streams has become a critical aquatic resource issue. Responsibility for protecting streams from urban development impacts is distributed among all levels of government, and different management processes have evolved to address limitations of this fragmented governance structure. Referral processes have been established to allow senior government input into urban development, but are time consuming, inconsistent, and somewhat reactive. Provincial planning processes support more proactive decision making, but are unable to implement urban stream protection. Local processes have only recently been introduced to fill management gaps and better address urban stream issues. The goal of this thesis is to analyze urban stream management processes in BC and evaluate a new pilot initiative as a local mechanism for improving these processes. To achieve this goal, a program evaluation framework is created and used to evaluate a pilot initiative between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, and the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona. This initiative was developed to improve the existing system for reviewing aquatic habitat impacts of urban development proposals. Information on the case study was collected from interviews, documents and records, case examples, and observations. Key strengths of the pilot initiative included a committed local government, supportive senior agencies, sharing of information and resources, and opportunities for education. Key weaknesses included limited public involvement, lack of a regulatory framework, and lack of a broader watershed perspective. Based on the case study evaluation, local processes can improve opportunities for urban stream protection. Critical factors for local urban stream management programs include local commitment and support, senior agency involvement, and public involvement. Local programs need to strike a balance between consistent stream protection and regulatory flexibility, and should be part of a larger watershed-based management approach. Results of these local efforts may not be seen over the short term, but initiating local programs to proactively integrate stream protection into urban development can help protect aquatic and fisheries resources over the long term. Table of Contents Abstract « Table of Contents iv List of Tables viii List of Figures ix List of Abbreviations x Acknowledgements xi CHAPTER I. Introduction 1 1.1 Background 1 1.1.1 The Need for Integration in Aquatic Resource Management 1 1.1.2 The Threat to Urban Streams 2 1.2 Thesis Goal and Specific Objectives 4 1.3 Structure of the Thesis 5 1.4 Assumptions and Scope 6 CHAPTER II. Management of Urban Streams in British Columbia 8 2.1 Governance Structure for Urban Stream Management 8 2.1.1 Federal Role and Responsibilities 8 2.1.2 Provincial Role and Responsibilities 11 2.1.3 Local Role and Responsibilities 16 2.1.4 First Nations Role and Responsibilities 22 2.1.5 Summary: The Problem 23 2.2 The Evolution of Stream Management Processes in BC 24 2.2.1 Referral Processes 25 2.2.2 Planning Processes 30 2.2.3 Local Processes.... 38 2.3 Towards Decentralized Management 45 CHAPTER III. New Directions for Urban Stream Management 50 3.1 Cooperative Strategies 51 3.2 Coordination 55 3.3 Linkages 57 3.4 Public Involvement 59 3.5 Use of Proactive Tools 61 3.5.1 Education 62 3.5.2 Local Land Use Planning and Regulation 64 3.6 Summary: One Solution 66 CHAPTER IV. A Program Evaluation Framework for Local Urban Stream Management Programs 68 4.1 Building the Program Evaluation Framework 68 4.1.1 Process and Outcome Variables 70 iv 4.1.2 Implementation Variables 73 4.1.3 Structure of the Framework 77 4.2 Elements of the Evaluation Framework for Urban Stream Management Programs 79 4.2.1 Program Design 80 4.2.2 Participation and Support 82 4.2.3 Resources 82 4.2.4 Cooperative Strategies 83 4.2.5 Coordination 84 4.2.6 Linkages 85 4.2.7 Education 85 4.2.8 Land Use Planning and Development Control 86 4.3 Summary 87 CHAPTER V. Methods for Evaluating the Case Study 88 5.1 Research Approach 88 5.2 Data Collection 91 5.2.1 Interviews 91 5.2.2 Documents and Records 95 5.2.3 Case Examples 96 5.2.4 Observation 97 5.3 Use of Data Sources and Analysis 97 5.4 Data Verification 98 CHAPTER VI. A Case Study of a Local Urban Stream Management Program 101 6.1 The Case Study Setting and Background: Comox Valley, British Columbia 101 6.1.1 Location and Biophysical Setting 101 6.1.2 Political Setting 104 6.1.3 Socioeconomic Setting 107 6.1.4 Aquatic Resource Problems 110 6.1.5 Evolution Towards Local Stream Management Processes 112 6.2 Design of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 117 6.2.1 Towards an Agreement 117 6.2.2 The Concept 118 6.2.3 Overall Purpose and Objectives 118 6.2.4 Roles and Responsibilities 120 6.2.5 Key Components and Activities 120 6.3 Implementation of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 121 6.3.1 Identification of Environmentally Sensitive Areas 121 6.3.2 Review of Development Proposals 125 6.4 Evaluations of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 128 CHAPTER VII. Application of the Evaluation Framework to the Case Study 129 7.1 Program Design 129 7.1.1 Clear and Consistent Objectives 129 7.1.2 Adequate Rationale 133 7.2 Participation and Support 134 7.2.1 Appropriate Participants 134 v 7.2.2 Supportive Participants 135 7.2.3 Local Ownership and Commitment 138 7.2.4 Involved and Supportive Public 140 7.3 Resources 143 7.3.1 Financial Resources Provided 143 7.3.2 Useful and Complete Information Provided 146 7.3.3 Training and Expert Advice Provided 150 7.4 Cooperative Strategies 151 7.4.1 Increased and Supported Local Role 151 7.4.2 Cooperative Roles. 153 7.4.3 Conflict Resolution 156 7.5 Coordination 158 7.5.1 Clear Roles 158 7.5.2 Clear Procedures/Guidelines 160 7.5.3 Improved Communication 162 7.6 Linkages 164 7.6.1 Appropriate Sectors Involved 164 7.6.2 Integration of Stream Protection and Development Process 166 7.6.3 Integration in a Watershed Context 168 7.7 Education 170 7.7.1 Increased Local Awareness 170 7.7.2 Improved Cross-Disciplinary Understanding 171 7.7.3 Public Education 172 7.8 Land Use Planning and Development Control 174 7.8.1 Proactive and Protective Land Use Planning 174 7.8.2 Proactive and Protective Development Process 177 7.8.3 Effective Stream Protection Measures 180 7.8.4 Appropriate Enforcement 184 CHAPTER VIII. Conclusions and Recommendations from the Case Study 186 8.1 Overall Evaluation of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 186 8.2 Key Strengths and Weaknesses 189 8.2.1 Program Direction 190 8.2.2 Committed Local Government 192 8.2.3 Supportive Senior Agencies 193 8.2.4 More Involved Public 194 8.2.5 Shared Information and Expertise 195 8.2.6 Interagency Relationships 197 8.2.7 Modified Referral Process 197 8.2.8 Opportunities for Education 199 8.2.9 Delayed Local Regulatory Framework 200 8.2.10 Limited Monitoring and Enforcement 201 8.2.11 Lack of a Watershed Perspective 202 8.2.12 Program Sustainability 203 8.3 But...Is it Protecting Urban Streams? 204 8.4 Recommendations for Improvements 206 8.4.1 Involve Participants in Program Design 207 8.4.2 Continue Improving the Habitat Atlas 208 8.4.3 Develop Training Material 210 8.4.4 Clarify Roles and Decrease Redundancy 210 8.4.5 Continue Linkages with Local Environmental NGOs 212 vi 8.4.6 Increase Public Communication and Involvement 213 8.4.7 Revise Land Use Plans and Establish Development Permit Areas .215 8.4.8 Implement Monitoring 216 8.4.9 Expand Scope of the Pilot Initiative 217 CHAPTER IX. Summary: Broad Lessons in Urban Stream Management 221 REFERENCES 230 APPENDIX A. Interview Questions 241 APPENDIX B. Summary Database of Record Data 246 APPENDIX C. Memorandum of Understanding 1995 and 1997 266 List of Tables Table 6.1 Summary of applications reviewed under the Comox Valley pilot initiative from July 1995 to March 1997 127 Table 8.1 Overall evaluation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative according to the thesis evaluation framework 187 Table 8.2 Summary table of main themes of the Comox Valley pilot initiative and key strengths and weaknesses 191 viii List of Figures Figure 2.1 Fraser River Estuary Management Program project review process (based on Lambertsen 1987) 29 Figure 2.2 A proposed land use planning hierarchy for BC (based on CORE 1994a) 37 Figure 3.1 New directions in urban stream management 50 Figure 4.1 Different layers of information and theory used to build the evaluation framework .71 Figure 4.2 Flow diagram of the evaluation framework inputs, processes, and outputs 77 Figure 4.3 Detailed tree diagram of the evaluation framework, including specific elements (inputs, processes, outputs) and their indicators 81 Figure 6.1 Map of the Comox Valley and inset identifying the location within BC (from Morris et al. 1979) 102 Figure 6.2 Simplified diagram of RDCS development decision-making processes before (a) and after (b) the Comox Valley pilot initiative 106 Figure 6.3 Different information layers of the Habitat Atlas 123 Figure 6.4 Sample map sheet from the Habitat Atlas (from DFO et al. 1995) 124 ix List of Abbreviations BCE BC Ministry of Environment (used throughout thesis despite administrative name changes) BC MAF BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food BC MMA BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs BC MOTH BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways BC MOF BC Ministry of Forests CDC Conservation Data Centre CEAA Canadian Environmental Assessment Act CORE Commission on Resources and Environment CWS Canadian Wildlife Service DFO Department of Fisheries and Oceans DPAs Development permit areas DVPs Development variance permits ELUC Environment and Land Use Committee ERC Environment Review Committee ESAs Environmentally sensitive areas FISS Fisheries Information Summary System FRAP Fraser River Action Plan FREMP Fraser River Estuary Management Program GVRD Greater Vancouver Regional District IWMP Integrated Watershed Management Plan LRMP Land and Resource Management Plan LWMP Liquid Waste Management Plan LUCO Land Use Coordination Office MOU Memorandum of Understanding NGOs Non-governmental organizations NPS Non point source OCPs Official community plans RDCS Regional District of Comox-Strathcona TRIM Terrain Resource Information Map x Acknowledgements One of the benefits of spending a "few" years researching, writing, and completing a graduate thesis is that it allows me the opportunity to thank people who have helped me along the way. Seeing as this is the only time in my life I will be able to write down an official acknowledgement of these people, the list is long. On an academic level, I would like to thank my thesis supervisor, Tony Dorcey, who allowed me to explore my ideas while still keeping me relatively focused. I appreciated his organization, timeliness, and positive nature. I remember one time in particular when I was struggling with my interview results. Tony happened to pass by, gave me some words of encouragement, direction, and realism, and I was back on track. Another significant supporter of my research was the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona (RDCS) Planning Department. I would like to thank Harry Harker and Linda Harvey for the access they allowed me to information, the time they took to answer my questions, and their willingness to help me. I feel very fortunate, and I hope this thesis is useful to RDCS. Thanks are also extended to those people I interviewed, although they will remain nameless. I would also like to thank my committee members, Rod Bell-Irving, Dr. Ken Hall, and Dr. Les Lavkulich, who took time out of their busy schedules to help guide me. They provided direction to my research, were always approachful, and taught me a lot. Staff at the UBC Department of Resource Management and Environmental Studies, in particular Dr. Les Lavkulich and Nancy Dick, provided me with support throughout my stay at RMES. Although often unrecognized, their efforts are not forgotten. I would also like to thank the students I have met during my stay at RMES, including participants in Tony's Thesis Advisory Round Table (the TTARTs). Fellow RMESers provided me with a source for venting frustration and have become good friends. I was particularly happy I did not suffer in silence, thanks to my office mate Emma Caddy. I gratefully acknowledge my various funding sources, including BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks Environment Scholarship, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and UBC Department of Resource Management and Environmental Studies. I also acknowledge EVS Environment Consultants, who allowed me flexibility in a busy work schedule to complete my course requirements. On a personal level, my family, Phil, Carol and Jeff, have always been incredibly supportive. They have provided me with encouragement and love, and I am happy to make them proud. Most importantly, they were never concerned about when I was going to be finished. My friends have been equally supportive and have given me an important social outlet. Finally, I would like to especially thank Ryan Hill. Having a partner who has gone through the same struggles has been wonderful. He has survived my proscratination, stress, whining, excitement, frustration, questions, relief, and general unpleasantness; he's probably more relieved than anybody that I am finished. Ryan, I really couldn't have done this without you. 1. Introduction 1.1 Background 1.1.1 The Need for Integration in Aquatic Resource Management Multiple human activities affect aquatic resources in developed watersheds. Some watersheds are completely urbanized, while resource extraction or recreation predominates in more remote watersheds. Along British Columbia's southern coast, multiple land and water uses in watersheds fall under the jurisdiction of different levels and/or agencies of government. If a stream was surveyed from its headwaters to its mouth, the following scenario might be observed: => BC Ministry of Forests is responsible for forestry operations near upper reaches. => BC Ministry of Employment and Investment is responsible for a mine near upper reaches. => BC Ministry of Environment is responsible for freshwater fish and habitat throughout the stream. => Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for anadromous fish and habitat throughout the stream. => BC Ministry of Environment is responsible for waste discharges and water licenses throughout the stream. => BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways is responsible for major transportation corridors that cross stream reaches. => A Municipality is responsible for urban development near all reaches within municipal boundaries. => A Regional District and/or BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways is responsible for urban and rural development near all reaches within unincorporated boundaries. => A First Nation Band Council is responsible for development near all reaches crossing reserve land. 1 => A Regional District and BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food are responsible for development near lower reaches within the Agricultural Land Reserve. => A Municipality, Regional District, or BC Ministry of Environment is responsible for floodplain development along lower reaches. Aquatic resource management must move beyond the administrative complexity and barriers created by such a fragmented governance structure. For despite falling under different jurisdictional responsibility, all land and water uses in a watershed affect streams to some degree. Human activities traditionally occur in isolation of each other with little recognition of the cumulative effects of site-specific activities. Where human activities have failed to be managed in a holistic manner, aquatic resources have been plagued by unanticipated, detrimental, and costly impacts. To ensure protection and sustainable use of aquatic resources, human activities and their implications need to be integrated so that their connectivity can be understood and acted upon. It has become accepted that watersheds offer an ecologically-based unit for achieving integration and harmonizing human activities with aquatic resource protection (Dixon and Easter 1986). Some types of development are being managed within a more integrated framework; for example, forest development in community watersheds is considered within integrated planning processes that address multiple uses of the watershed, and mine development is considered under environmental assessment legislation that addresses cumulative effects. But aquatic resource issues, and streams in particular, have only recently begun to be integrated into urban development. 1.1.2 The Threat to Urban Streams Less than 6% of the land in BC is privately owned, but human settlement has often occurred in highly productive and sensitive areas being accessed by multiple users (CORE 1995). 2 Urbanization can significantly alter watersheds by destroying wildlife habitat, creating habitat islands, breaking up migration corridors, and eroding soil resources. Less immediately obvious are the changes at the land-water interface and the consequent impacts to aquatic resources; urbanization probably has the greater impact per unit area on the hydrologic cycle than any other land use (MacKenzie 1987). The effects of urban development stem from land clearing and construction activities, as well as the density, location, and pattern of development over time. In small amounts, urban development may have limited impacts, but as density increases in an urban watershed the effect on aquatic resources will also increase. Streams support freshwater and anadromous fish stocks, providing the necessary water quality and quantity, cover, food, substrate, and access that fish need to survive. Streams deteriorate when urban development causes direct and indirect changes to: • water quantity (e.g., more impervious surfaces, less vegetation, and less natural water storage exaggerate high and low stream flows); • water quality (e.g., land clearing causes erosion and increases stream sediment load; various land uses introduce contaminants from point and non point sources), and • physical habitat conditions (e.g., land clearing destroys riparian habitat; channelization, barriers, water quantity impacts, and riparian habitat loss alters instream habitat). The most critical area for fish protection is the stream and its riparian area, the transitional environment between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems where each system interacts and/or affects the other (Binford and Bucheneau 1993, Millar et al. 1997). But urban development outside riparian areas also affects stream health. Protected riparian areas may not adequately protect streams and need to be paired with appropriate upland management, preferably at a watershed scale (Binford and Bucheneau 1993). Also, many urban areas will not encompass entire watershed units, and upstream and/or downstream activities will also be deteriorating 3 streams. Together, urban development and resource-based activities such as forestry and mining cause greater stream impacts than either would alone. Thus, streams within the urban environment need to be appropriately managed, but should not be managed without linkages to a broader watershed context. In the face of widespread concern over fisheries sustainability in BC, the negative contribution of stream habitat loss has been recognized (Independent Panel 1998). Thus, the impact of urban development on streams has become a critical aquatic resource management issue. Most streams in the Vancouver area have been lost and are no longer accessible to fish as a result of culverting, dyking, and filling (DFO n.d.). The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC listed urban streams at the top of BC's ten most endangered rivers list in 1997, and in the number three spot on 1998's list (ORCBC 1997, 1998). Although the impact of urban stream habitat loss may remain unquantified, precautionary principles of management demand that urban streams be better protected. To facilitate this, management processes need to be able to integrate stream protection into urban development. New directions are needed to address current limitations in the fragmented governance structure, and support better stream protection. New urban stream management programs are being initiated in BC to meet these needs. The question is whether new programs are improving existing processes, and, in turn, urban stream protection. 1.2 Thesis Goal and Specific Objectives The goal of this thesis is to analyze urban stream management processes in BC and evaluate a new pilot initiative as a mechanism for improving these processes. Specific objectives to achieve this goal are to: 4 • describe the governance structure in BC for urban stream protection; • identify the problems with existing governance structures, administrative processes, and management tools for urban stream and aquatic resource management; • identify what is needed to improve urban stream management; • develop a framework based on this analysis that facilitates the evaluation of local urban stream management programs; • evaluate a case study of an urban stream management program using this framework to determine if it is an appropriate mechanism for improving current processes; and • recommend improvements for the case study and discuss broader implications to local urban stream management in BC. 1.3 Structure of the Thesis The thesis is structured to meet the above objectives. This chapter provided the context for urban stream issues, introduced the focus of the thesis, identified its goal and objectives, and broadly defined its assumptions and scope. Chapter 2 provides background information on the key legislative and administrative responsibilities of each level of government with respect to protecting streams from urban development impacts. The chapter then presents the referral, planning, and local processes that have evolved within this governance structure to manage urban streams and aquatic resources. Locally-based management is identified as a key element of urban stream protection. Chapter 3 moves forward from this discussion to suggest broad directions for locally-based urban stream management that will help address existing problems in legislation and management and planning processes. Using principles of program implementation and evaluation research, a framework for evaluating local urban stream management programs is presented in Chapter 4. This evaluation framework incorporates the new directions for urban stream management suggested in the previous chapter. At this point, 5 the thesis focuses on the case study of a local urban stream management pilot initiative implemented in the Comox Valley on the east coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Data collection and analysis methods used for the case study are outlined in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 describes the setting and background to the case study. More detailed results about the case study from application of the evaluation framework are presented in Chapter 7. Conclusions of this evaluation are synthesized in Chapter 8 and presented as key strengths and weaknesses of the case study, and recommendations for improving the pilot initiative are provided from this analysis. Chapter 9 provides a broad summary on how urban stream management in BC can move forward and continue to evolve as more responsibility for urban stream management is shifted to the local level. 1.4 Assumptions and Scope Assumptions characterize any study and define its scope. First, the focus of this thesis is on urban stream protection, recognizing that urban development is only one impact threatening streams and that it should fit into a watershed management framework (as discussed in Section 1.1). Although not discussed in detail, watershed-based management is assumed to be the ideal scale for aquatic resource management. Second, the evaluation framework developed in Chapter 4 is based on a review of the evolution in urban stream management towards more locally-based initiatives. Thus, it identifies the elements needed in local urban stream management programs to improve existing processes. Although this framework guides the case study evaluation, the overall question asked is whether locally-based initiatives are improving existing processes for urban stream management. Third, the case study has site-specific characteristics that may not be generalizable to other situations. Because of its site-specific nature, the case study is not compared to another program or geographic area. Fourth, the scope of the case study determines what questions can be answered. For 6 example, the case study is a particular initiative involving only government agencies, so limited observations can be made about the role of the public. Also, the case study initiative only addresses certain aspects of urban stream management (e.g., streamside protection). Where possible, conclusions made in the thesis address the focus of the case study while capturing these broader issues. Finally, the case study evaluation does not fully analyze the economic costs of urban stream management programs. Rather, it recognizes that cost is an important consideration and is a limiting factor in any program. 7 2. Management of Urban Streams in British Columbia 2.1 Governance Structure for Urban Stream Management The following subsections provide background information on the existing governance structure that has been used to manage and protect urban streams. Some legislation is more directly relevant to stream protection than others. The intent of this section is to provide an overview of the fractured system in place for urban streams, and to set the context for later discussions. 2.1.1 Federal Role and Responsibilities The Canadian Constitution Act (1982) and its predecessor the British North America Act (1867) gave legislative powers over the sea coast and inland fisheries to the federal government, but few proprietary powers over land resources (i.e., public or private property) (Hanebury 1992). Initial conflicts between the legislative powers of the federal government over sea coast and inland fisheries and the proprietary and legislative powers of provincial governments over their resources (Section 2.1.2), which were perceived to include fish, resulted in administrative changes. In the early 1900s the provinces began assuming administrative and enforcement responsibility over inland fisheries. In BC, this change meant the federal government had full control over marine fish and anadromous fish in inland waters, while an agreement provided the province with management responsibility over all other inland fisheries (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). The federal government's constitutional responsibility over fisheries issues is enacted through the Fisheries Act (R.S.C. 1995, c.F-14), which legislates the protection and management of fish in Canada (Pearse et al. 1985). The Fisheries Act is administered by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and by the BC Ministry of Environment, Lands 8 and Parks (BCE)1 (Section 2.1.2). The Act focuses on regulating fishing and managing fish stocks, but also has provisions for protecting fish habitat (Pearse et al. 1985). The Fisheries Act is particularly relevant to stream protection as it is an offense under this Act to cause harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, except by means or under conditions authorized by DFO. How far upland "indirect fish habitat" extends is undetermined by the Act. Guidelines have been developed for certain activities that narrow this definition to a certain extent (see discussion of Land Development Guidelines in Section 2.2.3). DFO's Fish Habitat Management Policy is designed to facilitate consistent administration of the federal habitat program and achieve a net gain of habitat for fisheries resources (DFO 1986). The guiding principle of this policy is "no net loss" of habitats supporting fisheries resources using conservation, protection, and development strategies. The eight implementation strategies are: (1) protection and compliance, (2) integrated resource planning, (3) research, (4) public consultation, (5) public information and education, (6) cooperative action, (7) habitat improvement, and (8) habitat monitoring. The Fisheries Act also protects fish and fish habitat from water quality impacts by prohibiting the deposit of deleterious substances directly or indirectly into fish-bearing waters except where authorized by regulation. Industry-specific effluent discharge standards were developed under this authority in the 1970s (Dorcey 1987). Environment Canada administers this section of the Act, which has sometimes been used to prosecute polluters even when their activities are regulated under provincial legislation (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (R.S.C. 1995, c.C-15.3), also administered by Environment Canada, indirectly protects stream water quality by regulating the release of hazardous substances, prohibiting some substances, and developing environmental standards for others. 1 "BCE" is used to abbreviate the provincial Ministry of Environment, which has come under various names. 9 The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (R.S.C. 1995, c.C-15.2), which involves various federal agencies, provides a framework for evaluating the potential environmental impacts of developments, including cumulative effects. However, projects reviewed under this Act are often large resource-based projects (e.g., mines) that require decision making by federal agencies. They do not represent typical urban development. Similarly, large dams are reviewable projects under CEAA, the Fisheries Act, the Canada Water Act (R.S.C. 1995, c.C-11), and provincial legislation, but do not represent typical urban development. Under the Fisheries Act, DFO can request to review and assess proposed activities despite the lack of any licensing or permitting process for fish habitat protection (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). Because it is not a permitting agency, DFO relies on administrative linkages (e.g., referral processes; Section 2.2.1) with other agencies that regulate urban development to ensure DFO has the opportunity to review projects for potential habitat impacts. Based on their review, DFO can require modifications to activities, restrict operations, or direct the closing of the work; thus, it is able to protect streams before development occurs when this review process is used. DFO also relies on the threat of punitive provisions in the Fisheries Act to obtain compliance; however, enforcement of federal environmental legislation is often inconsistent2 (Pearse et al. 1985). If impacts can be shown to have occurred, charges can be laid. Herein lies the limitation of this legislation, as damage must be done for the Fisheries Act to be enforced. DFO can not require proponents to follow their recommendations, nor are proponents required to obtain approval from DFO; however, they run a greater risk of being prosecuted if they do not (Willmann and Insull 1993). The legislative framework provided by the Constitution Act has given the strongest available legislation for protecting fish habitat to the federal government through its established jurisdiction over fisheries issues. But the 2 Anne Mcllroy, "Ottawa Fails On Environment: Report", Globe & Mail (Section A), 23 May 1998. 10 federal government has no jurisdiction over the land-based activities that impact streams, except on federal lands, national parks, and First Nations reserves (Pearse et al. 1985). 2.1.2 Provincial Role and Responsibilities The Constitution Act gave proprietary powers over all public lands and legislative power over all matters of local or private nature within BC to the province (Hanebury 1992). The majority of responsibility over private land use has been delegated to local governments through the Municipal Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.323) (Section 2.1.3). Thus, on private land, the provincial government is in a similar position as the federal government; it has strong jurisdiction over water and fisheries resources, but less direct responsibility over land-based activities. Provincial jurisdiction is limited where the Constitution Act indicates exclusive jurisdiction by the federal government (Pearse et al. 1985). Therefore, because the responsibility for fisheries management rests with the federal government, this responsibility can not be completely assumed by the province. However, as discussed, BCE does administer the federal Fisheries Act for freshwater fish habitat by agreement with the federal government, and can lay charges under the Act (DFO et al. 1994). Provincial involvement in stream protection also comes from its legislated responsibility over water. Although the Constitution Act did not specifically include water, it has been interpreted to be included under the proprietary powers given to the provinces (Pearse et al. 1985). In BC, three key pieces of legislation govern aquatic resources; the Water Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.483), which focuses on water quantity (including instream activities); the Waste Management Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.482), which focuses on water quality; and the newly enacted Fish Protection Act (S.B.C. 1997, c.21), which addresses stream issues related to fish protection. 11 The Water Act is administered by BCE and regulates instream activities and water use through a series of application and licensing procedures. Instream activities, such as the construction of new riprap areas or bridges with instream supports, are regulated by an approval process under Section 7 of the Act (BC MELP 1993a). Proponents submit applications to BCE, who may obtain input from other agencies before providing a response. Recent (1992) amendments to the Water Act expanded its scope and allowed regulation of any instream activity, including construction of culverts and storm outfalls (BC MELP 1993a). However, some activities do not require a full approval if standard regulations are followed and BCE is notified. These standard regulations address some concerns related to habitat (e.g., timing construction during fisheries windows), but notifications are copied to provincial habitat staff and the proponent is responsible for contacting DFO. Charges can be laid for alteration of watercourses under the Water Act (DFO et al. 1994). Water use is regulated under the Act through an approval and licensing process. Water licenses are issued for a variety of beneficial uses, including domestic use, irrigation, and land improvements (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). When reviewing water use applications, the Water Manager considers water quality, flooding, and effects on other licensees (BC MELP 1993b). Applications for a water use license are distributed to other agencies for their input. A major criticism of the Water Act is its "first in time, first in right" design because it does not recognize changes in water resource availability and sustainability (BC MELP 1993b). Some conservation groups hold licenses for fish enhancement works, but often minimum stream flows have not been protected, although recent changes under the Fish Protection Act may help (see comments below). Neither the Water Act nor any other piece of legislation regulates groundwater use, which can affect stream flow. 12 The Waste Management Act regulates the discharge of pollutants into receiving waters, and is also administered by BCE. Permits are required for any waste discharge unless it: (1) complies with a waste management plan or the Act's regulations, (2) enters into an approved public waste disposal system, or (3) has special approval under the Act (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). Applications are submitted to BCE and circulated to appropriate agencies. The Waste Management Act regulates many point source discharges, but it has ignored some point sources of pollution (e.g., stormwater discharges) and all non point sources of pollution. For example, agricultural discharges are exempt from the requirements of the Act. Instead, a Code of Agricultural Practice for Waste Management has been developed, and farmers must follow its standards to continue to be exempt (Zimmerman 1996). Various pieces of legislation indirectly address other non point sources of pollution; for example, the Pesticide Control Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.360) requires permits for using certain pesticides, and regulations under the Health Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.179) require septic fields to be 30 m from streams. However, all of these legislative tools operate on a very site-by-site basis and ignore the cumulative effects of non point source pollution to stream water quality. The recently enacted Fish Protection Act encompasses riparian, water, and fish protection issues. This Act improves protection of minimum stream flows by requiring that fish habitat take precedence in water licensing processes on designated sensitive streams, allowing minimum flow protection licenses to be issued to community organizations, and allowing temporary reductions in water use rights during low flow conditions. Like most environmental legislation, it is predominantly enabling and thus subject to weak application. With respect to urban development, the provincial government can develop directives under the Act requiring local government to achieve streamside protection. These directives have been poorly received by many local governments and developers because of fears related to inflexibility 13 and sterilization of land, but public consultation on this regulation is ongoing (BC MELP 1998a). This legislation represents a positive but complicated step towards improving stream protection that has not yet fully evolved. The province has direct ownership and responsibility for Crown lands, and many activities on Crown land are regulated to protect streams (e.g., Forest Practices Code). Urban development occurs on private land under the jurisdiction of local government. However, the province can directly and indirectly affect the impact of private land development on streams through responsibilities related to floodplain development, subdivision development, transportation planning, and agricultural activities. The control of urban development on floodplains has its origins in different acts and initiatives. The federal-provincial Floodplain Mapping Program maps the 200 year floodplain for local areas susceptible to flooding. This program is delivered under the Canada/BC Agreement Respecting Floodplain Mapping, which also restricts the federal and provincial government from further undertakings in designated floodplains (BC MELP n.d.-a). Federal funding for this program expires in 1998. BCE's floodplain development control policy is based on different flood conditions but generally requires 15 m setbacks from a stream's natural boundary. On large rivers with extensive flooding and/or bank erosion, this setback can be between 30 and 60 m. Developments in designated floodplains were reviewed by provincial agencies in the past but this responsibility has been adopted by approximately 85% of local governments in recent years; adoption of this responsibility is discretionary (BC MELP 1993c, Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). Where local governments have not assumed this authority, BCE water management must approve floodplain setback reduction. Floodplain setbacks are included in local bylaws or requested at the time of subdivision by the Approving Officer under the Land 14 Title Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.250). Under this Act, subdivision applications may be refused or require revision if the land could be subject to flooding, whether or not it is within a designated floodplain area (BC MELP n.d.-a, Webb 1996). Before allowing subdivision of land in such areas, Approving Officers must obtain approval from BCE (BC MELP 1993c). Restrictions on floodplain development do not require protection of riparian vegetation, thus they often have limited ability to protect streams (Dovetail 1996). In regional districts, subdivisions are under provincial control and the Approving Officer is BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways (MOTH). A subdivision application under the Land Title Act can be refused based on environmental impacts. Some regional districts recently adopted responsibility for subdivision authority, but no devolution of power has occurred yet. BC MOTH also has an indirect influence over urban development patterns through their responsibilities for major transportation routes. The province has some jurisdiction over development on agricultural lands. Under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.131), local governments can not create a bylaw that affects land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) without obtaining approval from the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) (BC MAFF 1996, Dovetail 1996). Standards and guidelines are being developed for ALR lands to address watercourse setbacks (Dovetail 1996). Under the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.10), the provincial ALC reviews development applications to remove land from the ALR, or to allow nonfarm uses on ALR lands, but only considers issues related to agriculture. Like federal legislation, the BC Environmental Assessment Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.119) provides a framework for evaluating the potential environmental impacts of large developments. 15 However, projects reviewed under this Act are generally not representative of typical urban development. The mixed responsibilities of the provincial government over water and fisheries resources and some types of private land development allow them a certain degree of direct and indirect control over urban stream protection. But like DFO, BCE largely depends on administrative linkages to ensure stream protection issues are considered in other planning, approval, licensing, and permitting processes. 2.1.3 Local Role and Responsibilities Unlike the provincial and federal government, local governments are not acknowledged in the Constitution Act. The provincial government of BC establishes its existence and delegates authorities through the Municipal Act. Consequently, Canadian local governments are often perceived to have the least authority over any governance issue (Norton 1994a). In BC, local governments include incorporated municipalities (i.e., cities, districts, towns, and villages) and regional districts (i.e., larger areas encompassing incorporated municipalities and unincorporated rural areas). Regional districts have historically not played a strong political role and are considered to be more of a cooperative administrative arrangement between municipalities and adjacent unincorporated areas for the provision of services (Crossley 1989). Twenty-eight regional districts have been established in BC since 1965, and their mandatory functions include community planning in rural (or electoral) areas, building inspection, and the provision of environmental services such as water supply, sewerage, and solid waste disposal (Norton 1994a). 16 Canadian local governments are limited by the ultra vires rule where they can only do what is within their stated powers; in contrast, many European countries only identify those responsibilities excluded from the jurisdiction of local governments, allowing their responsibilities to evolve over time (Norton 1994b). The Municipal Act does not explicitly delegate any responsibility over natural resources to local governments, whereas the federal Fisheries Act and provincial Water Act, Waste Management Act, and Fish Protection Act clearly reflect senior jurisdiction over fisheries and aquatic resource issues. This structure implies that stream protection is outside local jurisdiction. What is clearly within the jurisdiction of local governments, however, is the control and management of urban development. The tools available through the Municipal Act to control development can be used to reduce the impact of urbanization on aquatic resources if the political will exists. Some of these tools have always been available (e.g., managing water drainage) but have only recently been used for protecting urban streams. Other tools, such as the use of development permit areas (DPAs) to protect natural areas, have only recently been revised to support stream protection (Webb 1996). However, the Municipal Act is primarily an enabling piece of legislation, and local governments may not choose to use these tools to protect streams (Doering et al. 1991). This flexibility means development tools will likely be used inconsistently throughout the province to protect streams at the local level (Webb 1996). But local governments are not exempt from the requirements of the federal Fisheries Act, are obligated to maintain fish habitat, and can be held liable if they approve a project without input from the appropriate senior agency and it results in damage to fish habitat (Dovetail 1996, Webb 1996). An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a broad planning document that sets out the policies and general statements guiding development within a local area. It identifies areas of future development, areas for park protection, principles that will be followed during urban 17 development, the types of development that will occur in different areas of the community, and other broad directions. This level of planning is strategic and only operationalized by bylaws, which must be consistent with the OCP (Webb 1996). The Municipal Act does not require local governments to adopt an OCP (Sandborn 1996, Webb 1996). Similarly, the Act enables but does not require local governments to consider environmental protection within OCPs. Some OCPs may have explicit stream protection principles or goals identified, but even if they do not, the general development patterns identified in the plan can affect aquatic resources. The OCP sets up the rationale for many future actions, so if stream protection policies are not explicit, bylaws and other actions of the local government need not consider such issues either. Adoption of OCPs by local governments involves public hearings and the municipal council or regional board must consider the public opinion solicited from these hearings, although they can still choose to adopt an OCP with limited public support. Zoning bylaws organize the local land base into different areas and provide the development conditions that must be met in these areas. Rural land use bylaws, which act as both a community plan and land use bylaw for rural areas, can also be used in regional districts. Zoning bylaws are designed to implement the policies of the OCP. Even if stream protection issues are included in an OCP, it is no guarantee that zoning bylaws will address such issues. If a bylaw does not conform to an OCP, or if a rezoning application proposes changes to an existing bylaw, it can be adopted if it goes through a public hearing phase (Dovetail 1996). Zoning bylaws identify permitted land use (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial, etc.), densities, lot size and setbacks, and other conditions of development. They can be used as proactive stream protection tools; for example, a zoning bylaw can restrict the degree of development or impose conditions of development in areas near streams. Zoning bylaws can allow local government to offer density bonuses to developers in exchange for protection of 18 riparian areas (Webb 1996). A limitation to the use of zoning bylaws is that local governments can not refuse to issue a permit for the zoned use of the land nor can they impose conditions which effectively prohibit development (i.e., sterilize the land or require prohibitive costs) (Dovetail 1996, Webb 1996). OCPs and bylaws drafted by regional districts for unincorporated areas must be reviewed by the province before adoption. The province does not require review of municipal OCPs and bylaws, although a municipality may choose to obtain the input of certain ministries. The Municipal Act allows the establishment of DPAs for the protection of sensitive lands (e.g., riparian areas), where special requirements or conditions need to be met for development (DFO et al. 1994). DPAs must be identified in the OCP, and a separate zoning bylaw needs to be adopted outlining the specific conditions for development to protect the area. With approval by BCE, these conditions can include the protection of vegetation to control erosion or protect fisheries in regional districts. DPAs are considered to be one of the most effective development control tools available to local government, particularly when designated before development begins to ensure proactive protection (Dovetail 1996). However, they require additional effort from local government as they add a permit requirement to the development process, and do not address environmental protection issues throughout the local area (Lanarc Consultants 1996). DPAs provide developers with a more transparent process by clarifying the conditions of development upfront, but existing landowners in new DPAs may be concerned about decreased property values and restricted development. If the requirements for a DPA, or any other local bylaw, are stricter than guidelines required by senior governments, developers could argue they met the minimum standard of the most senior levels of government (Dovetail 1994). 19 Once OCPs and zoning bylaws are in place, development proposals proceed through various permitting and approval processes. A rezoning application may be required if a development proposal requires a change in allowable land use or other zoning requirements. Some rezoning applications may require a public hearing to propose amendments to the OCP. Development proposals may require a variance in the zoning bylaw to accommodate a particular feature of the project. Development Variance Permits (DVPs) allow a relaxation of local lot standards such as size, coverage, and road setbacks. DVPs could be used for stream protection if relaxed lot standards allow buildings to be concentrated away from streams (DFO et al. 1994). However, they can also impede stream protection if setbacks are reduced. Building permits are required before construction begins to ensure the building meets all appropriate housing codes and lot setback requirements. This system of approvals and permits required for development on private land is intended to ensure the principles and policies set out in OCPs and bylaws are followed. However, the site-by-site decisions made during the development process, especially through rezoning applications and DVPs, can lead to incremental changes that cause cumulative impacts to streams (Dovetail 1996). Subdivision applications are made to create multiple lots from an existing lot. The initial subdivision of land requires a process of review and approval that is different than other stages of development. In regional districts, applications to subdivide an existing property are currently under the authority of BC MOTH (Section 2.1.2). Following various recommendations (e.g., CORE 1994a), subdivision authority will be adopted by regional districts in the near future. Under the Land Title Act, Approving Officers are responsible for technical aspects such as plan layout, drainage issues, and construction standards. Through referral processes, they must ensure OCPs are followed and environmental issues are considered. Municipalities can create subdivision bylaws which set out the standards of development for subdivision projects, 20 including stream setbacks, water and waste disposal, and stormwater collection (Webb 1996). When an existing property is proposed for subdivision, a rezoning application may be required if the proposed lots do not meet current zoning requirements. Under the Municipal Act, a 5% park land designation can be required by local government if subdivided lots will be less than 2 ha in size, although the landowner can opt to pay an equivalent amount in cash instead (Sandborn 1996, Webb 1996). This park land could be designated along a stream. To allow the local government to choose between land dedication or cash or determine the location of park land, their OCP must identify these types of policies and designate the location and type of future parks. A 5% protection policy is often inadequate for protecting a stream corridor within a subdivided area and providing active park land for residents (Webb 1996). Under the Land Title Act, covenants can be granted by landowners to the local government, senior governments, or other designated groups to protect a piece of land or its specific features. Covenants are often dedicated during subdivision, but can also be dedicated at anytime by a landowner. Covenants are registered against the land title, and are transferred to new landowners when a property is sold. Unfortunately, covenants often do not provide a consistent level of stream protection because of a lack of monitoring, enforcement, and education (Inglis et al. 1995). The Condominium Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.64), which specifically governs the construction of high-density residences, allows the provincial or municipal Approving Officer to require dedication of 7.5 m along the stream bank or foreshore length for public access (Sandborn 1996, Webb 1996). Local governments can develop "environmental" bylaws to control specific land-based activities and avoid impacts to streams (Webb 1996). Tree protection or management bylaws allow municipalities to require permits for cutting trees or to prohibit tree removal in a sensitive 21 area. Regional districts can only protect trees with such bylaws if the land is at risk of flooding, eroding, or other hazards. Soil removal and deposition bylaws allow local governments to regulate the removal and placement of fill. Administrative responsibilities under the permit regulations of the Soil Conservation Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.434) allow local government to control the placement and type of fill on ALR lands. Various sections of the Municipal Act support the development of bylaws to control pollution of watercourses, including controlling stormwater discharges from private properties. In some cases, these bylaws may duplicate processes at senior levels of government, such as the provincial approval process for instream activities. Local governments can also address stream protection issues by modifying some of their service-oriented tasks (DFO et al. 1994). For example, local public institutions can be built outside riparian corridors, road crossings can avoid the use of culverts, waste and stormwater management systems can be constructed as closed, nonpolluting systems, or utility networks can be planned to avoid sensitive areas. Because the location of utilities greatly affects the pattern of growth, the utility network should also be planned to protect streams. 2.1.4 First Nations Role and Responsibilities Currently, First Nations have a limited legislative and administrative role in urban stream management, but reserves are often located adjacent to streams. First Nations are under the authority of the federal government according to the Constitution Act, and reserve lands are considered to be under federal jurisdiction (Pearse et al. 1985). The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) is responsible for the administration of land and resources on reserves. This governance structure provides the federal government with more control over the impacts of development on these lands. Most Bands control land development on reserves through the Band Council and are responsible for ensuring that streams are protected; often the small size of urban reserves limits development options. First Nations are 22 a key stakeholder in the management of fisheries and aquatic resources; however, the spatial extent of native reserve lands in urban areas is generally small. Because this thesis is focused on urban stream management, treatment of this topic is limited. 2.1.5 Summary: The Problem The fractured governance structure in BC does not readily facilitate an integrated and proactive approach to urban stream management. Government levels are separated by territorial boundaries, and government agencies are separated by sectoral boundaries (Kennett 1990). This fragmented structure splits a stream or a watershed amongst various responsible parties, often leading to externalities whenever one agency or jurisdiction makes a decision that affects another. Although it helps simplify complex problems, managing multiple issues of a single system separately inevitably leads to an ignorance of their interrelatedness. The strongest criticism of reductionist science is that a system is more than just the sum of its parts (Jorgensen et al. 1992); the same could be said about governance. The governance structure for urban stream management in BC is troubled by gaps and overlaps in responsibility and authority. Its fragmented nature does not easily allow different government and other stakeholders to collectively identify goals, objectives, and strategies. There is no single agency or level of government integrating all of the issues related to urban stream management, let alone watershed protection. Urban stream protection has never been the goal. In the past, this issue has fallen through cracks in the governance structure or has been slotted into the existing structure in a reactive manner. For example, unless local government approaches DFO and BCE for input on development plans and proposals, there is no clear means for senior agencies to actively protect streams from urban development. Efforts made by DFO and BCE to improve urban stream protection always depend on local 23 political will and staff commitment to adopt new strategies. Because DFO and BCE both have jurisdiction over fish and fish habitat, confusion is inevitable. Legislation has often not been used to its fullest potential for urban stream protection; for example, the tools available to local government through the Municipal Act and the consideration of fish needs in water licensing under the Water Act. Again, legislation is inconsistently used because it is often enabling and depends on political will at all levels of government. The problems stemming from the incomplete links between urban development and stream protection are growing with population size in many regions, leaving the fragmented governance structure for urban stream management calling for integration of its parts. 2.2 The Evolution of Stream Management Processes in BC Administrative processes have evolved within the governance structure to integrate stream protection and urban development, and avoid historically isolated, sectoral decision making. As resource issues became more complex, these processes grew from permitting systems and guideline processes, to temporary roundtables and permanent interagency committees (Dorcey 1986, McPhee et al. 1993). Administrative processes addressing urban stream management have broadly evolved from referral processes, to planning processes, to local processes, although in many regions not all of these processes have necessarily been used. The following subsections review how this evolution has tried to improve the fragmented governance structure and the protection of urban streams and aquatic resources through better integration and more proactive decision-making. This discussion shows the origins of these processes and their objectives, and points towards new directions for urban stream management. 24 2.2.1 Referral Processes Because various levels and agencies of government are responsible for urban development and stream protection, administrative linkages are needed to ensure different issues are integrated. Agency referral processes have been very important to urban stream management. Referral processes evolved to inform interested agencies of a particular activity so that all appropriate issues were considered, activities were coordinated, conflicts were resolved, and informed decisions were made (Arduino 1994, McDougall 1982). Referrals facilitate the involvement of various agencies in decision making, and are an interagency and multistakeholder communication tool (Arduino 1994). The referral process originally began as an informal mechanism to incorporate fisheries concerns into forestry activities (Dorcey 1986). As the number of agencies, project types, development pressures, and environmental issues increased, the referral process became more institutionalized and more complex. As project proponents became more directly involved in the referral process, this complexity grew. Applications are generally submitted to a lead agency, who distributes them to other interested agencies. Referrals to other agencies may be mandatory (i.e., required by statute, policy, or agreement) or discretionary (i.e., at the discretion of the lead agency or proponent) (Arduino 1994). Verbal and written referral responses can range from no comment to a detailed examination and discussion of the issues. As the referral process became more complex, agencies evolved different response strategies to reduce workload. Some agencies agreed that no response meant the referral agency had no concerns with the proposal, other agencies prioritized incoming referrals and developed standard forms and guidelines to simplify responses (Arduino 1994, Dorcey 1986). The referral process is currently the primary mechanism for integrating stream protection issues into the urban development process. For example, in the lower Fraser Valley, 45% of 25 local governments relied on referral mechanisms to address stream protection issues (Quadra 1995). Generally, whenever a development proposal has the potential to affect fish, fish habitat, and/or watercourses, local governments should refer the proposal to senior agencies (DFO et al. 1994, Dovetail 1996). OCPs, rezoning applications, subdivision applications, and DVPs are commonly referred to senior fisheries agencies by local government. Proponents sometimes bypass the local government and submit their proposals directly to senior agencies for input. Some referrals flow from senior government agencies to local governments; for example, BCE refers waste management permit applications to local governments to identify local concerns or restrictions. Referrals also occur between senior government agencies; for example, BCE may refer water use applications and BC MOTH may refer subdivision applications to fisheries agencies. A fundamental problem with the federal Fisheries Act is that it is reactive; it can only be used to penalize an individual or organization if it can be proven that fish and/or fish habitat were altered or destroyed. Referral processes have allowed a relatively more proactive approach by enabling agencies to look at some urban development projects before they are implemented to prevent or mitigate impacts (Arduino 1994). DFO and BCE habitat units depend on these referral process as they have no direct permitting or approval system to otherwise ensure their concerns are addressed. Urban development referrals provide local governments, who do not generally have specific expertise in aquatic issues, with technical support. Despite improving agency communication, integrating different issues during decision making, and achieving additional protection, over time the referral process has become problematic and limited in its approach and scope. Problems with the referral process include: 26 • It can be confusing and slow, suffering from poor agency coordination and a resulting duplication of effort (Doering et al. 1991, Dovetail 1994). The administrative linkages created by the referral process have become "bottlenecks" within the governance structure. • It can be incomplete; agencies may be omitted from the referral process or referrals may not be initiated (Dorcey 1986). Urban development referrals are not consistently used by local governments to protect streams (Sandborn 1996). • It occurs late in the development process, when concerns raised about stream protection will cause frustration and extra costs to the proponent or lead agency. • It is difficult to implement when guided by poorly defined mandates and unclear or nonexistent policies (Doering et al. 1991, McPhee et al. 1993). • It is unlikely to consider cumulative effects as development proposals are only reviewed on a site-by-site basis. This limitation leads to negative impacts at a watershed scale (Dovetail 1994, McPhee etal. 1993). • It is limited in its inclusion of the public (Arduino 1994). As population growth, development rates, and environmental awareness have increased, there has been increased reliance on the referral process. The result is that there are too many referrals and not enough resources. A lack of resources to do proper reviews, field visits, monitoring, and enforcement limits the effectiveness of the process (Arduino 1994, McPhee et al. 1993). The heavy workload and delays that result from limited resources have caused inappropriate and inconsistent protection, and frustrate both the agencies and users of the system (Doering et al. 1991, Dovetail 1994, Sandborn 1996). At times, the referral process that is draining already limited resources is not achieving stream protection. 27 As referrals became more complex and problems developed, more formal and informal agency agreements were developed to coordinate activities or divide responsibilities; for example, the use of referral coordinators, task forces, and single windows of review (Arduino 1994). One such initiative is the project review process used for the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP). FREMP is a cooperative agreement between Environment Canada, DFO, BCE, the Fraser Harbour Commission, the North Fraser Harbour Commission, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) designed to achieve coordinated decision making in the Fraser River estuary (FREMP 1994). It has a history of development and implementation that spans over two decades. FREMP manages the estuary foreshore as opposed to streams, but provides an interesting example of more recent changes in referral processes. FREMP depends on three key management tools to reduce conflict and improve decision making and management; the project review process, the area designation process, and the conflict resolution process (FREMP 1994). The project review process was developed to address some of the problems experienced with the referral process, namely its duplication of effort, delays, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, information gaps, and inadequate regulatory linkages (FREMP 1992). All development proposals near the estuary must be forwarded to the FREMP Environmental Review Committee (ERC) through one of the lead agencies who own and/or administer foreshore in the estuary (i.e., the two harbour commissions and BCE). Alternatively, proposals may be forwarded directly to FREMP by local government if the land in question is privately owned. From this point, the process still relies on referrals; however, the ERC acts as a single window of review and coordinates all of the responses provided by the referral agencies (Lambertsen 1987) (Figure 2.1). The project review process takes into consideration area designations, habitat classification (Section 2.2.2), and local zoning. A key advantage of this process is that it provides a more thorough and relatively less time-28 consuming review of proposed developments in the estuary foreshore. The timeline of review is generally not shorter than the standard referral process, but eliminates many of the surprises that can often extend the review period (Lambertsen 1987). It ensures that all appropriate agencies are involved in decision making. Public input into the project review process is facilitated by including applications in a Central Project Registry available for public comment. Applicant I Lead Agency (BCE, FRHC, NFHC)* Central Project Registry-* FREMP Secretariat i 1 n Other Review Environmental Review Committee Agencies (prepare coordinated response) 1 1 1 i Central Project Registry -« FREMP Secretariat FREMP Management | Committee Executive Lead Agency (for higher level decisions) I Applicant (* BC Environment, Fraser River and North Fraser Harbour Commissions) Figure 2.1 Fraser River Estuary Management Program project review process (based on Lambertsen 1987) Although there still remains a role for referral processes, there is a trend within government agencies to reduce their reliance on referrals as resources become more limited (Dovetail 1996). Agencies continue to find ways to coordinate, organize, streamline, prescreen, and speed up the referral process (Arduino 1994), in some cases placing more responsibility on developers to identify impacts, meet minimum standards, etc.. The referral process allows 29 habitat protection agencies to comment on some urban development projects before they occur, but it still suffers from similar limitations as the legislation used to protect urban streams. Unless the referral agency is able to reject an application, stream protection is only effective on a site-by-site basis, comments are provided late in the development process, and protection still depends on the project proponent following habitat protection recommendations. These limitations of the referral process point the way towards the next evolution in aquatic resource management, the use of planning processes. 2.2.2 Planning Processes The referral process allows senior agencies an opportunity to review urban development proposals before they occur, and allows consideration of multiple issues within the decision-making process. However, it is still reactive in comparison to planning exercises that occur earlier on in the land development process, and may not provide the most appropriate role for senior agencies. Planning is "decision-making-in-advance"; it links knowledge to action and informs societal guidance by government as well as more radical social transformations (Friedmann 1987: 38). Planning can be used to manage change through "applying comprehensive and coordinate planning approaches to area development (e.g., watershed development, rural development)" (Friedmann 1987: 28). Planning processes operate at a broader level than site-by-site permitting and referral processes, and use agency mandates and other stakeholder goals to direct future actions. Many processes in BC have focused on broad levels of planning that do not specifically address urban stream protection but deal with aquatic resource issues more broadly. These planning processes are often interagency, spatial planning processes, where land is designated for different uses within an area by multiple actors involved in decision making and management. They have evolved to: 30 • respond to increasing and diversifying demands on resource use, and create processes to reduce conflicts (as discussed in Dorcey 1986); • decrease the fragmentation of government and enable integration of the multiple issues related to land and aquatic resources management; • achieve more proactive protection, which is not possible using referral processes and/or legislation in isolation; and • reduce administrative complexity and use limited resources more effectively by coordinating activities and following a plan of action. Environmental planning processes in BC have existed in various forms for various functions, often increasing in prominence under supportive political or economic environments. In the 1970s and early 1980s, a number of watershed planning processes were begun to integrate multiple uses. The Canada Water Act was enacted in 1970 to support federal involvement in multidisciplinary river basin planning, and the Okanagan Basin Study was initiated under this Act. Together, provincial and federal agencies conducted water research and inventories, formulated comprehensive plans, and implemented projects. However, these planning efforts were too large, administratively complex, and lengthy, and were not providing concrete solutions to aquatic resource problems (O'Riordan 1981, Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). In 1971, the Environment and Land Use Committee (ELUC) was formed and included the provincial ministers from all departments related to resource use. It was designed to address the multiple issues and conflicts associated with increased development activities (Dorcey 1987). In the mid-1970s, the province began developing strategic provincial plans to identify priorities in over 40 watershed planning units in BC. These plans were designed to be as comprehensive as the federal-provincial river basin initiatives, but more suitable for implementation by using existing information to guide specific management actions at the 31 operational level (O'Riordan 1981). The Environment Management Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.118) provided BCE with the general authority to initiate these plans (H.I. Rueggeberg and Associates 1993). At the same time, Resource Management Regions were being discussed as a method of reorganizing government. These regions would coordinate and integrate responsibilities and administrative processes of resource agencies (Dorcey 1987). These initiatives eventually succumbed to the economic downturn of the early 1980s. Comprehensive strategic plans were never prepared and reorganization took the form of the regionalization of BCE's operations, which involved little integration with other interests (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991). Most provincial planning processes have been initiated for Crown lands, have focused on land-based activities, and have treated aquatic resources as a secondary issue. Historically, planning focused on forest resources and was limited to intensive forest development plans within timber supply areas and tree farm license areas that allowed little consideration of other values and limited public involvement (Wilson 1995). Forestry use, management, and development plans were the first type of proposals passed through a referral process to ensure fisheries issues were addressed (Dorcey 1986). Since the late 1980s, Crown land use planning has tried to incorporate local issues and integrate other resource concerns. In this vein, the Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) was established in July 1992 under the Commissioner on Resources and Environment Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.59) as an independent provincial agency charged with designing strategies for land use planning on public lands in BC (CORE 1993). CORE led to the establishment in 1994 of the BC Land Use Coordination Office (LUCO), a single window for interagency land use planning (CORE 1994b). LUCO is the latest adaptation of the original role played two decades earlier by the ELUC. Regional land use planning processes were initiated by CORE for Vancouver Island, 32 Cariboo-Chilcotin, and Kootenay/Boundary. These plans identified broad categories of land use (e.g., protected, special management, integrated, and intensive resource management areas) that would be operationalized by local levels of planning (CORE 1993). But CORE regional land use plans were found to be too large and complex; since 1994, provincial efforts have focused on the development of Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) for the rest of BC (Peebles 1997). LRMPs are interagency resource planning initiatives that focus on smaller geographic areas, are able to be more community based (through involvement of Community Resource Boards), and provide direction to lower-level plans (IRPC 1993). Issues related to aquatic and fisheries resources are one input into LRMPs, which are prepared by a multiagency panel. If local governments participate in the LRMP process, the resulting plan may provide them with a context for amending OCPs and bylaws and managing local land use (IRPC 1993). Under the Forest Practices Code Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.159) and regulations, LRMPs can be used to guide forestry activities if they are incorporated within the forest planning framework as higher level plans. The FPC also recognizes other forest management plans, including resource management zone plans, Landscape Unit Management Plans, Sensitive Areas Plans, and plans for recreation sites and trails. A few Crown land use planning processes focus more on the protection and management of aquatic resources. Since 1980, watersheds that supply community water and include Crown lands have been designated and regulated as community watersheds (H.I. Rueggeberg and Associates 1993). In 1984, procedures were developed for completing Integrated Watershed Management Plans (IWMPs) in community watersheds. IWMPs are the joint responsibility of BCE and BC Ministry of Forests (MOF), involve other agencies and users in plan development, and address various resource use issues (e.g., forestry, rangeland, mining, recreation). Upon completion of an IWMP, all resource development proposals within the plan area must conform 33 to it; where no IWMP is in place, referral processes are used to solicit agency input. IWMPs must attempt to coordinate with private land activities. A guidebook for activities in community watersheds is included under the Forest Practices Code (BC MOF 1996). On Vancouver Island, many community watersheds are within private lands; as a result, alternative watershed planning processes have been developed, including water allocation plans and water management plans (BC MELP 1993b, H.I. Rueggeberg and Associates 1993). These watershed plans are initiated by BCE water management and focus on water supply, existing demand, and future uses (including broad consideration of groundwater). BCE Vancouver Island Region is subdividing its jurisdictions into watersheds and preparing water allocation plans for each area to eliminate the need for referrals, make water supply information available to various users, and improve the consistency of decision making (Braybrook et al. 1995, Riddell and Bryden, 1996). Fish habitat information is included in water allocation plans for major rivers. Applications for water licenses in areas covered by water allocation plans are usually not referred to other agencies as long as the plan is followed. Water management plans are prepared by stakeholders for specific streams or rivers where there are competing uses and address a broader range of water and upland resource issues (BC MEP 1988). They have been used to guide decision making at a broad level and provide a forum for discussing multiple uses. At an even more site and use-specific scale, Water Use Plans are being initiated for BC Hydro facilities on certain rivers to define the operational constraints for individual facilities through consideration of other water uses (BC MELP 1996). The 1990s has marked a return to large-scale planning, not only with the development of CORE regional land use plans but also with the initiation of bioregional programs like the Georgia Basin Initiative, Fraser Basin Management Board, and Fraser River Action Plan 34 (FRAP). Spatial planning is not part of these efforts; rather, they are designed to plan management activities within these watershed or ecosystem units and create linkages between multiple decision makers involved in land and aquatic resource management. These programs are driven by the need to address multiple uses, concerns, values, and conflicts related to resource use on a broad scale. FREMP is an example of how modified referral processes (i.e., the project review process) can be complemented by better linkages to planning processes. FREMP is one of the most long-term and comprehensive planning processes initiated within an urban area in BC to manage aquatic resources. The FREMP area designation process has made efforts to plan and prioritize foreshore use proactively and reduce uncertainty in foreshore development (FREMP 1991). Under this process, foreshore and habitat maps were developed that identified proposed uses of the estuary based on natural features and classified existing foreshore habitat according to productivity (FRES 1982). Area designations along the estuary were intended to be used as a plan for future activities along the foreshore and in upland areas. They were used in developing agreements with municipalities to finalize the designated uses of the foreshore and adjacent upland, and ensure upland zoning, foreshore habitat conditions, and designated uses supported each other (FREMP 1994). To date, agreements have been reached with Surrey, White Rock, Richmond, and Burnaby, and efforts are underway to finalize agreements with Delta, New Westminster, and Vancouver. Estuary development in these municipalities must be consistent with the designated uses identified by this process, but can be implemented using different means (e.g., appending maps to OCPs, revising bylaws, etc.). These agreements have created linkages between FREMP and local government. 35 Provincial planning efforts in BC have often been lengthy and costly, only to end up with a plan that is difficult to operationalize and implement. CORE identified the following problems with existing planning processes (from CORE 1994a, 1994b): • too much centralization; • duplication and overlapping jurisdictions; • little coordination and integration of the parts of the system; • unclear and inconsistent processes; • too much reliance on an inadequate referral system; • inefficient use of time and resources; and • inconsistent guiding policies and definition of provincial interest. In addition to these problems, urban watersheds and streams are not considered within most provincial planning processes because these plans are often focused on Crown land, and because local governments are considered to be responsible for activities on private lands. CORE identified the importance of planning for private land uses as well as Crown land uses, and also recognized how local and operational planning linked to other planning processes. The planning hierarchy developed by CORE acknowledged the difficulty of implementing broad plans and objectives and identified local tiers of planning for achieving action (Figure 2.2). Planning by local governments is one of the few planning exercises that is regularly implemented through regulations (Cote 1993). To support local planning within this hierarchy, certain needs were identified (CORE 1994a): • interagency protocol agreements to define relationships; • technical planning committees to link resource and settlement plans; • provincial policies to govern urban development; • increased role of local governments in resource (i.e., provincial) planning; 36 • linked referral processes to facilitate coordination; • shared information systems to enhance efficiency and timeliness; • legal and informal procedures to encourage partnerships (between local, provincial and federal government); and • restoration of authority to regional districts to undertake regional planning for urban growth management (to ensure coordination among municipalities). The limitations of planning processes and recommendations for improvements in local tiers of planning point the way towards the next evolution in urban stream management, the use of locally-based processes. Crown Land Private Land Legislation Regulations Policies Land & Resource Management Plans - PROVINCIAL-STRATEGIC Local Resource Use Plans Integrated Watershed - LOCAL -Management Plans Forest Development Plans - OPERATIONAL Access Plans Legislation Regulations Policies Growth Strategies Regional OCPs Local OCPs Neighbourhood Plans Zoning Bylaws Figure 2.2 A proposed land use planning hierarchy for BC (based on CORE 1994a). 37 2.2.3 Local Processes Referral and planning processes have some limitations as effective mechanisms for urban stream management; habitat is still lost as a result of urban development, fisheries resources are declining, and frustrations with the governance structure remain. As a result, new processes for protecting and managing urban streams at the local level have evolved in BC, many of which have included elements of modified referral processes and planning exercises. A key component of many local urban stream management programs is the role of local government. Internationally, the importance of local government in achieving sustainability was recognized in "Agenda 21", the 1992 Earth Summit's blueprint for action (Davis 1992). "Agenda 21" discussed the actions to be taken by local authorities, both independently and as a level of government, in order to achieve sustainability locally and globally. The importance of "Agenda 21" was reaffirmed at the "Rio+5" follow-up meeting to the Earth Summit. Specifically noted were the efforts of local organizations in working towards sustainability through implementation of local programs, and the importance of continuing these efforts (UN DPCSD 1997). In BC, both the federal and provincial governments are shifting towards local stream management. For example, BCE initiated the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) to support community stream stewardship groups and local governments. USHP funding has helped hire environmental coordinators for some local governments (Province of BC 1995). In 1995, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which represents local governments, signed a protocol with BCE and BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) for sharing environmental responsibility, and identified guiding principles to harmonize environmental decision making (BC MELP et al. 1994). Within DFO, recent emphasis has been on developing different types of partnerships and associations with community watershed groups to ensure fisheries issues are considered in local land-based activities; for example, DFO has participated in a number of demonstration watersheds, local roundtables, and watershed councils under FRAP (deShield 38 and Romaine 1997). Some of these initiatives are citizen based while others more directly involve local government; some are initiated by government and others at the grassroots level. Urban stream management by local government in BC appears to have evolved from all levels of government and the public in an effort to: • incorporate urban streams, particularly small tributaries often excluded from other planning processes, into aquatic resources planning and management; • decrease government fragmentation and administrative complexity by integrating local issues within local government; • achieve proactive protection by incorporating stream issues within a planning scale that facilitates implementation; • use limited resources more effectively; and • improve and facilitate public involvement. The federal-provincial Stream Stewardship initiative, begun in 1994 by DFO, BCE, and BC MMA, has provided direction in local urban stream management to many stakeholders. Stream Stewardship: a guide for planners and developers (DFO et al. 1994; hereafter referred to as the Stream Stewardship Guide) was developed, and training, conference, and workshop events were held. A series of guides has been developed under Stream Stewardship (e.g., Community Stewardship [CWS et al. 1995], Community Greenways [Lanarc Consultants 1995], Stewardship Bylaws [Lanarc Consultants 1996]), and it has prompted various activities within other sectors (e.g., the Urban Development Institute's Stream Stewardship Committee, community stream stewardship groups). Stream Stewardship was initiated by senior government agencies in an attempt to raise the awareness of local governments and developers about the impacts to fisheries resources from urban development. It advocates a 39 proactive and cooperative approach to protect streams and avoid the cumulative impacts of urban development. The guide identifies the tools and incentives that can be used to protect streams. For example, it identifies the land use bylaws that can be used by local governments to avoid stream impacts, the financial incentives to developers of including protected streams in their projects, and the role of the public in inventory, monitoring, and political pressure (DFO et al. 1994). The guide identifies a more action-oriented role for local governments, with advisory and review capacity provided by senior agencies at every stage. A successful combination of these roles depends on communication between local and senior governments. The Stream Stewardship Guide emphasizes that stream protection measures should be included at all stages of the development process using local government land use planning tools (DFO et al. 1994); for example: • stream environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) can be identified within OCPs as DPAs; • zoning bylaws can require setbacks from streams for adjacent properties; • subdivision projects within ESAs can incorporate conservation covenants to protect riparian zones; • approvals for development projects within DPAs can require an environmental assessment before development begins; • approvals for development projects that could affect aquatic habitat can be referred to senior governments; and • construction can be monitored by an environmental professional. Many local governments have designated ESAs within their community, including stream and riparian corridors; for example, ESAs have been identified in the Comox Valley (DFO et al. 1995), Langley (Cook et al. 1993), and Coquitlam (Berris 1995). Because of a lack of 40 information and expertise at the local level, many ESA mapping programs have been done in partnership with senior agencies or using private contractors, and have been done to different levels of accuracy. Developers and landowners are often concerned about uncertainty in the development process; development proposals may only be reviewed for stream protection issues in the final stages of referral processes, causing delays and extra effort. If developers are more aware of stream presence, they will be able to plan developments around site conditions. Protection is easier if inventory and designation work is done before a development proposal is presented (Eagles 1984). Identifying ESAs that require protection before they are threatened by development is a proactive management tool and enables local governments to manage land use within a larger, planned framework instead of addressing stream protection on a site-by-site basis. Even approximately mapped ESAs facilitate protection by identifying areas where special zoning bylaws could be designated (e.g., DPAs), where parks could be located, or where land could be purchased. A network of ESAs can be protected as a greenway that links natural areas within a land use planning framework (Lanarc Consultants 1995). But a common problem with these local programs has been incorporating this information into an effective planning and management system (e.g., OCP and bylaws). Zoning bylaws can be used to protect streams using existing tools in the Municipal Act (as discussed in Section 2.1.3). They operationalize protective policies and ESAs identified in the OCP, including DPAs. The District of North Vancouver has developed an environmental protection bylaw that incorporates protection of soils, trees, aquatic areas, and steep slopes (Dovetail 1996). The Land Development Guidelines and provincial water quality criteria were used for the aquatic areas component, which applies to properties adjacent to streams or wetlands. As part of the Stream Stewardship series, a guidebook was developed that provides a template for developing various different bylaws to protect streams, based in part on 41 experiences in the District of North Vancouver (Lanarc Consultants 1996). Recent amendments to the Municipal Act will provide additional powers to local governments for protecting riparian areas (BC MMA 1998). Like most of the provisions in the Act, the amendments are enabling and do not require local government to use new environmental protection powers. Changes further clarify that OCPs and DPAs can address environmental protection issues. New development permit powers allow local government to require landowners to protect specific natural features, dedicate a natural watercourse, construct stream protection works, and post development security bonds. Stormwater management capabilities are expanded by allowing local governments to limit the amount of impervious surfaces in developments. Property tax exemptions are provided for landowners who dedicate riparian land using a conservation covenant. The Land Development Guidelines are used to protect streams once development begins, and identify measures to avoid impacts to fish and fish habitat during and after construction (Chilibeck et al. 1992). These guidelines were intended to be used at the local level and reduce the referral workload of senior agencies by ensuring developers considered protective measures before submitting proposals for review. The guidelines recommend minimum stream setbacks and a series of measures for avoiding soil erosion, stormwater, and other impacts of urban development. The Land Development Guidelines have no legal basis and are not official regulations under the Fisheries Act. But landowners who did not follow the guidelines have been prosecuted because they did not exert due diligence in avoiding damage to fish and fish habitat (Huestis 1993). The guidelines are criticized as being incomplete and only capable of addressing stream protection issues on a site-by-site basis. They are often difficult to apply in urban areas where stream setbacks are already determined by existing development. Like the use of referral processes, application of the guidelines does not protect streams as proactively 42 as planning processes. These guidelines could be incorporated as conditions of development into local government bylaws to facilitate their enforcement (Dovetail 1996). More recent technical information on riparian protection in urban streams was recently developed by DFO (Millar et al. 1997), but are not as widely used as the Land Development Guidelines. The approach promoted by the Stream Stewardship Guide involves a high degree of action by local governments supported by a high level of communication with senior agencies. Although local government plays a greater role in urban stream management under this initiative, there remains a strong role for senior agencies. In particular, the tools promoted under Stream Stewardship are voluntary, and senior agencies still need to monitor local governments to ensure consistent and improved protection. Stream Stewardship also emphasizes the use of referral processes and could inadvertently place an even greater demand on the already limited resources of senior agencies. Some local areas, including Surrey and North Vancouver, have adopted the use of environmental advisory committees to help integrate all of the interests involved. The Stream Stewardship Guide recognizes the need to streamline stewardship through government coordination, but does not provide recommendations for achieving this. Initiatives at the regional level may provide a link between senior government habitat protection policies and local government programs to ensure more consistent stream protection. Regional-scale planning began in the 1940s with the creation of the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board. This special purpose body provided a forum for land use planning across municipal jurisdictions (Crossley 1989, Tindal and Tindal 1995), and addressed some aquatic resource issues (e.g., restrictions on floodplain development [Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991]). Regional districts were designated across BC in 1965. Originally not assigned specific 43 responsibilities, they still operate under a flexible structure although certain regional district responsibilities have become mandatory (Tindal and Tindal 1995). At one time, these mandatory responsibilities included the preparation of an official regional plan, following the example set by the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board. These plans were prepared by regional districts, and municipalities were required to follow them (BC MMA 1995). In 1983, the provincial government revoked this responsibility because of its hierarchical nature and perceived overadministration, although regional districts and municipalities could voluntarily prepare regional plans (Tindal and Tindal 1995). The 1995 growth strategies amendments to the Municipal Act reintroduced regional planning to BC. Comprehensive regional growth strategies are mandated under this legislation to address long-term planning issues that extend beyond the borders of individual municipalities and rural areas, and coordinate local planning activities (BC MMA 1995). They are cooperatively prepared by regional districts and municipalities, and are more locally-based than other provincial planning processes. Growth strategies are voluntary, although the province can require local areas to prepare them if necessary. Regional growth strategies should work towards goals such as the protection of groundwater and surface water quality and quantity and ESAs. Once strategies are adopted, all regional district bylaws must conform to them, and their relationship to municipal OCPs needs to be stated. Regional planning can provide a link between processes and initiatives at the local and provincial level (CORE 1995), although the strength of this link would depend on political will. It could potentially enable coordination amongst local urban stream management programs. However, it is still a broad level of planning that depends on operational land use plans. Many local governments have initiated Liquid Waste Management Plans (LWMP) under the Waste Management Act to replace their waste discharge permits (BC MELP 1992). Many of 44 these plans are being prepared voluntarily by regional districts, although BCE can also require preparation of LWMPs. As part of the planning process, the capacity of water bodies to accept waste is reviewed. Stormwater management is also addressed within LWMPs and this has provided new opportunities for local urban stream management. For example, the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District initiated a multistakeholder LWMP task group to develop a management plan for the Brunette River basin in Burnaby to integrate various watershed issues (City of Burnaby et al. 1996). New processes for protecting streams from urban development are being driven by initiatives at the local level, particularly within local government. When local tools are used together, they strengthen each other. For example, ESA designation programs are strengthened when they are combined with protective OCP policies and bylaws that provide an operational framework. The Land Development Guidelines are strengthened when they are combined with ESA maps and protective OCP policies that provide a proactive and holistic framework. There has been resistance to this shift by some local governments and developer groups. Locally-based processes for urban stream protection depend on the initiative and commitment of local governments; none of these processes are required. 2.3 Towards Decentralized Management As weaknesses in the governance structure become apparent, governments come under pressure to unify their policies and actions (Carley and Christie 1993). As resource levels decrease, governments come under pressure to improve effectiveness and decrease workload. Both push management processes to evolve. Referral processes evolved to address the multiple interests of different agencies in decision making, but they only address urban development issues on a site-by-site basis, are initiated late in the development review 45 process, and have become less effective with decreased senior agency resources. Provincial planning processes evolved to address multidisciplinary issues in a more proactive manner that is often watershed based, but they focus on resource or Crown land activities and often do not link urban areas into their framework. Local governments have acted in isolation and ignored aquatic resource issues in their jurisdictional corner of the watershed; however, they are beginning to assume more responsibility for urban streams. In the past, senior government responsibility for fisheries and aquatic resources and local government responsibility for private land use has meant that stream protection was not integrated with urban development. But as the evolution moves towards local processes and initiatives like Stream Stewardship, the necessary linkages for urban stream protection are beginning to be made. Reforms to improve institutional structures often decentralize government responsibilities and shift decision making to the local level (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). Different types and degrees of decentralization exist; the devolution of responsibilities for aquatic resource management from senior to local levels of government is one strategy for improving efficiency and ensuring community ideals are more closely followed (Dorcey 1986, 1991). In the past, this decentralization has involved strategies like the regionalization of senior agency offices and the use of special purpose organizations at the local level (Dorcey 1991, O'Riordan 1981). The Stream Stewardship Guide encourages more responsibility for stream protection by local governments, emphasizing an active role at this level of government and an advisory role at senior levels (DFO et al. 1994). Urban stream protection is a problem that can be addressed at a local scale. Local governments have the most direct authority over private land, are responsible for managing the development process, and are well positioned for integrating other issues into this process. They can use development control tools to avoid the activities that cause impacts to streams. Shifting more responsibility and appropriate authority for urban 46 stream protection to local governments means that decisions are being made at a more appropriate level of government. But the limitations of local government must be recognized. Local governments may be limited by "Type I" (i.e., social and economic) constraints and/or "Type II" (i.e., political) constraints (Goldsmith 1990, Keating and Mehrhoff 1992). Type I constraints result from factors such as the limited tax base available to local government and the common imposition of a dominant interest (i.e., developers) in decision making. Local governments may not want to assume additional responsibilities that may stretch already limited resources, affect the provision of more traditional services, and require an increase in property taxes (Norton 1994a). Because development creates more financial resources through property taxes and more community amenities, urban development can be a growth business for some local governments (Keating and Mehrhoff 1994, Norton 1994b). The development industry has historically been linked to local politics. Stream protection efforts can decrease development rates as land becomes limited and prices increase (Clark 1994); thus, the political commitment of local governments to stream protection can vary. For example, recent changes in municipal politics in Langley, BC also changed the local government's commitment to stream protection. Type II constraints result from factors such as the constitutional position of local governments and the powers they have been delegated, how their finances are controlled, and how they function and are perceived to function by other levels of government (Goldsmith 1990, Pierre 1990). Local governments are perceived as primarily service providers, and their powers have been limited in the past by judicial interpretation (Clark 1994). They can not operate on budget deficits (Quadra 1995). Because local powers are defined by the province, powers not explicitly included in the Municipal Act can be questioned. Local governments suffer from low voter turnout in many areas (Tindal and Tindal 1995). Some local governments are also limited by 47 jurisdictional fragmentation and small political boundaries; most local boundaries do not encompass entire watersheds. Thus, urban stream management by local governments should not be excluded from the watershed-level management processes of senior government. Despite these limitations, devolving some decision-making authority can provide a healthy division of power within government (Goldsmith 1990). The shift towards bottom-up decision making is based on the belief that the community affected by resource management decisions should be involved in decision making (Furuseth and Cocklin 1995). Local government is the closest level of government to the community and can offer a forum for bottom-up decision making. At the local level, the problems are place specific, concerns can be articulated, and the public is better able to understand the issues and the effect their involvement can have (Clarke and Stewart 1991, Goldsmith 1990, Keating and Mehrhoff 1992). Local governments have a broader mandate than senior environmental agencies, and in some cases may be more balanced in their views (Quadra 1995). When senior control limits local control, local governments are less likely to proactively assume responsibilities such as stream protection. The autonomy provided by decentralized management can increase political will and make them more responsive and accountable to the community electorate (Goldsmith 1990). A more political and proactive local government could increase community interest and voter turnout, supporting greater public involvement and achieving the benefits of decentralized management. Evidence presented in this chapter clearly shows some movement of urban stream management towards locally-based processes to address limitations in existing governance structures and administrative processes. More responsibility will be decentralized to local government in the future; thus, local urban stream management programs need to follow 48 certain directions in order to address existing limitations and strengthen decentralized management. 49 3. New Directions for Urban Stream Management Strategies in aquatic resource management have shifted towards more proactive policies that are both comprehensive (i.e., integrating land and aquatic environments) and precautionary (Dorcey 1991). Chapter 2 describes the governance structure in BC and its limitations in protecting urban streams, and shows the evolution of referral, planning, and local processes that have tried to address these limitations. New and existing programs continue to improve urban stream management. This chapter looks more broadly at this evolution to identify clear directions for urban stream management programs to follow as they continue to evolve at the local level. These directions should not be considered in isolation of each other, although for the sake of organization that is how they are presented in the following sections. They support each other and together improve integration of urban development and stream protection at the local level (Figure 3.1). A single protocol for urban stream management does not emerge; rather, new directions provide flexible alternatives to be explored. Different programs will follow these new directions to different degrees, in different settings, producing different results. Figure 3.1 New directions in urban stream management. 50 New directions for urban stream management programs focus on ongoing changes to the administrative component of the governance structure. Also important in improving urban stream management are the legislative, judicial, and market components. A common limitation of government policy and action studies is their focus on only one component of the governance structure, often ignoring their interrelatedness (Dorcey 1991). However, this thesis focuses on the administrative component of government. Although existing legislation is the root of many problems in urban stream protection, most referral and planning processes have been initiated by the administrative component to work around existing legislation. Locally-based processes are also initiated at this level (or by the community) because this is where the most tangible results can be observed. More appropriate legislation (e.g., the new Fish Protection Act) and market mechanisms (i.e., potential tax incentives for riparian protection) to improve urban stream protection are being developed, but should be part of a different analysis. 3.1 Cooperative Strategies Because of the jurisdictional constraints on local government and the limitations associated with decentralized management (Section 2.3), senior governments still need to be involved in urban stream management to achieve integration between levels of government and ensure stream protection (Doering et al. 1991). Recent initiatives clearly show that senior governments are moving towards more cooperative approaches and consensual decision making that are linked to greater empowerment of local government (Dorcey 1991, May 1995). Although the effects of recent initiatives may not be fully understood, their existence shows a changing direction towards cooperation. For example, UBCM's protocol with the provincial government for sharing environmental responsibility reflects an emphasis on cooperation between 51 government levels^ CORE also promoted the use of partnership approaches for improving planning processes (CORE 1995). Various stakeholders play a role in managing streams and need opportunities to integrate their responsibilities and concerns. Cooperative approaches allow the integration of top-down policies with bottom-up issues; they can capitalize on what different levels of government bring to the process, as well as community groups and other stakeholders. For example, the Langley Environmental Partnership Society involves federal, provincial, and local government, farmers, and educational institutions, is driven by community groups, and has implemented multiple education and stream restoration programs (deShield and Romaine 1997). A parallel group, the Salmon River Watershed Management Partnership, involves mostly senior and local governments who developed a watershed management plan in Langley, BC. Community groups can also partner with government agencies to undertake environmental monitoring activities (Section 3.4). Cooperation is also promoted with industry instead of costly over-regulation; the Stream Stewardship Guide was designed to provide local governments and developers with information that would avoid the need for senior agency regulation and enforcement of development projects (DFO et al. 1994). Developers and landowners also have a certain "jurisdiction" over their property that should be considered in cooperative management. Involving landowners will raise their awareness and may make them more likely to consider urban stream protection (Dovetail 1994). Most models advocating decentralized management recognize that local governments must be bounded by a supervisory authority at a senior level to achieve a degree of unity among the parts of the governance structure (Fox 1991, Norton 1994b). Local boundaries rarely conform to the natural boundaries of watersheds. Because streams provide a common property (public) resource that extends outside the boundaries of most local governments (e.g., fisheries resources), development decisions made by one local government can cause externalities that 52 affect public resources or other communities. Regional, provincial, and national interests may not always be served by local government actions. These jurisdictional constraints limit local government's role in managing aquatic resources, and there remains a need for senior government involvement. Senior level policies working in cooperation with local tools can help ensure that consistent management actions are taken along a stream corridor and within watersheds (Doering et al. 1991). Senior government's proprietary and legislative powers over natural resources may bring into question the validity of strong environmental bylaws at the local level (Dovetail 1996); local processes can be legitimized if some sort of senior role is included through cooperative strategies. Senior governments also have an important role to play in providing support to urban stream management programs. Local governments often have limited resources and lack the necessary information, skills, and expertise for stream management that are available within senior agencies (Section 3.5.1). Information, human, and financial support improves the capacity of local government to assume more responsibility for urban stream management, which in turn enhances their willingness to be involved and take initiative (May 1995). Thus, cooperative strategies encourage the local government "buy-in" that is necessary for successful implementation. Cooperative strategies provide opportunities for partners to pool their knowledge and skills (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). When information is shared between local and senior governments, or fisheries and water agencies, the gaps created by the fragmented governance structure begin to close. This integration supports better urban stream protection. Government agencies are not the only sources of information; community groups should also be encouraged to share local knowledge and be used as a resource for planning and management initiatives (CORE 1994a). Multiple agencies, community groups, or research programs may be collecting the same information but are unaware of their overlap. 53 Cooperating can help avoid this duplication of effort and use limited resources more effectively (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). Using new proactive tools for urban stream protection (Section 3.5) requires sharing technical information with local governments. For example, adoption of a new zoning bylaw to restrict development around streams will be less effective if the local government does not have accurate stream information available. And if the stream information is not in a useful format, local governments will not use it. If relevant information is made more available by senior levels of government, it will allow local governments to make more informed and consistent choices (Jennings and Reganold 1989). Discrepancies between data sources may cause problems in the initial stages of data sharing because each agency or group will likely have a different format for storing information, but the use of computers, databases, and geographic information systems can facilitate this sharing of information with appropriate training. Cooperative strategies can be limited by an unwillingness of senior partners to limit their autonomy, a lack of short-term economic incentives, and a lack of long-term legal enforceability (Kennett 1990). It may be difficult to initiate cooperation where there is a history of mistrust and differing objectives between partners (May 1995). Senior agencies can be involved in cooperative strategies for stream management to varying degrees, and are questioning what their level of involvement should be in the future (Peebles 1997). Locally-based processes are considered to be more effective when senior governments act as referees of fairness rather than preempting or overriding local concerns (Andrews and Pierson 1985). However, it is a balancing act for senior governments, who must ensure their mandate is achieved (which may conflict with local desires), avoid intruding into local affairs and sabotaging future benefits of cooperation, and ensure resources are used wisely. Partnerships 54 may involve an initially large time investment that also needs to be considered in determining the level of involvement of any partner (Furlong 1997). Another danger of decentralized management is that responsibilities may be downloaded to local governments without the appropriate support and sharing of responsibilities. Local governments often feel that senior agencies have the primary mandate and funding for aquatic and fisheries protection; thus, they may perceive decentralized urban stream management as downloading (Quadra 1995). Cooperative strategies help ensure support is available to local governments from various agencies and stakeholders, and strengthen decentralized management. Cooperation is a particularly critical direction for urban stream management. The integration of stream protection issues and urban development can be achieved locally, but it depends on the willingness of local governments to assume more responsibility for stream issues. This willingness may increase if senior government agencies are involved and are committed to supporting local government. 3.2 Coordination Referral processes for protecting urban streams have had limited success in part due to a lack of coordination and inconsistencies between the objectives and planning processes of senior and local governments (McPhee et al. 1993). Urban stream management programs operating at the local level within a cooperative framework will involve multiple agencies and actors with multiple mandates. The number of players will also increase as linkages are developed with other stakeholders (Section 3.3) and public involvement increases (Section 3.4). Coordination is needed to integrate urban stream management issues, help address the overlap and fragmentation that causes confusion, uncertainty and inconsistency, and conserve limited resources (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995, Willmann and Insull 1993). A 55 commitment for federal and provincial coordination on fisheries issues, including habitat, has been made in the Canada-BC Agreement on the Management of Pacific Salmon Fishery Issues (Independent Panel 1998). Successful cooperation depends on successful coordination of partner activities. In fact, they are dependent on each other; cooperative strategies facilitate coordination (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995), and improved coordination reinforces cooperation (deShield and Romaine 1997). Coordination is a broad goal that can be achieved by multiple methods. Urban stream management programs need to include clear processes for coordinating agency activities. Coordination can be improved by using a single-window approach for information and communication related to development proposals (Dovetail 1994). These types of methods are used in the FREMP project review process, where a central coordinating agency was created to facilitate decision making by the multiple agencies working in the estuary. The use of interagency technical committees in planning processes is recommended by CORE as another method of improving coordination. Some local governments have used environmental advisory committees to provide specific advice and help coordinate environmental issues; for example, Burnaby's Environment and Waste Management Committee, Delta's Environmental Advisory Committee, and Abbotsford's Stream Stewardship Committee (Dovetail 1996). These kinds of local committees facilitate a team approach that benefits from group decision making, cooperation as opposed to competition, and consensus rather than conflict (Magazine 1977). One of the criticisms of referral processes is that they do not give agencies an opportunity to discuss problems and identify solutions; multidisciplinary committees can provide this forum and coordinate actions. Joint agency environmental review committees, often including BCE, DFO, and local government, have been implemented in various areas throughout the lower Fraser Valley (Dovetail 1996). Some of these committees meet to review multiple referrals in 56 the morning and then visit sites in the afternoon. Communication, a key to coordination, can be improved by identifying contacts within agencies and local government to facilitate communication amongst cooperating partners (Dovetail 1994). Such contacts have been created in local governments by the hiring of environmental coordinators under the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (Province of BC 1995). Environmental coordinators can also act as a check and balance on environmental decision making within local government (Magazine 1977). For both advisory committee and coordinator roles, effectiveness has often been determined by the level of expertise and authority (Dovetail 1996). Improved coordination and communication are needed to tackle the complexity, inefficiency, and inconsistency of existing processes, and make them more transparent and consistent. Without specific methods to improve coordination, cooperative strategies involving multiple actors will have limited success. 3.3 Linkages Because of the fragmented roles and responsibilities of government, aquatic resources have been managed sectorally in BC by different government agencies often with a single resource focus (McPhee et al. 1993). Decision making needs to be integrated across resource and economic sectors, and scientific issues must be integrated with political and social issues (Dorcey 1991). Better integration will ensure causes and effects of activities are considered more holistically. A hierarchy for addressing different resource issues can be envisioned; for example, within urban areas, aquatic resource issues should be integrated with urban development issues, and within watersheds, management of urban areas should be integrated with management of resource-based areas. Within the current governance structure, such integration can only be achieved through processes designed to bring together all the agencies responsible for different resources or activities. There has been an ongoing shift towards intersectoral processes through the creation of more complex referral processes, task 57 forces, roundtables, and planning processes like LRMPs (McPhee et al. 1993). Management programs need to ensure that the right stakeholders are involved or linked to the program, so that all of the activities affecting urban streams can be integrated. Integrated processes have varying degrees of formality and permanency. Arrangements could range from a linked management approach, where agency functions remain unchanged but are bound by agreement to cooperate, to the creation of a new integrated agency (McPhee et al. 1993). Despite ambitious recommendations for delineating jurisdictions based on watershed boundaries or creating local resource authorities, reforming all government agencies to achieve integrated stream management would be a slow process that is unlikely to occur. Although local governments are often as fragmented as senior governments in their structure (Norton 1994a), it is a smaller scale of government that may be more amenable to reform. If some of the responsibility for urban stream management is devolved to local government, better integration through intersectoral linkages may be easier to achieve at this level (Cote 1993). Local governments also suffer from limited resources, but resources may be used more effectively within the less complex and fragmented processes made possible by decentralized and integrated urban stream management. Integrated arrangements strengthen urban stream management at the local level by making it more complete. FREMP is an integrated approach that includes senior fisheries and water resources agencies, harbour commissions, and local government. Stream Stewardship advocates decentralized and intersectoral management by integrating the aquatic resource management sector and its multiple senior agencies with the urban development sector and local government. The Salmon River Watershed Roundtable is a locally-based cooperative arrangement that has led a watershed management planning process in Salmon Arm, BC 58 (deShield and Romaine 1997). Multiple stakeholders are involved, including landowners, local government, and senior agencies, which has meant that the planning process was able to be more integrated. The plan is being operationalized as annual workplans. Just as the appropriate scale of management for urban streams can be achieved by decentralizing some responsibilities and processes, the appropriate scope of management can be achieved by broadening processes across various sectors. Linkages amongst different agencies, organizations, and individuals affecting urban streams can make this happen. 3.4 Public Involvement Public involvement in aquatic resource management strengthens government processes, and top-down approaches that ignore local communities are typically failures (Dixon and Easter 1986). Greater public participation is one of the institutional reforms commonly recommended in the sustainable development and aquatic resource management literature; management models need to include all stakeholders, not just scientists and politicians (Dorcey 1991). In many cases, increased involvement is being demanded by a more aware public (Dorcey et al. 1994). As urban stream management processes have evolved towards the local level, they have also begun to include greater public involvement. Public participation is identified by CORE as being the link in blending top-down policies with bottom-up considerations (CORE 1994b). Decentralized processes are considered a better scale for urban stream management because they are closer to the community where the benefits and costs of development are most directly felt. Low voter turnout in local areas may mean that local government is not representative of the entire community. On one hand, a local government may not be as protective of the environment as some groups within the 59 community (Doering et al. 1991). But some environmental NGOs may not support balanced decision-making processes. On the other hand, a local government may not meet the needs of more profit-motivated groups; involving the public in urban stream management programs may not always ensure better protection. Often the property rights mentality of landowners and developers limits the ability of local areas to improve environmental protection. There are other special interest groups besides environmental NGOs; for example, developer organizations, residents associations, and farmer groups may not support measures such as streamside setback protection. This has been observed most recently in the debates over proposed streamside directives under the Fish Protection Act 3. Public involvement in locally-based processes allows these alternate opinions to be considered. With increased public involvement in decision making and management, a community may perceive a local program to be more legitimate and will be more supportive of decisions (Dorcey et al. 1994). One of the criticisms of the urban development process administered by local government is that there is little opportunity for proactive public involvement; there are concerns that these opportunities are even more limited with a single window of review (Dovetail 1996). Increased involvement in local urban stream management programs provides the public with an opportunity to affect decision making. A public with greater respect and ownership over an urban stream management program may also better protect their urban streams (Willmann and Insull 1993). This is especially important for urban stream management programs as it is the public that is causing many of the impacts to streams on their own properties. Ultimately, the community electorate can directly affect implementation of local urban stream management programs by voting for change if they do not support such initiatives. 3 Gerry Bellet, "Fish Laws Threaten Farms, Critics Say", Vancouver Sun, 16 March 1998. 60 Degrees of public involvement range from informing the public, to gathering information, to testing ideas and seeking advice (Dorcey et al. 1994). Each model involves different levels of commitment, interaction, expectations, and influence. Some of these models will suit a program better than others. Community resource boards are being directly involved in planning processes such as LRMPs, and in some areas, the community is taking a lead in watershed management by creating local round tables that bring together various individuals and interests. The Burnaby Lake System Project is working to restore the Brunette River watershed by rallying the efforts of community groups, rod and gun clubs, schools, businesses, and government (BCIT 1994). Although public involvement processes can place a greater demand on resources by adding more voices to the decision-making process, community groups can act as information and human resources. For example, community groups can help collect stream data, as promoted in Stream Stewardship (CWS et al. 1995). Streamkeepers groups are active throughout the province and collect local information on streams that can be used by government. Community groups and/or educated public can also fill an informal monitoring role by acting as "watchdogs" (Dovetail 1996). Increased public involvement is supported by other new directions in urban stream management models. Cooperative strategies and partnerships encourage a broader range of interests to become involved in urban stream management, including the public (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). More public involvement can also facilitate public education and improved urban stream protection (Section 3.5.1). 3.5 Use of Proactive Tools Cooperation, coordination, creating linkages, and involving the public are directions that relate to the processes adopted by local urban stream management programs. Programs also need 61 to use tools that will be suitable and effective for urban stream protection. Local programs will be most effective if they protect streams before development occurs in a holistic way that is integrated within a watershed context. Protection is less costly than restoration, as proven by the money spent on restoring streams impacted by forestry activities under the provincial Watershed Restoration Program in recent years (e.g., $517 million in expenditures for Forest Renewal BC in 1998/99 [FRBC 1998]). Two tools of local management processes are key to achieving proactive protection of urban streams: • education; and • land use planning and regulation. 3.5.1 Education Education is a critical direction for management programs because stream impacts from urban development often originate from individual actions on private land. Because most stream protection measures are voluntary, having educated landowners will improve the likelihood that these measures will be implemented. Private property rights have embedded a strong sense of ownership in property owners, and the belief that they have complete rights over their land, regardless of impacts to other properties and public resources. Individual property owners are generally unaware of the cumulative impacts of their incremental activities. Localized impacts to streams within a community can not be heavily monitored or enforced because of the limited resources available to all governments. Thus, public education must be included in urban stream management programs to reduce stream impacts at the source. The development industry (e.g., architects, developers, contractors, builders, etc.) also needs to be educated on urban stream protection issues; ideally, a more educated and responsible industry will require less regulation and enforcement. Stream Stewardship educates developers on the benefits (and costs) of protecting streams in a development project (DFO et al. 1994). Sharing 62 information on stream presence with landowners not only educates but also helps address their concerns about uncertainty in the development process, and helps them proactively plan their projects (Dovetail 1994). The proximity of local government to the community and its direct responsibility over the land development process make it well suited for implementing urban stream protection educational programs. Local environmental NGOs also conduct education programs within communities. The Streamkeepers's Handbook identifies a variety of methods to educate the community, including the use of road signs, brochures and newsletters, community meetings, public displays, media productions, and news media (Munro and Taccogna 1995). Stream Stewardship has relied on guidebooks and workshops to educate local governments and developers. Programs like the Land for Nature initiative by the BC Federation of Naturalists educates landowners but also recognizes their rights and builds trust (Dovetail 1996). Cross-disciplinary education is critical to urban stream management programs to help overcome the problems of a fragmented governance structure and improve understanding amongst stakeholders. Each level and agency of government needs to develop an appreciation for the size, scope, and range of the issues they each address. Urban stream management programs need to allow interchange and education between participants and other stakeholders. Cooperative processes that create linkages encourage mutual learning between government levels and agencies (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). This linkage and learning can help agencies identify solutions such as creative urban designs and conservation methods. Better educated agencies feed back into the process by being better able to cooperate and coordinate their activities. Local governments may be limited by their lack of expertise and capacity. Decentralized management will require training of local 63 governments to improve implementation of urban stream management programs (deShield and Romaine 1997, Magazine 1977). With greater knowledge and responsibility, local government may assume more ownership and concern for stream issues. 3.5.2 Local Land Use Planning and Regulation Legislation used for stream protection and referral processes are limited in their ability to proactively protect streams and avoid cumulative impacts. Processes have moved away from strict reliance on these tools towards more proactive planning processes (Arduino 1994, Dorcey 1991). Local government control over urban development through the Municipal Act facilitates proactive protection (Doering et al. 1991). Urban stream management programs need to use the planning and regulatory tools available through this legislation to avoid the impacts of urban development activities. Proactive protection controls the cause (i.e., urban development) to avoid the effects (i.e., impacts to streams), rather than only mitigating the effects. Local governments have authority over urban development from the earliest stages of community planning to the later stages of permitting activities; this authority is the main reason for shifting towards more decentralized urban stream management. Incorporating stream information throughout the development process can: (1) ensure stream protection is considered earlier on in the urban development process, and (2) use land use and development controls to achieve protection instead of weak prescriptive measures recommended to mitigate the effects of an already approved project. Local community planning (e.g., OCPs, regional growth strategies, neighbourhood plans, etc.) directs the amount and pattern of development. If stream protection is considered in this stage, many of the cumulative impacts of incremental development can be avoided by planning development away from streams and other ESAs using policy statements and land use 64 designations. In order to do this, the right technical and local information needs to be available and incorporated into the local planning framework, which depends on cooperative arrangements and linkages with other agencies and stakeholders. By avoiding development near sensitive areas, there will be less reliance on the referral process and the complexity of the development process will be reduced. Opportunities for better design solutions can also be considered at the planning stage to avoid stream impacts if development must occur near sensitive areas. Local plans can also consider some of the watershed-level effects on streams; for example, OCPs and bylaws can regulate the amount of impervious areas or require stormwater treatment plans as part of development approvals. Local land use controls can be used as a more effective form of regulation that achieves proactive protection rather than relying on reactive enforcement. Bylaws can help control the type and form of development to minimize urban stream impacts, and can integrate various issues related to urban stream protection within a single regulatory tool. When stream setbacks are incorporated into local bylaws, they become required during development, which is a stronger form of regulation than the recommendations provided by senior agencies through the referral process (although bylaw setbacks can be varied). The Land Development Guidelines can be strengthened by including them within local bylaws as has been done in the District of North Vancouver and the City of Coquitlam (Quadra 1995). Like other forms of regulation, local land use controls do not achieve the broader protection provided by planning processes, and operate on a site-by-site basis. Local regulations are most effective when used in combination with land use planning. 65 3.6 Summary: One Solution Urban streams are impacted by local activities and urban development is administered by local government; thus, within the boundaries of the urban environment, urban stream protection is a local issue. However, until recently stream protection has been the jurisdiction of senior agencies, fitted into existing legislation, and often slipping through the cracks of a fragmented governance structure. There has been little ownership over urban stream issues by local government. Management processes that are more decentralized and shift more responsibility and appropriate authority to the local level have the potential to increase the buy-in of local government and the community, and improve urban stream protection. Stream protection needs to be better integrated into the urban development process. But there are constraints to decentralized management, including a lack of financial resources, expertise, and political will, limited mandates, and small jurisdictional boundaries. There are also constraints associated with increased responsibility of either local government or the public, including a lack of a broader perspective, property rights mentality, and a perception of downloading. Local urban stream management programs need new directions that address these constraints in order to move forward and improve existing processes. The new directions for urban stream management presented in this chapter work together to improve existing processes and strengthen local management. Cooperative strategies between the different stakeholders balance broad policies and needs with local issues, and provide local government with the necessary support. Without cooperation, local government may perceive changes as downloading and be less supportive of urban stream protection initiatives. Coordination avoids overlap and confusion as different groups and issues are brought together in new arrangements. Linkages between the different stakeholders that affect urban stream protection within and amongst programs can integrate issues, reduce 66 gaps, and facilitate holistic decision making. Linkages may be more successful at the local level because it is a smaller scale of government and can more easily focus on a community or watershed. Public involvement strengthens government processes by giving them more credibility and community support, particularly at the local level where government is close to its electorate. Public involvement also facilitates public education. Education can help proactively protect streams by informing people about the activities that impact streams and reducing the damage that occurs at the source. Urban stream management programs must also ensure local government staff are educated so stream protection can be better integrated into the urban development processes that they administer. By integrating stream issues into land use plans and development control tools, local governments and their planning tools can be used to their fullest potential to protect streams before development begins. Together these new directions can help reduce the barriers put up by a fragmented governance structure and integrate stream protection with urban development. 67 4. A Program Evaluation Framework for Local Urban Stream Management Programs 4.1 Building the Program Evaluation Framework If new directions are needed in urban stream management (Chapter 3), specific initiatives (e.g., programs, pilots, etc.) will be adopted to move from traditional ways of doing business to newer models that incorporate these directions. The development and use of a sound framework to evaluate new initiatives provides the link between making decisions that move towards new models, and determining whether these decisions and models work in practice. Information flow from policy decision makers to bureaucratic program implementors is subject to translation and reinterpretation at many points, and can result in gaps between the intention of a policy decision (or program) and its actual outcome in the real world (Dunsire 1990). Programs need to be evaluated in order to learn from them, improve them, or determine if they should be continued. The field of program evaluation asks questions about how an initiative is operating, if it is serving its intended targets, and its strengths, weaknesses, and cost effectiveness (Herman et al. 1987). Program evaluation exercises focus primarily on the evaluation of social programs designed to help people lead more satisfying, safer and productive lives. Thus, many evaluations measure changes in target populations and the provision of services using both quantitative and qualitative methods and various data sources, to determine whether such social intervention programs are actually achieving the necessary benefits. Evaluation helps improve the quality of services of these programs and can provide direction for future initiatives (Posavac and Carey 1989). Program evaluation facilitates planning and decision making, but also gives agencies and organizations an opportunity to be accountable to the public. 68 Evaluation exercises can be used to design, monitor, assess the impacts, or analyze the benefits and costs of various programs. Thus, program evaluations will change their focus to meet different needs; for example (Herman et al. 1987): • objectives-based evaluation assesses progress towards specific objectives and effectiveness of innovations; • responsive evaluation depicts program processes and the value perspectives of key people; • evaluation research explains effects, identifies causes of effects and generalizes about program effectiveness; • advocacy-adversary evaluation derives from contrasting points of view; • utilization-oriented evaluation maximizes use of its conclusions by specific end-users; and • external evaluation assesses program effects based on measures apart from the program's own objectives. For this thesis, the field of program evaluation provides a basic framework and rationale for examining urban stream management programs, in particular the case study. It is used broadly to identify how to examine a program, how to structure an evaluation, the information to collect, and the types of evaluative questions to ask (see following subsections). What the field of program evaluation is not used for in this thesis is as a specific method of evaluating programs by measuring whether they have achieved their own objectives, which is commonly how program evaluation is described. Such an objectives-based evaluation would limit the conclusions of this thesis. A more informative evaluation will consider the explicit and implicit objectives, indirect outcomes, and unplanned activities that develop during implementation using external measures based on professional and participant judgments, previous evaluations, and the literature (Krause 1996, Patton 1984). The new directions identified for 69 urban stream management programs in Chapter 3 are used as an external measure in the evaluation framework for local programs, along with other variables that characterize program implementation and evaluation exercises. These are described in the following subsections, each of which discusses different layers of information and theory used to build the evaluation framework (Figure 4.1). 4.1.1 Process and Outcome Variables No matter what their purpose, program evaluation frameworks generally follow a basic structure. They assess both a program's processes and its outcomes, although they may emphasize one over the other. Process and outcome-based evaluations can also be known as function vs. effectiveness, cause vs. effect (Berk and Rossi 1990), implementation vs. outcomes (King et al. 1987), or administrative monitoring vs. performance monitoring (Posavac and Carey 1989). In general, process-related questions examine how the program was implemented and whether it is reaching its target population (i.e., the population that was intended to benefit from the program) (Posavac and Carey 1989). The clear understanding of the functioning of a program given by process-related questions will support a more thorough and accurate evaluation (King et al. 1987). Outcome-related questions are more action oriented, look at whether the program achieved desirable change or its objectives, and measure that change (Rossi and Freeman 1993). The boundary between process and outcome may be unclear; for example, a desirable outcome of a program may be an improved process. However, these terms provide some distinction between the two key foci of evaluation exercises. 70 PROCESS AND OUTCOME r VARIABLES: IMPLEMENTATION VARIABLES: Process Context Part ic ipants Program Clear Object ives Causa l Theory Structure STRUCTURE OF THE FRAMEWORK: NEW DIRECTIONS FOR URBAN STREAM MANAGEMENT: Capable agencies Coordinat ion Resources Rules Inputs Outcome Ou tcomes Cost Processes Cooperat ive Strategies Access Commi tmen t Suppor t Priority Outputs Coordinat ion O utcom es L inkages Public Invo lvement Proact ive Tools Educat ion Land use planning and regulat ion Figure 4.1 Different layers of information and theory used to build the evaluation framework. Both process and outcome variables should be included to allow a more complete evaluation. Only evaluating the outcomes of a program and ignoring its processes will limit the understanding gained through the evaluation exercise (King et al. 1987, Patton 1987). If an outcome-based evaluation identifies that few outcomes were achieved or little change occurred, the evaluator can not explain this result without evaluating the program's processes. Evaluating processes can also inform other programs because program implementation is more generalizable and repeatable in different settings. Similarly, only evaluating the processes of a program and ignoring its outcomes will limit the usefulness of the evaluation exercise. If a process-based evaluation identifies that the process was not well implemented, the evaluator can not conclude whether or not the program still achieved desirable change without evaluating the outcomes. Evaluating program outcomes provides the type of "bottom-line" information desired by decision makers. A hybrid framework that seeks to understand and evaluate both processes and outcomes of a program needs to be developed. 71 Five general characteristics of a program should be considered in an evaluation and provide more detail to process and outcome variables (Herman et al. 1987). 1. Context characteristics that make up the framework of constraints within which a program must operate should be considered. Context characteristics can include sociopolitical factors such as power and leadership, and program specific factors such as timeframe, budget, and specific incentives. 2. Participant characteristics should be considered since program outcomes could differ between participants. Participant characteristics that could affect the processes and outcomes of a program can include the type of agencies involved and their role, or the level of support and commitment a participant agency or landowner has for the program. 3. Program characteristics need to be considered in an evaluation, and include the principal activities, services, processes, and administrative arrangements implemented to achieve desirable change. These process-related characteristics can include a wide range of activities and may need to be more focused on those activities of greatest importance. 4. As previously discussed, program outcome characteristics need to be considered in an evaluation. The extent to which the program's objectives have been achieved are often used to evaluate its outcomes in an objectives-based evaluation. However, evaluating only the objectives in the program's design may limit the evaluation (King et al. 1987). Evaluating the case study outlined in Chapter 6 as to whether or not its stated objectives were achieved ignores whether or not the program followed new directions in urban stream management identified in Chapter 3, and whether or not it was protecting streams. 72 5. For a complete evaluation of the outcomes of a program, an analysis of direct and indirect program costs (e.g., cost efficiency, cost effectiveness, cost-benefit analysis) should also be included to determine if the program is valuable (Berk and Rossi 1990, Posavac and Carey 1989). However, full accounting of all of the costs and benefits of a program is difficult, particularly when long-term, less tangible benefits such as environmental protection are the key outcomes. Thus, cost analysis is not included in great detail in this evaluation framework. 4.1.2 Implementation Variables An evaluation of program processes should also consider variables that ensure more successful implementation. Certain variables are identified as critical to the implementation of a policy decision or program. Although a program could be evaluated according to whether the delivery system identified in its original design was followed (just as outcomes can be measured against original objectives), it can be better evaluated according to whether its implementation process was structured as effectively as possible, based on experiences and observations made by others in this field (i.e., external measures). By including such variables in an evaluation framework, the evaluator can more specifically identify where a program was poorly implemented. Problems are common when implementing any policy. If a program is too difficult to implement, this may suggest it has limited applicability in other settings (May 1995). Various policy implementation literature sources explain what program variables will affect implementation. Mazmanian and Sabatier (1989) have identified three different categories of variables driving implementation, namely: (1) the tractability of the problem, (2) the "statutory" variables (i.e., variables that relate to the program design and how it structures 73 implementation), and (3) the "nonstatutory" variables (i.e., external variables not included in the program's design but that affect implementation). The statutory variables, and some of the nonstatutory variables, can more easily be controlled within a program, whereas the tractability of the problem represents the limiting parameters inherent in the issue being addressed (Shrubsole et al. 1995) (e.g., the technical difficulty of avoiding cumulative effects to streams, the degree of behavioral change required in property owners, etc.). An evaluation framework should determine whether "controllable" statutory and nonstatutory variables are achieved in an urban stream management program so the evaluation can help identify where a program failed. These variables are summarized into six basic conditions for effective implementation of policies or initiatives (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). 1. Clear and consistent objectives: Decision makers must know what needs to be achieved by a program. They must express program priorities clearly to implementing agencies and other interested parties to ensure its outcomes are consistent with its objectives and are not ambiguous (Barrett and Fudge 1981, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). From their experience partnering with various community groups, DFO recognizes the importance of clearly defined program objectives and requirements in providing direction (Furlong 1997). Without precise and prioritized objectives, there is less guarantee that desirable change will be achieved. 2. Incorporation of and control over causal theory: A program needs to be designed with a logical understanding and rationale of how certain actions will achieve change (Weimer and Vining 1989). This implies an understanding of the principal factors and causal linkages of a problem. The implementing agencies also need to have the necessary jurisdiction over these actions, and can not be encumbered by excessive limits on their 74 discretion (Barrett and Fudge 1981, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Without adequate control by implementing agencies over the linkages between cause and effect, a program may be more influenced by external factors. 3. Structure that promotes desired performance: The processes, tools, and agencies brought together within the program's structure directly affect its implementation (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989, Steiner et al. 1994, Weimer and Vining 1989). Variables such as the initial provision of financial resources, interagency coordination (and incentives to achieve this), decision rules biased towards success (i.e., procedures that facilitate stream protection), formal access to outsiders (i.e., public involvement), and recruitment of committed and capable implementing agencies all affect implementation (Barrett and Fudge 1981, May 1995, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Clear roles and responsibilities are necessary, but can be affected by an agency's history and the perception they have of their role (Barrett and Fudge 1981). Thus, it is critical that the "right" implementing agencies are recruited. Partnerships need to clearly identify responsibility, accountability, and authority (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). Successful implementation of cooperative strategies often depends on the involvement of implementing agencies or officials in developing the program (May 1995). 4. Commitment and leadership skill of implementors: The commitment of implementing agency officials to the program and its objectives is critical for implementation (May 1995, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Program champions are needed to improve its chances of success. Not only do they need a supportive attitude, but they also need the political and managerial skills necessary to take supportive actions and not be overly limited in their discretionary ability (Barrett and Fudge 1981). If the program has been structured so that 75 more supportive implementing agencies are in place, officials will more likely meet these criteria (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Implementing agencies, especially local governments, need to have the capacity to undertake urban stream management (May 1995). 5. Constituency and political support: Implementation can be affected by conflicting values in the public or political realm (Barrett and Fudge 1981). Public support can affect implementation of a program when broad opinion sways the political agenda or when constituency groups influence legislators (Cote 1993, May 1995, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Support from key political offices is necessary as they can alter the resources available to the program, develop supportive or conflicting external policies, and provide a certain level of oversight (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Particularly useful is the availability of a "fixer", an influential individual who is supportive of the program and can affect its success (Weimer and Vining 1989). A key problem in implementing intergovernmental programs is that implementing agencies may be responsible to different political offices with different agendas (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). 6. Ongoing priority of policy objectives: Over time, the socioeconomic setting within which a program operates will change. Such external changes may affect perceptions of a program's priority, and often cause a demand for flexibility to adapt to local conditions (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Environmental priorities are particularly vulnerable to socioeconomic conditions (May 1995). Such changes affect the implementation of a program indirectly by influencing public and political support. In a climate of changing priorities, a program will be more successful in achieving desirable change if it is adaptable to changing conditions (Steiner et al. 1994). 76 4.1.3 Structure of the Framework The administrative component of government manages or coordinates management of aquatic resources and translates policy into practice. Many urban stream management programs are initiated by government agencies and staff in an effort to affect change within the existing governance structure. Thus, a model of policy implementation at the bureaucratic level of government has been used to provide more structure to the evaluation framework (Dunsire 1990). This general model of bureaucratic implementation provides a more detailed breakdown of the steps involved in moving from a policy decision to an outcome, namely the inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes (Figure 4.2). These steps are combined with the five program characteristics that are recommended to be considered in program evaluation (Section 4.1.1) and the six variables of implementation (Section 4.1.2) to further develop the evaluation framework, as shown in Figure 4.1. The specific elements and indicators of the framework for evaluating new programs are added in the next section, and incorporate the new directions in urban stream management presented in Chapter 3. Program Design Participation & Support Resources Cooperative Strategies Coordination Linkages Education Land Use Planning & Development Control INPUTS V PROCESSES OUTPUTS Improved Stream Protection OUTCOMES Figure 4.2 Flow diagram of the evaluation framework inputs, processes, and outputs. 77 The inputs to a program occur at its initiation, but often continue to evolve and affect the program throughout implementation. Inputs to a program include implementation variables related to: • participant characteristics (e.g., the agencies involved, their roles, commitment and leadership, and the degree of formal access provided to outsiders through public participation), and • context characteristics (e.g., the objectives and theory guiding the initiative, the public and political support, and the available resources). Program processes include the programming, operationalization and transmission within the bureaucratic system - the decision-making step (Dunsire 1990). Inputs define the operational conditions of decision making (i.e., who is making the decisions, what are they using in making the decisions, etc.). Processes of a program include implementation variables related to program characteristics, including program structure, procedures, and activities. More importantly, the decision-making processes in the evaluation framework reflect many of the new directions for local urban stream management programs suggested in Chapter 3. Outputs of the decision-making and implementation step are a part of a program's outcome characteristics. A program's outputs depend on what it intends to accomplish or should accomplish, but may take various forms. Outputs include the application of rules to illicit actions and effects in the real world. These "real world" responses are the outcomes, the final step in the bureaucratic implementation model. Where it is difficult to measure outcomes, it may be appropriate to evaluate the outputs of a program in anticipation of what the outcomes would be. 78 4.2 Elements of the Evaluation Framework for Urban Stream Management Programs As discussed in Chapter 2, traditional processes for urban stream management have been limited in their ability to protect streams from the impacts of urban development. These problems stem from the governance structure, its administrative complexity and limited resources, and the availability of mostly reactive legislation and administrative processes. As a result, various initiatives have been undertaken in BC in an attempt to improve the existing system. Urban stream management programs are operating within a certain policy setting based on the need to protect aquatic resources from urban development impacts within economic and social realities. It is not these policy goals that are being changed; rather, it is how they are achieved that needs to be improved. Literature critical of existing management processes has made recommendations for new directions in urban stream management programs, and has identified that urban stream management must be more decentralized, and must move towards processes that are more intersectoral, cooperative, and coordinated, increase levels of public involvement, and use proactive tools such as education and land use planning (Chapter 3). These new directions are integrated into the framework structure discussed in Section 4.1.3 (Figure 4.2). The evaluation framework is therefore able to determine: (1) whether new directions in urban stream management are followed in local programs; and (2) whether, in practice, new directions and processes are more effective at achieving urban stream protection. The thesis evaluation framework is not designed to quantitatively or definitively measure "success". Success is difficult to define, especially if a policy or program is evolving over time and being reiterated (Barrett and Fudge 1981). The site-specific nature of urban stream management programs also means that the most important information from an evaluation will 79 be the lessons that can be learned from one example to improve itself and inform initiatives in other settings. More specific indicators are identified in the following subsections for each of the framework elements (Figure 4.3). These indicators ask questions to determine whether framework elements have been achieved. Elements might be addressed to different degrees in different programs, but are still working towards desirable change. Thus, there is no "right" answer for each indicator; rather, the evaluation must be based on the overall picture provided by the complete framework. What this framework is designed to uncover are the strengths and weaknesses of local urban stream management programs to facilitate improvements and to identify critical strategies. 4.2.1 Program Design Section 4.2.1 to 4.2.3 describes the input elements of the evaluation framework. The objectives of an urban stream management program need to be clear and well understood by both decision makers, implementing agencies and their staff, and affected parties (i.e., landowners and the public). Clear objectives and priorities will help ensure better implementation of the objectives, particularly in a cooperative program where all of the partners need to be working in the same direction. The program design also needs to be based on a clear theory or rationale as to why certain actions adopted by the program will achieve the desired ends. Implementing agencies need to have control over causal theory linkages, but this variable is related more to their role and capacity (Section 4.2.2). Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Program has clear and consistent objectives. • Program has adequate rationale or causal theory. 80 CD > ° to <D — Z? <? o CD -*—< to co c o u T J C o CO cu -*—' CO to a) « TJ O CO (O (A (0 CO E E CO CO k. k— cn co o o k_ 0. CL CO CD Q E a O) o o E CO cn T J O 1 * s £ cu ° i - CU CO > CO t e o co 9-O . C L "S <° CO >-C L CO m to , . -*—< CO <= • c to C L . C L O O k_ a. r C L CO < 0-E CO co o C L CU cu > o C L ! c cu 10 > c o 5 ° -° §" cu to TO c "° • 1 II o 1 0 u to £ ^ CO o to CD O >> II £ E 9- o .§ o co o - a o => _ l O. 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If key agencies are not directly participating in a program, they should at least be aware of its objectives and support its processes and outcomes. Within government, bureaucratic staff will be most involved in implementing a program, but over time may need commitment and support from management and political levels. Public involvement is a participation issue. As discussed in Section 3.4, the community should be involved in and supportive of local urban stream management programs and their intent, especially those affected by the program outcomes (i.e., landowners). Whoever participates in a program, their level of interest, commitment, motivation, and skill will affect its implementation and outcomes. For urban stream management programs, this is especially true at the local level. When local organizations implement programs, a feeling of ownership will help ensure ongoing support and commitment. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Appropriate participants are involved. • Participants are supportive of the program at all levels and have the necessary capacity and skills. • Local implementors are committed and have ownership over the program. • Public/community groups are involved and supportive. 4.2.3 Resources Resource inputs ensure a new program is supported in terms of financial, human, and information needs. Without this fundamental support, a program may fail before it even gets 82 off the ground. In particular, cooperative urban stream management programs implemented at the local level require upfront financial resources, and information that is useful for local decision making (Cote 1993, Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995, Magazine 1977). Local agencies may require training to increase their inhouse capacity. New programs may require extra levels of effort during the first stages of implementation. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Financial resources are provided. • Information is provided in a useful and complete format. • Training and expert advice are provided. 4.2.4 Cooperative Strategies All of the process elements of the evaluation framework (Section 4.2.4 to 4.2.7) are affected by the program design, participation and support, and resource inputs identified above. Some of the input and process elements overlap; for example, the agency roles and responsibilities are aspects of participation but also depend on the cooperative arrangements in place. Cooperative strategies between participants and stakeholders strengthen decentralized processes by ensuring a new program driven by local organizations, especially local government, is adequately supported by senior agencies. Cooperative strategies need to be examined to determine whether decision making is more decentralized and is working. Programs should not be dominated by senior agencies; an appropriate senior role should provide support, ensure compliance and allow more local autonomy. Senior command and control must be avoided. Urban stream management programs must include an increased and supported role for local organizations to facilitate decentralized management. Participants must be supportive of the local organization responsible for implementation for cooperation to 83 be achieved. A process should be in place to address conflicts among the partners and allow cooperative decision making. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Local organizations have an increased and supported role. • All participants are cooperating together. • Conflicts among participants are resolved. 4.2.5 Coordination Coordination is needed to ensure the multiple agencies and partners involved in cooperative urban stream management programs are working together effectively. Coordination of activities reduces administrative complexity and more effectively uses limited resources. Formal procedures in an urban stream management program will help ensure coordinated implementation and consistent decision making. Because of uncertainties in the development process, and the inconsistency with which streams are protected, a consistent decision-making process is desirable. Guidelines and procedures directing decision making should also be biased towards achieving desired outputs (Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Coordination relates to the clarity with which participant roles are defined. Ongoing and effective communication amongst partners is essential to achieving coordination. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Participant roles are clear. • Clear procedures/guidelines are followed in decision making. • Communication amongst participants is improved. 84 4.2.6 Linkages As discussed in Section 3.3, better integration is needed between urban development and stream protection to avoid gaps and facilitate holistic decision-making. The processes adopted under an urban stream management program need to create these linkages and improve urban stream protection. The creation of effective linkages depends on whether the most appropriate agencies are participating in the program; thus, this element of the framework reexamines the participation and support of program participants. If linkages are created, the various sectors affecting urban stream management will be more integrated within program processes. Program outputs also determine whether intersectoral linkages are achieved; for example, if stream protection measures are incorporated into a zoning bylaw, then urban development and stream protection are better integrated (Section 4.2.8). At a broader level, linkages must also be made to the rest of the watershed; an urban stream management program should not be operating in isolation of other initiatives affecting aquatic resources. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • All appropriate sectors are involved. • Stream protection issues are integrated into the development process. • Urban stream management is integrated within a watershed context. 4.2.7 Education Section 4.2.7 to 4.2.8 describes the output elements of the evaluation framework. Education is a necessary output of any urban stream management program because the individual actions of landowners and the community often cause most of the impacts to streams. Outputs need to educate people to ensure proactive protection. Program participants, especially within local government, need to be educated to ensure stream protection issues 85 are integrated into the urban development process early on. Participant education should also ensure agencies understand and support each other, an output that feeds back and improves ongoing program processes. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: • Local organizations are more aware of stream protection issues. • Cross-disciplinary understanding is improved. • Public education is facilitated. 4.2.8 Land Use Planning and Development Control Stream protection issues must be integrated into local land use planning to ensure more proactive protection of streams by avoiding impacts to streams before development occurs. Regulatory tools must be more proactive and enforceable than the tools available through the federal Fisheries Act (although this legislation remains critical). If local development control tools (e.g:, bylaws) incorporate stream protection, they are better able to protect streams than Fisheries Act enforcement measures which only prosecute offenders after the damage has occurred. Local development regulations control activities before development occurs. The development process administered at the local level should also ensure stream protection is considered earlier on to facilitate this. As in current processes, when development proceeds, recommended protective measures must ensure activities cause as little impact as possible. These protective measures need to be appropriate for the development activity taking place, and to address all of the potential impacts to streams. If education and land use planning tools do not achieve the desired response, enforcement (at the senior or local level) may become necessary. As urban stream protection shifts more towards the local level, its effect on enforcement of the Fisheries Act needs to be considered. Indicators that this framework element has been achieved include: 86 • Local land use planning is more proactive and protective. • Local development processes are more proactive and protective. • Effective stream protection measures are recommended. • Appropriate enforcement continues. 4.3 Summary From an environmental perspective, the best way to evaluate an urban stream management program would be according to the bottom line - are aquatic resources better protected (May 1995). However, it is difficult to determine this outcome given the "newness" of many programs, the baseline information available, the technical difficulty of measuring stream health, and the long-term nature of environmental monitoring programs. Also, the bottom line for other perspectives will likely reflect different objectives (e.g., economic development). Although agencies may wish to ask "is enough habitat being protected", the obvious response at this point must be "how would we know?". Thus, the evaluation framework focuses on whether or not a local program improves current processes and strives to achieve improved and balanced urban stream protection through outputs that offer the best available protection. The evaluation framework developed throughout this chapter was built upon information gathered from the literature and structured into a useful framework for looking at local urban stream management programs. Evaluation of a case study program will place this framework into a more practical perspective, demonstrate how it can be used, and see what can be learned from one example. Before the thesis case study is introduced, the following chapter presents the methods used to collect and analyze data for the evaluation. 87 5. Methods for Evaluating the Case Study 5.1 Research Approach Research approaches are generally categorized as either qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative approaches build a complex, holistic picture through research methods that use human reports and observations, and that examine phenomena in their natural setting without manipulation or precise measurement (Denzin and Lincoln 1994, Patton 1987). It views reality as subjective and emphasizes the importance of multiple perspectives, including that of the researcher. Qualitative research has been characterized as being inductive, holistic, constructivist, naturalistic, interpretative, and postmodern (Creswell 1994, Patton 1987). Quantitative approaches test a theory through research methods that use variables measured by numbers and analyzed with statistical procedures (Creswell 1994). Findings are broad and generalizable, and diverse opinions and experiences are fit into distinct categories (Patton 1987). Quantitative research views reality as objective and emphasizes the importance of an unbiased and distanced researcher. It has been characterized as being traditional, positivistic, experimental, and empirical (Creswell 1994). The differences between these two approaches are often unclear and occur along a continuum; quantitative and qualitative approaches and methods are often combined to achieve the best results (Patton 1987). For example, interviewing can be either a quantitative or a qualitative method. As a semi-quantitative method, a random sample of people of a statistically appropriate number would be interviewed in a survey format, and results would be statistically analyzed. As a qualitative method, a select and targeted sample of individuals with certain views or understanding would be interviewed in a more open-ended format, and results would be analyzed in a descriptive manner. 88 One of the key differences between qualitative and quantitative approaches is how literature and existing theory are used to guide the research. As discussed, quantitative research is designed to test a theory; therefore, the literature is used to identify questions, themes, and interrelationships before data are collected (Creswell 1994, Patton 1987). Qualitative approaches build a theory as the research progresses; themes are identified throughout the research process and the literature is used to explore different topics (Creswell 1994). Qualitative approaches uncover patterns as they emerge to explain a phenomenon and verify information amongst different sources. Chapters 2 and 3 outlined the first part of the thesis research. They highlighted some of the limitations of the existing governance structure and processes for protecting urban streams, and identified new directions for urban stream management programs to follow as they continue to evolve at the local level. The evaluation framework presented in Chapter 4 structures the themes that have emerged thus far from this synthesis. Although the evaluation framework is imposing certain patterns onto the case study analysis before data collection, it is intended to be used as a broad tool that will be strengthened and further refined according to the data collected. Therefore, the evaluation framework is a qualitative theory placed early in the research, also known as a "theory in development" (Creswell 1994: 96) or tentative conceptual framework. This theory is further developed through the use of a case study. Case studies are used in qualitative research to investigate different phenomena within their real contexts (Yin 1994). They are objects of study, not methods of study, and are thus bounded by time, place, and activity (Stake 1994). Arguments synthesized from the literature can be used to guide data collection and analysis of a case study (Patton 1987, Yin 1994), as 89 is done through the evaluation framework presented in Chapter 4. Other categories and themes that emerge contribute to this argument and ensure a complete analysis of the case study. The case study, discussed in Chapter 6, is a partnership agreement for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas (aquatic habitat) in the Comox Valley, BC. It occurs as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DFO, BCE and the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona (RDCS). The purpose of this pilot initiative was to improve the existing system of reviewing development proposals for aquatic habitat impacts. The local government (RDCS) assumed more responsibility for assessing the impact of urban land use proposals on sensitive aquatic habitat. Studying this case study provides a better understanding of the urban stream management issues discussed in previous chapters and refines the theories of the evaluation framework (Stake 1994). This thesis uses a qualitative case study approach, although some semi-quantitative methods of analysis are used (Section 5.2.1). Some reasons for using a qualitative approach in this evaluation include (Creswell 1994, Patton 1987): • The problem has little theoretical background and its variables are largely unknown or context driven. • The internal dynamics of the initiative, its implementation, and its quality need to be understood. • There is an interest in improving the pilot initiative. • Proven quantitative instruments for evaluating outputs and outcomes are lacking. 90 Urban stream management is not an area with a large theoretical basis; theoretical literature primarily addresses broader issues related to aquatic resource management. The case study is a specific pilot initiative that needs to be examined in great detail to be understood. It involves a small group of people rather than a segment of the population. Information from the case study analysis can be used to improve this urban stream management program and inform others. Finally, because the pilot initiative being analyzed is new, it would be difficult to evaluate outcomes (i.e., stream protection) with a quantitative measure. Therefore, the evaluation is focused on understanding inputs, processes and outputs of the initiative. Case study analysis depends on the collection of detailed information using various methods, often including document analysis, interviewing, and observation (Creswell 1994, Denzin and Lincoln 1994). All of these methods are used (see following section). Thus, both written and verbal data sources, which often provide different information, are used (Hodder 1994). 5.2 Data Collection Because the focus of the research has been on government and administrative processes, and because government is responsible for stream protection and urban development, case study data collection methods focused on gathering information from government sources. Other perspectives were captured as well to enhance the case study analysis, but the focus remained on government sources. 5.2.1 Interviews Interviews were a key data collection method and provided the most diverse information on the case study. Interviews focused on government staff involved to varying degrees in the pilot initiative because it was primarily an internal government initiative. Participants have the most 91 indepth understanding of a program, and can offer unique perceptions into its strengths and weaknesses (Posavac and Carey 1989). They know where it came from, how it evolved, and how it works today. Interview questions were developed and grouped according to the elements and indicators of the evaluation framework (Chapter 4). A semi-standardized interview was designed where predetermined questions were asked systematically and consistently to all interviewees and other areas of interest were followed as they became apparent (Berg 1989). Open-ended questions were asked allowing the interviewees to use their own words, follow their own thoughts, and arrive at their own conclusions (Posavac and Carey 1989). The most relevant questions for discussion were paired with probing questions to draw out a more complete narrative (Berg 1989, Fontana and Frey 1994). Probes are particularly useful for addressing interviewer or interviewee confusion. Icebreaker questions were used at the onset to put the interviewee at ease (Fontana and Frey 1994, Posavac and Carey 1989). Simple, nonthreatening and noncontroversial questions followed (Berg 1989, Patton 1987). These kinds of questions are easy for the interviewee to answer, increasing their comfort level. More complex and sensitive questions were next (Berg 1989). These types of questions included interpretations, opinions, and feelings about behaviour and actions. Interpretative questions are easier for the interviewee to answer at this point because they follow their own descriptions of the activities or issues in question (Patton 1987). All of these questions first addressed present issues, followed by past issues then future issues. Certain strategies were used in conducting the interviews. A brief overview of the thesis and case study analysis was provided at the beginning of the interview. Without establishing the purpose of the research, the interviewee may formulate their own notions that could influence 92 their responses (Foddy 1993). To ensure questions were made clear for the interviewee, the relevance or topic of each question group was briefly explained if necessary. Conversations were avoided so that interviewer opinions were not revealed (Fontana and Frey 1994). Where appropriate, it was specified whether or not the interviewee was being asked for their own opinion or an opinion that reflected their agency. Confidentiality was stressed before the interview to ensure the most honest responses were obtained (Foddy 1993). With the permission of the interviewee, interviews were recorded on audio tape. Some written notes were taken in case of recording problems. Observations about the interview itself were recorded immediately following the meeting (e.g., emotional responses, attitudes) (Foddy 1993). In order to protect the confidentiality of interviewees, a coding system was developed to differentiate between sources (Berg 1989). Interviews were conducted in November and December 1997. Two types of interviews were conducted: indepth interviews and focused interviews. Fifteen (15) indepth interviews were conducted with government staff and knowledgeable government representatives. A cross-section of people involved in the pilot initiative was interviewed. Different government representatives were involved at various stages; for example, some staff were involved in the design of the pilot initiative and other staff were involved in its implementation. Also, staff included managers and technicians who had different roles in the case study. Interview responses depended on their individual responsibilities and perspectives. Interviewees included: • eight (8) staff from Department of Fisheries and Oceans (current and former staff); • four (4) staff from BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (current and former staff); and 93 • three (3) current staff from the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona. Five (5) focused interviews were conducted with people outside of government who were knowledgeable about the pilot initiative. Interviewees included: • two (2) members of a local environmental NGO; and • three (3) local developers. These interviews were designed to gather a broader range of perspectives, but because of the lack of understanding of some of these interviewees (especially developers) about the details of the initiative, these interviews did not uncover significant information. A few telephone interviews were unsuccessful in finding other local groups with some knowledge of the initiative. Most of the interviews were conducted privately in the interviewees place of business. The duration of interviews ranged from one to two hours. Some general impressions were taken from the interview process. First, the majority of interviewees were very open and positive. In some cases, more negative comments appeared to be related to broader changes in government (e.g., cutbacks, restructuring). Second, all of the interviewees were well informed, but very few had a holistic understanding of the pilot initiative. This impression emphasized the need to interview staff involved in different stages and with different responsibilities. Third, there was a high level of agreement and commonality amongst the opinions and comments of the interviewees. Finally, as mentioned above, those people not directly involved in the pilot initiative (including government and nongovernment interviewees) provided very little information relevant to the evaluation framework. 94 Interview highlights were transcribed and were only edited for clarity (i.e., pauses and interjections removed). Edits were noted in quotes using "[...]". Interview highlights were chosen based on the content of the quote and its applicability to the evaluation framework. Information gathered from interviewees provided much of the results presented in Chapter 7. Interviewee codes are used as references in text but sources remain confidential. All of the interview questions are included in Appendix A. Not all of the questions were asked to each interviewee depending on the level of detail given in their answers and their role in the initiative. The interview strategy was approved by the UBC Ethics Committee. 5.2.2 Documents and Records Existing documents and records were used to collect data on the case study. Written material provides valuable information that does not depend on the involvement of program participants and is less susceptible to subjective biases and perceptions (Posavac and Carey 1989). Documents are generally considered to include written material prepared for personal reasons (e.g., letters, memorandums, etc.), whereas records are generally considered to include written material prepared for official reasons (e.g., permits, licenses, etc.) (Hodder 1994). Various document sources were used. Existing reports and correspondence were used to provide information on the setting, related activities in the Comox Valley, and background information to the program design. Some correspondence, including meeting minutes4, provided information on the inputs, processes, and outputs since implementation. Records consisted of the official files for the 139 development proposals reviewed under the pilot initiative from July 1995 to March 1997. Development proposal files provided information on the processes, including the level of involvement of the partners and the type and number 95 of applications reviewed. More importantly, this source provided most of the information on the initiative's outputs. A detailed database of development proposals was created from available files and databases at the RDCS (Appendix B). Information from the detailed database was summarized and tabulated (Chapter 6). Most of the documents used to collect data were obtained from files available through RDCS. This central data source generally provided a complete set of information; however, some data gaps may have resulted in an incomplete representation of the actual activities and decisions of the other two partners (i.e., DFO and BCE). Also, because it was not responsible for compiling complete information on development proposals in the past, RDCS files did not provide comparable information for urban stream protection activities prior to implementation. Interview questions were designed to address these data gaps. 5.2.3 Case Examples More detailed information on the case study was collected from case examples (Yin 1994). This method allows examination of either typical case examples and/or atypical case examples (e.g., extreme or deviant case sampling [Patton 1987]). Atypical case examples are often rich with information that informs the case study analysis. Case examples included specific development proposals that were reviewed under the pilot initiative. Examples were identified during meetings or by staff. Detailed information was collected from files and during meetings for 18 examples. This method provided information on more specific strengths and weaknesses of the pilot initiative. References to meeting minutes are coded (e.g., M-1) and included in the reference list. 96 5.2.4 Observation Direct observation was used as a minor method of collecting information on the case study. Observation provides insight into some of the critical activities, behaviours and setting characteristics that may escape participants that are directly involved in the program, or that they may not wish to discuss (Patton 1987). It allows an understanding of how the program works in practice (Posavac and Carey 1989). From October 1996 to July 1997, observational notes were taken at a number of meetings, including: • two (2) quarterly meetings (January 1997, July 1997); • one (1) meeting on updating the Habitat Atlas (January 1997); • one (1) OCP public hearing (October 1996); and • two (2) site visits (October 1996, March 1997). A number of days were spent at RDCS reviewing documents and records (Section 5.2.2), allowing other opportunities for observation and conversations with staff. Observational notes were gathered as an observer rather than as a participant. Although this method avoids direct effects on the activities being observed, nonparticipant observation may still have some effect on those being observed (Patton 1987, Posavac and Carey 1989). Recognizing this potential limitation, efforts were taken to avoid any interruption of activities being observed. There was always an open invitation from case study participants to act as an observer without having to solicit this invitation. 5.3 Use of Data Sources and Analysis The multiple sources of data collected for the case study evaluation were used in an integrated manner. Interviews were used most directly and are therefore referenced in text (Chapter 7). Some unpublished sources of data are referenced in text as well (i.e., meeting minutes). 97 However, most of the information collected from other sources are used together and are not referenced as single sources of information (e.g., development application files, meeting notes, case example narratives). Multiple sources allowed triangulation amongst sources to obtain stronger results (see next section). The evaluation framework provided a structure that facilitated the use of multiple data sources as well as data analysis and interpretation. Information from interviews and other sources were brought together as patterns following the framework elements. Information was evaluated against the questions asked by framework indicators. Interview quotes and case examples were used as evidence throughout the analysis. Different data sources were compared and contrasted. To evaluate the relative effectiveness of a program, a comparison is made between; (1) whether necessary change was achieved with the program, and (2) whether change would be achieved without it (Berk and Rossi 1990). Analysis of the case study data also compared existing conditions to those that existed prior to implementation. Most historical case study data were obtained from interviews rather than documents. From this analysis, the strengths and weaknesses of the pilot initiative were identified by reflecting on information collected, determining if framework elements were achieved, and referring back to the literature to strengthen conclusions. 5.4 Data Verification Although data validity is not a particular focus of qualitative approaches, information was verified to ensure some degree of internal and external validity (Creswell 1994, Posavac and Carey 1989). The validity of interview data can be threatened by biases within interviewee responses, a lack of comprehension or self-awareness, a lack of objectivity, and a limited set 98 of questions (Henersen et al. 1987). Data can be distorted as a result of the particular situations, time periods and/or participants that were observed or interviewed. Reliability refers to whether research methods can be replicated by others. Because of the uniqueness of the case study and timeframe, exact replication of this study may be unlikely. However, standard qualitative methods are used and documented in this chapter, making the research more repeatable. Internal validity refers to the accuracy of the information and whether it represents reality (Creswell 1994). In postmodern qualitative research, validity is not discussed since definitions of reality are subjective (Denzin and Lincoln 1994). Triangulation, using multiple lines of sight to get broader and better results, is used as an alternative method of addressing internal validity, and identifying and explaining data distortions (Berg 1989, Fontana and Frey 1994). Triangulation includes methodological triangulation, where multiple methods are used during research to collect data, and data triangulation, where multiple data sources are used (Patton, 1987, Berg 1989). Both types of triangulation were used for the thesis case study; multiple methods included document analysis, observation, and interviews, and multiple sources were used within some methods (e.g., more than one person was interviewed). Finally, external validity refers to whether research findings can be generalized to other situations (Berk and Rossi 1990). Qualitative approaches and the use of case studies are less generalizable because they provide such a unique and detailed interpretation of specific events. The thesis case study examines in detail a particular urban stream management program with its unique context and setting, and the findings are consequently less generalizable to other situations. However, some generalizability is possible from the 99 categories and patterns that emerge (Creswell 1994). The elements and indicators of the evaluation framework in Chapter 4 are intended to be more broadly applicable, and the conclusions and recommendations include findings that can be generalized to other settings. 100 6. A Case Study of a Local Urban Stream Management Program A case study of a local urban stream management program is used in this thesis to expand on issues presented in previous chapters and ground them in reality. This section summarizes key information on the setting, background, and implementation of an urban stream management pilot initiative in the Comox Valley, BC. Information for this chapter was gathered primarily from published material that is referenced throughout the text. Information from unpublished sources, including meeting notes, conversations, and development application files, is also integrated throughout the chapter but is not referenced. 6.1 The Case Study Setting and Background: Comox Valley, British Columbia 6.1.1 Location and Biophysical Setting The Comox Valley lies along the east coast of central Vancouver Island in British Columbia (Figure 6.1). The climate consists of predominantly long, cool, relatively wet summers, and short, mild, wet winters. Low summer precipitation creates an annual water deficit in many subwatersheds of the Comox Valley (Braybrook et al. 1995, Riddell and Bryden 1996). Precipitation is largest from November to January; higher elevations receive moderate snowfalls (Morris et al. 1979). The Comox Valley lies within the Douglas fir dry and wet subzones, western hemlock dry and wet subzones, and the mountain hemlock subzone of the biogeoclimatic system (Morris et al. 1979). The Strathcona timber supply area is dominated by Douglas fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, and Sitka spruce (ARA Consulting Group 1995). Soils consist primarily of loamy sands, with distinctive fine silty loams along the Tsolum and Courtenay River that are well drained, fertile, and attractive for agriculture (Morris et al. 1979). Wildlife in the area include cougar, black bear, deer, river otter, beaver, some elk, and rare and endangered mammals such as the Vancouver Island marmot, American water shrew, wolf, wolverine, and short-tailed weasel (Morris et al. 1979). Various waterfowl species reside 101 Figure 6.1 Map of the Comox Valley and inset identifying the location within BC (from Morris et al. 1979). 102 in the Comox Valley (CVEC 1991, Morris et al. 1979). The Tsolum and Courtenay River area is important for wintering and migrating waterfowl, and the Courtenay and Trent River estuary is the second most important migratory waterfowl estuary on the BC coast. Approximately 10% of the world population of Trumpeter Swans overwinter in the valley. Surrounding mountain ranges (including Forbidden Plateau and the Beaufort Mountain Range) and lakes to the west form the headwaters of the streams that drain the valley (Figure 6.1). Because of the valley's flat topography, streams in urban/rural areas are often low gradient systems that meander towards the coast. Constructed to improve drainage in agricultural areas, ditches drain into natural stream systems and can sometimes support fish species and become fish habitat. Most of the streams in the valley have low summer monthly discharges that are naturally limiting to fish (Riddell and Bryden 1996). Limiting information is available, but groundwater resources are expected to exist in major aquifers near the northeast end of Comox Lake, at the mouth of a tributary to Comox Lake, along the Tsolum River floodplain, and in the deltas of Tsable River and Trent River (Braybrook et al. 1995, Riddell and Bryden 1996). The largest lake in the area is Comox Lake (16.2 km2). Anadromous and resident fish species known to frequent most streams in the area include chum, coho, Chinook, pink, and sockeye salmon, and steelhead, cutthroat, and rainbow trout (Morris et al. 1979). Comox Lake and smaller lakes are home to resident freshwater species such as Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout, threespine stickleback, and kokanee. Marine resources include concentrated areas of groundfish (e.g., english sole, pacific cod, ling cod), shrimp, cultivated oysters, butter clams, geoduck clams, crabs, and abalone. Baynes Sound supports many of these resources, in particular groundfish and oysters. Marine mammals in local waters include harbour seals, orca whales, Stellar's sea lions, harbour and dall porpoises, northern fur seals, and gray whales. 103 6.1.2 Political Setting The Comox Valley is within the jurisdiction of the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona (RDCS). RDCS consists of eight Electoral Areas (i.e., unincorporated, often rural areas) and eight municipalities, encompassing mid-Vancouver Island and an adjacent portion of the BC mainland. The Comox Valley case study area includes Electoral Areas A, B, C, and a small southern portion of Electoral Area D (Figure 6.1). Comox, Courtenay, and Cumberland are within the valley, but are under their own municipal jurisdiction for most local services. None of these municipalities is a signatory to the case study pilot initiative. One Electoral Area Director is elected for a three-year term by each area for representation on the regional district's governing body, the RDCS Board of Directors (RDCS n.d.). The RDCS Board of Directors also includes a number of representatives from the municipalities depending on population size; for example, three councilors represent Courtenay. The regional board votes on issues when necessary; regular meetings are open to the public. Only those directors whose area is affected by a decision are given the power to vote in these situations. Committees are formed from members of the regional board to address specific issues. The last local election was held in November 1996. Restructuring of the municipal boundaries within RDCS is being considered by the province. Urban areas have expanded beyond their municipal boundaries. Consequently, some nodes of significant population within Electoral Areas are still only represented by one Electoral Area Director, while municipalities have their own mayor and council as well as regional representation. This imbalance causes a lack of fair and direct representation, limited access to decision making, and a weaker political voice for some Electoral Areas (R.A. Rabnett & Associates n.d.). The restructuring option most recently considered by BC MMA involved the 104 amalgamation of Comox, Courtenay, and parts of Electoral Area A, B, and C into a district municipality. The final decision will be made by referendum. Regional district responsibilities are mandated through the Municipal Act, but many services may or may not be assumed by each regional district. For example, RDCS only recently adopted official floodplain bylaws like most local governments. Recently, RDCS opted to assume subdivision authority (anticipated in 1998). RDCS is responsible for providing some local services to Electoral Areas, including land use planning. Land use planning is the responsibility of the RDCS planning department. In the Comox Valley, one planner and one technician is responsible for Electoral Areas A and B, and another planner-technician team is responsible for Electoral Areas C and D. Recommendations of the planning department are reviewed by the Comox Valley Planning Committee, a regional board committee that includes the Electoral Area Directors of A, B, and C, and one representative from each of the three municipalities in the valley. Planning decisions for Area D are made by the Campbell River Planning Committee. Municipalities are represented on these committees to address cross-jurisdictional issues. Once a recommendation is accepted by the Planning Committee, it is ratified by the RDCS Board of Directors. Routine decisions of the Planning Committees are generally adopted by the regional board without great discussion. However, this final level of decision making does provide a forum for discussion amongst the entire board as well as the public (Figure 6.2a). 105 Planning Official Community Plan Framework 1 Zoning Bylaws Development Proponent Inquiry Review Process Development Proposal 1 Referrals Staff Review (if needed) 1 Staff Review and Report -Response — • (unless Board Planning Committee i decision required) 1 Regional Board Public Hearing (if required) Figure 6.2a Planning Official Community Plan Framework 1 Zoning Bylaws Development Review Process Referrals (if needed! Less reliance on referral processes Proponent Inquiry development Proposj Habitat Atlas used to identify stream protection issues ....... ~"^^J mmnratetn inrn rev integr t d into review -*• Response (unless Board Staff Review and Report — I Planning Committee decision required) I Regional Board I Public Hearing (if required) Figure 6.2b Figure 6.2 Simplified diagram of RDCS development decision-making processes before (a) and after (b) the Comox Valley pilot initiative. 106 RDCS provides regional services such as sewage management to Electoral Areas and municipalities (RDCS n.d.). In the Comox Valley, most Electoral Areas are serviced by septic tanks. RDCS operates a regional sewage system, but only the municipalities of Courtenay and Comox currently utilize this system (RDCS 1995). Various rural, municipal, regional, and private systems exist for water supply. Some areas in the valley receive water from the RDCS regional water system sourced from Comox Lake (RDCS 1995). Separate public waterworks systems are managed by municipalities and smaller communities in the Comox Valley, and approximately 10,000 people in the Comox Valley were serviced by wells in 1993 (CVEC 1993). Almost 2,000 wells are recorded by the province in the Nelson, Comox, and Oyster Land Districts (which are mostly encompassed by RDCS) (BC MELP n.d.-b). 6.1.3 Socioeconomic Setting The Comox Valley was originally inhabited by Salish Nation aboriginals (the Comox Band, where Comox means "plenty" or "abundance" [Morris et al. 1979]). Later, Kwakiutl Nation aboriginals (the Pentlatch, or Puntledge, Band) also inhabited the area. First Nations still present in the valley are known as the Comox Band, and there are three reserves (Morris et al. 1979). The first European settlers arrived as farmers. Since 1966, the average annual growth rate has been 3.7%, but recent annual growth rates in the area have been estimated at 8% and higher in some years (RDCS 1995). The 1991 census counted a population of 25,020 in unincorporated areas of the valley (ARA Consulting Group 1995). The Comox Valley has had the fourth largest population increase in BC over recent years (DFO et al. 1995) and the City of Courtenay recorded the fourth highest growth rate in Canada between 1991 and 1996 (Statistics Canada 1996-97). 107 A key influence on the pattern of urban development associated with this growth has been Highway 19 (the Island Highway) which runs adjacent to the coast of Vancouver Island. Until recently, this highway was the only route connecting the Comox Valley with the north and south of Vancouver Island. Urban development has generally occurred in a linear fashion along the highway, despite policies such as those in the Official Regional Plan of the 1970s that encouraged development in previously established population centres to avoid this sprawl (Morris et al. 1979). Most of the growth along the east coast of Vancouver Island has occurred along its coastal edge. Historically, development in the Comox Valley has generally occurred one subdivision at a time, and large lot zoning (i.e., greater than 5 acres per lot) has been used to restrict growth. Unfortunately, the result has been scattered development and costly servicing (RDCS 1995). Land use in the valley remains predominantly rural and semi-rural, while land at higher elevations is mostly zoned for upland resource uses such as forestry. There are various land use zones for Electoral Areas A, B, and C, with minimum parcel sizes between 0.3 and 40 acres (except in upland resource and some rural zones which have greater minimums); population density is low (RDCS 1986, 1995). Various zoning designations in Electoral Area A, B, and C accommodate agricultural uses. A significant portion of the valley is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), although urbanization is threatening some rural areas (CVEC 1991). In 1974, there was 43,724 ha of land in the ALR in RDCS; in 1993, this amount had decreased to 40,380 ha (Provincial ALC 1994). In 1991, there were 427 farms in RDCS (BC MAFF n.d.). Agricultural uses predominate in the Tsolum and Courtenay River area where the principal source of revenue is from dairy operations. Other farming revenue comes from fruit trees, berries, russet potatoes, greenhouse and field vegetables, organic crops, sod farms, mushroom houses, forage crops, and livestock such as beef, chicken and pork (Synergy Management Group n.d.). Markets are primarily local. 108 Forestry activities originally predominated in the valley but have moved into upper watershed areas (Morris et al. 1979). Most forested land on the east coast of Vancouver Island is privately owned and thus not currently regulated under the Forest Practices Code. Forest operations on private land do need to complete management plans in order to receive tax benefits. Population growth trends in the Comox Valley are changing the local forestry industry as some companies turn towards developing their land for human settlement instead of sustainable harvests. Forestry-related industries such as log storage and sawmilling are also active in the valley. Prior to forestry, coal mining was the main industry in the Comox Valley, mostly in Cumberland, Puntledge, Bevan, and Union Bay (Riddell and Bryden 1996). The industry peaked in the early 1900s with 10,000 miners in the region, and led to the development of the Island Highway and E&N Railway (Morris et al. 1979). Currently, sand and gravel deposits are the primary nonrenewable resource extracted from the valley. A partially decommissioned mine is located near Mt. Washington, and a new coal mine is located near Tsable River. Commercial, recreational and aboriginal fishing activities are based out of the Comox Valley. Over 200 commercial vessels operate out of the area. Salmon (chinook, coho, chum) and herring have historically been the primary catches in DFO Statistical Area 14 s , with secondary catches of halibut, cod, and english sole (ARA Consulting Group 1995, Morris et al. 1979). More recently, salmon has not been fished commercially in Statistical Area 14, and primary catches have been dominated by roe herring (DFO 1998a). In 1997, primary commercial catches of shellfish included prawns and clams, with secondary catches of shrimp, crabs, and scallops (DFO 1998a). Pacific oysters are also cultivated on foreshore areas in Baynes Sound, the most productive shellfish growing area in BC (CVEC 1991). Freshwater sport fishing occurs throughout the valley, with concentrated efforts around the Puntledge and Oyster River where steelhead and cutthroat trout are the primary catch (Morris et al. 1979). Tidal sports 5 DFO Statistical Area 14 spans from south of Campbell River to north of Nanaimo, and east to Texada Island. 109 fishing in the region targets chinook and coho salmon with recent increases in pink salmon. Although the number of recorded boat trips and coho catches have decreased over the past decade, sports fishing has been taking approximately three times the commercial harvest of chinook and coho salmon in recent years (DFO 1998b). Historically, commercial catches were twice the size of sports fishing catches for these species. Despite a resource economy that includes agriculture, forestry, mining, and fishing, the service industry has been the major employer in the Comox Valley in recent history as a result of the Canadian Forces Base in Comox (ARA Consulting Group 1995). Recreation and tourism in and around the valley, including fishing, hunting, boating, golf, skiing, Strathcona Provincial Park, and over 40 regional parks, also support the local service industry. 6.1.4 Aquatic Resource Problems A considerable decline has been observed in many of the Comox Valley's fisheries resources. It is estimated that the commercial and recreational catch of wild coho salmon in the Strait of Georgia decreased by 66,000 fish per year from 1976 to 1989, although the effects of this decline were masked for some time by an increased harvest of hatchery coho (DFO 1992). These declines appear to be the result of both habitat loss and overharvesting. As evidence of problems in the Comox Valley, the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC listed the Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers as BC's most endangered river system in 1998 (ORCBC 1998). Chinook runs in this system declined from an average 3,000 fish to less than 300 in the summer and fall (Independent Panel 1998). The province also recently identified Black Creek and Little River as two candidates (out of a total 15 candidates) for designation as sensitive streams under proposed regulations of the Fish Protection Act (BC MELP 1998b). 110 Environmental, political, social, and economic systems are often not balanced by management systems. In the Comox Valley, the accelerated growth, urbanization, and resource extraction that characterizes the human setting are often in conflict with the high value water and fisheries resources that characterize the biophysical setting and support the community (Box 6-A). Habitat-related fisheries declines are likely a direct result of the various site-specific and cumulative impacts to water quantity, water quality, and fish habitat that stem from these conflicts. Some impacts observed in the Comox Valley include (CVEC 1993): • shortages of surface water and groundwater (for domestic, agricultural, hydroelectric uses); • reduction of instream flow for fish; • siltation of rivers and spawning habitat; • contamination of water by conforms and toxins, rendering some water sources and marine shellfish unfit for consumption; • alteration of runoff patterns from farm lands; and • flooding resulting in property and topsoil loss, and costly bank destabilization. Management measures, such as hatcheries, spawning channels, lake and river stocking, flow deflectors, migration weirs, controlled flows, and habitat restoration, have been initiated on many rivers in the Comox Valley to restore fish stocks (Morris et al. 1979, Riddell and Bryden 1996). But as aquatic resource problems have increased, it has been recognized that solutions lie in acknowledging and balancing all issues, addressing conflicts, and appropriately managing resources in an integrated manner before problems occur. In addition to growth pressures, observers in the Comox Valley have identified other reasons for aquatic resource problems, including limited funding, limited monitoring, weak and poorly applied legislation, lack of judicial support, limited control on private lands, and limited public understanding (CVEC 1991). It is these types of constraints that urban stream management efforts need to 111 address as high population growth and urbanization increasingly threaten fish habitat in the Comox Valley. Box 6-A. Aquatic Resource Conflicts Agricultural operations extract water for irrigation, discharge biological and chemical wastes to the receiving environment, and clear stream banks, resulting in impacts in the Tsolum River on water quantity and quality, fish habitat, and future agricultural potential. A recent survey indicated that farmers are most concerned about the effect of water availability on the future of valley farming. Hinterland forestry operations cause unstable flows and flooding in downstream rivers, resulting in dyking and channelization of the Oyster River and subsequent impacts to fish habitat and water availability, including loss of spawning gravel. Abandoned mining operations at Mt. Washington release toxic levels of copper during key fisheries windows on the Tsolum River, which is aggravated by agricultural and domestic water extractions and sediment inputs from construction and logging. Dams for hydroelectric and water supply purposes cause fish habitat to become inaccessible, resulting in impacts to fish populations and a need for various restoration projects (e.g., hatcheries, spawning channels, etc.). The river system upstream of BC Hydro's dam on the Puntledge River used to support salmonid populations. Upstream land clearing and development cause downstream flooding for residents in Little River and Brooklyn Creek watershed. from: CVEC 1993, Independent Panel 1998, Morris et al. 1979, Synergy Management Group n.d. 6.1.5 Evolution Towards Local Stream Management Processes The general evolution towards local urban stream management (Chapter 2) is reflected more specifically in the Comox Valley. Referral, planning, and local processes have all developed in an effort to address some of the problems discussed above. Like most local governments in BC, RDCS has relied on senior agencies to provide input on environmental issues through referral processes. Official community plans did not include clear urban stream protection policies, although some input may have been received in the early 1980s through a Technical Planning Committee. Therefore, any urban stream protection 112 issues were addressed on a site-by-site basis through the referral process. Developers and project proponents forwarded applications to RDCS whenever proposed activities required a change in land use, a permit, an approval, or other official acceptance. RDCS distributed applications to appropriate senior agencies (i.e., DFO and/or BCE) and awaited their input before responding to the proponent. RDCS bylaws did include general watercourse (i.e., floodplain) setbacks but these were never officially within their mandate and did not address riparian protection (RDCS 1986). Limitations within the referral process meant that not all projects (in fact relatively few) were referred to senior agencies. RDCS determined whether to circulate applications based on the information provided to them (RDCS 1990), but most applications were submitted with a site plan which may or may not identify watercourses. Without any other information on stream presence, RDCS were not necessarily able to recognize when a referral process was required. Generally a referral process was only initiated if the land use activity did not meet current zoning and bylaw requirements; for example, rezoning applications were always submitted for referral to both senior agencies (RDCS 1990) (Figure 6.2a). Referral responses were included in or appended to the RDCS response. In some cases, RDCS advised the proponent to contact senior agencies independently if there were potential fisheries or water concerns (e.g., instream work). These arrangements often left proponents with uncoordinated, sometimes conflicting or inappropriate responses from various levels of government. The urban development referral process in the Comox Valley suffered from the typical problems discussed in Chapter 2 (e.g., delays, inconsistencies, resource limitations, etc.). Meanwhile, fisheries declines indicated that habitat losses resulting from increased population growth and urban development may be becoming more serious. 113 Various types and scales of provincial planning processes have included the Comox Valley area. CORE developed the Vancouver Island regional land use plan to provide direction on resource management strategies for Crown lands. An implementation strategy for this plan, identifying resource management zones and protected areas, is currently being developed (BC MMA 1997); however, most of the land in the Comox Valley is privately owned and considered outside this plan's study area (VIRTT 1996). Other plans have been prepared that more directly address aquatic resource issues. A multistakeholder management strategy was prepared for the Oyster River by various provincial ministries, DFO, and four forestry companies (BC MEP 1988). Recommendations included continuing to use floodplain setbacks to control development, prohibiting mining discharges, encouraging forestry operations to follow guidelines, and prohibiting new water licenses without water storage or mitigation to address low flows. Neither local government nor the public were involved in preparing this strategy, which focused on upstream resource activities, only weakly addressed urbanization issues, and never became a strong management plan. The plan is used by BCE water management in water use licensing. An Oyster River Watershed Management Committee is still used as a forum for discussion. Provincial water quality objectives were also developed for the Oyster River and have been used for river monitoring (BC MELP 1990a). Water allocation plans have been or are being prepared for Campbell River, Black Creek, Courtenay River, and Nile Creek-Trent River by BCE water management (Braybrook 1995, Riddell and Bryden 1996). Based on hydrological and fish presence information, calculations are made on the amount of water available for extraction at different times of the year. The plans provide a framework for issuing water licenses by identifying: (1) streams where no future extraction will be allowed during low flow periods, and (2) application requirements when restricted extraction is allowed. Again, neither local government nor the public were involved in 114 preparing these plans. Water allocation plans are limited by their focus on water use as they do not fully address impacts of urban development on stream health. Even more limited is the Water Use Plan being completed for BC Hydro's Puntledge River facility. It will examine the trade-offs made in operating the facility under its current license compared to other stream users (BC MELP 1996). Other plans have been developed by senior agencies for large floodplains, foreshores, and estuaries, including a foreshore plan for Baynes Sound, an estuary plan for Campbell River, and an estuary plan for the Courtenay River estuary. The latter is currently being completed and will address land use and habitat protection issues in the 200 year floodplain around the estuary. Floodplain mapping has been done by provincial/federal agencies delineating the 200 year floodplain for the lower mainstem of the Oyster, Courtenay, Puntledge, and Tsolum River (BC MELP 1984, 1990b, 1991). RDCS only recently adopted floodplain provisions within their bylaws, and uses floodplain maps in approving development plans and permits. Many of these plans are limited in their ability to protect urban streams; they are either too broad, do not address aquatic resources or urban development, or have not been implemented. Neither referral nor planning processes in the Comox Valley have adequately addressed urban stream issues in the past, and alternative processes have developed at the local level to fill this gap. Local processes in the Comox Valley have been driven by both the local government and the community. RDCS has initiated various processes affecting urban stream protection, including a Community Greenways plan and an anticipated Liquid Waste Management Plan. Recently, RDCS completed a participatory process to define community goals ("Valley Vision" [RDCS 1994, 1995]) which met with mixed public support6. This process was begun in anticipation of a future growth management strategy; however, the BC MMA 115 requested preparation of regional growth strategies be delayed until political boundary issues are addressed in the Comox Valley. The community has expressed concern that problems between RDCS and its municipalities, and the coordination of senior agencies and their responsiveness to local needs were affecting the ability of existing processes to protect and enhance the local environment (RDCS 1994). Various community groups exist to champion watershed and urban stream issues (Box 6-B). These groups involve the public in both decision making (in a consultative role) and action (through stream inventory and restoration efforts). One local group is currently completing a Box 6-B. Example of Community Groups Comox Valley Environmental Council => Coordination of local environmental groups Comox Valley Forestry Committee => Monitor and improve private logging practices Comox Valley Lands in Trust: => Land trust management Comox Valley Project Watershed Society => Protection, restoration, inventory, monitoring, education Comox Valley Round Table => Land use planning issues discussed by multiple stakeholders Comox Valley Watershed Assembly => Open citizen forum for all watershed issues => Resolves problems at a watershed level so resources may be used sustainably => Creates problem-solving teams Millard Creek Dippers => Stewardship, monitoring, and restoration of Millard and Piercy Creek Tsolum River Watershed Protection Society: => River protection and restoration from: CVWA and CVPWS 1996a, b; CVWA 1995 watershed management plan for the Millard-Piercy River drainage that they hope will provide recommendations that regulatory agencies and communities can implement. One of the local programs that has evolved in the Comox Valley is the pilot initiative used as a case study for this thesis. This pilot initiative falls within a unique period in the evolution discussed in this section and Chapter 2, being neither strictly a referral, planning or local process, but rather a process that builds on each of these. Public concerns with the Valley Vision process were expressed at community meetings to discuss the draft OCP 116 6.2 Design of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 6.2.1 Towards an Agreement In 1989, DFO formed an intergovernmental Coho Steering Committee to address declines in wild stocks of coho salmon (DFO 1992). This Committee identified strategies for rebuilding stocks that emphasized integrated habitat management and harvest rate reductions. Their final report recommended, amongst other measures, initiation of a pilot project that incorporated cooperative watershed management principles, community stewardship, and better habitat information at the municipal level. These recommendations became part of the Strait of Georgia Coho Rebuilding Plan, implemented by another committee of federal and provincial fisheries staff (SGCRC 1993). This Plan emphasized the establishment of effective working relationships with regional districts, local communities and councils, the public, and resource stakeholders (DFO et al. 1995). The Comox Valley Habitat Pilot Project was initiated as part of the habitat component of this Plan in 1993, as per the original objectives of the Coho Steering Committee (parallel activities addressed harvesting and other components). Some objectives of this Pilot Project included (SGCRC 1993): • "organize available base mapping and identify salmon and trout habitat"; • "prepare a general land status and development overview" (including describing aquatic habitat at a land planning scale appropriate for regional and municipal planning); • "cooperate in watershed and land planning forums" (with the intent of developing local partnerships to reinforce habitat goals); • encourage "stream stewardship, getting everyone on side" (including preparation of the Stream Stewardship Guide (Chapter 2) and assistance to Project Watershed); and • "evaluate the Pilot Project" (including the degree to which municipalities are using new habitat guidelines and land development processes, and if there has been a reduction or increase in the number of habitat referrals in the Comox Valley). 117 The case study, discussed in more detail in following sections, was one of the pilot initiatives under the Comox Valley Habitat Pilot Project. 6.2.2 The Concept The intergovernmental partnership agreement for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas in the Comox Valley ("the pilot initiative") occurs as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DFO (Executive Director, Habitat and Enhancement Branch, Pacific Region), BCE (Regional Director, Nanaimo), and RDCS. The MOU outlines the purpose, term, liability, signatories, objectives, process framework, and financial issues that define the partnership. Copies of the 1995 and 1997 agreements are provided in Appendix C. The MOU was originally signed as a two-year pilot initiative (July 1995 to July 1997) between DFO, BCE, and RDCS with respect to aquatic habitat. Under this initiative, RDCS assumed more responsibility for assessing and addressing the impacts of urban development on aquatic habitat. The geographic area covered by the MOU included Electoral Area A, B, C, and part of D (Figure 6.1). Nearby municipalities (Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland) were not involved; however, the Electoral Areas are significantly larger than the land base under municipal jurisdiction within the Comox Valley. The boundaries of the MOU were selected for ecological reasons (i.e., they roughly encompass Oyster River to Deep Bay watersheds), political reasons (i.e., they follow Electoral Areas, each one having a political representative on the regional board), and social reasons (i.e., the valley is generally centred around Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland) (DFO et al. 1995). 6.2.3 Overall Purpose and Objectives The purpose of the pilot initiative was 118 "to improve the existing system of reviewing development proposals for environmental conservation" (MOU 1995) by developing and implementing a new process to ensure protection of aquatic and fish habitats during the review of development proposals. According to the MOU, this purpose was needed because the existing referral process was inefficient in its demand of time and resources, and ineffective in the support it provided to local government and the protection it provided to streams. In support of this purpose, objectives were defined in the MOU. Stated objectives addressed process-oriented components, including (MOU 1995): • "increase trust among the signatories"; • "replace existing agency-by-agency referral approach"; • "achieve the benefits of collaboration"; • "boost the effective use of resources"; • "result in sharing of information and technical support"; and • "develop a resource database". Other objectives addressed the operational framework, requiring that it: • "use applicable agreed-upon guidelines, criteria and standards"; • "include a dispute resolution mechanism to address any unresolved conflicts"; • "use existing legislation"; and • "result in no increased costs to any signatory". 119 6.2.4 Roles and Responsibilities Roles and responsibilities of the partners were loosely defined in the MOU. The RDCS planning department played a central role; general responsibilities included reviewing development proposals for aquatic habitat concerns, coordinating the review process, using aquatic habitat information in land use planning, updating existing aquatic habitat information, and providing public access to this information. DFO and BCE played a technical advisory role; general responsibilities included providing and updating aquatic habitat information, providing training and technical advisory support, and participating more directly in the review of development proposals when necessary. 6.2.5 Key Components and Activities The first component of the pilot initiative was to provide aquatic habitat information to RDCS in a format that met their needs. Activities within this component included the provision of a biophysical database delineating environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) and review of this database by appropriate agencies, updating of cadastral (i.e., land use) information, and ongoing identification, verification, and inclusion of new biophysical information. The MOU specified that information updates should involve individuals or NGOs with valuable information to contribute. The database was to be used by RDCS in land use planning and decision making, and made accessible to the community. The second component of the pilot initiative was to develop a new process for reviewing development proposals. The details of this process were not specifically defined within the MOU, but activities included (Appendix C): • development and use of guidelines to facilitate the review process by RDCS; • frequent and bimonthly meetings between partner agencies; 120 • use of a joint dispute resolution committee of management level representatives if necessary; • solicitation of community input for key decisions through a forum beyond existing requirements for bylaw adoption; • making meeting decisions a matter of public record and allowing regular review and evaluation by the public; • development of plans to monitor compliance; and • coordination of enforcement efforts. The third component of the pilot initiative was to use new information on ESAs in RDCS land use planning and decision making. 6.3 Implementation of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative 6.3.1 Identification of Environmentally Sensitive Areas Prior to implementation, RDCS, like most local governments, did not have any available biophysical information and relied entirely on senior agencies to ensure aquatic habitat issues were considered in the urban development process. A key component of the Comox Valley pilot initiative was the provision of information on aquatic ESAs to RDCS in a format that facilitated review of development proposals and proactive land use planning. ESA identification was a component of DFO's Comox Valley Habitat Pilot Project and efforts were already underway to develop this product before the pilot initiative was finalized. So when the MOU was signed in July 1995, a biophysical database in the form of the Comox-Strathcona Sensitive Habitat Atlas was ready for use (DFO et al. 1995). Preparation of the Habitat Atlas was primarily a DFO responsibility but also involved BCE, RDCS, the Canadian 121 Wildlife Service (CWS), the provincial Conservation Data Centre (CDC), and private contractors. The ESAs identified were those of concern to these federal and provincial agencies. Activities focused on compiling existing information into a more useful format for local governments rather than collecting new inventory information. Orthophoto base imagery required conversion of existing air photos into electronic files. Orthophotos and BC Terrain Resource Information Mapping (TRIM) files were used to georeference and locate some of the land use and biophysical information in other "layers". A private firm was contracted by DFO to digitize and properly georeference RDCS cadastral maps. Streams were identified from the BC TRIM files, but this source did not include many of the smaller streams in the valley. Consequently, air photo interpretation (by a private contractor) was used to identify some of these streams. Information from the East Coast Vancouver Island Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Project, a separate initiative by BCE, CWS, and the CDC, was also included in the Habitat Atlas. Significant wetland and riparian areas, which are often not denoted in other data sources, were included in this terrestrial inventory. A significant level of effort was required by DFO to ensure these sensitive ecosystems were accurately presented in the Habitat Atlas. Information on coastal resources was compiled and categorized by a private firm contracted by DFO. Finally, fisheries information was taken from the federal/provincial Fisheries Information Summary System (FISS). The final Habitat Atlas map sheets consisted of an orthophoto (i.e., a "true photo-map" [DFO et al. 1995]) backdrop overlain by property lines and the following ESAs (Figure 6.3): • all known streams, rivers, lakes; • available information on fish occurrence; • coastal sensitive areas (e.g., fish spawning, clam beds, etc.); and 122 • provincial sensitive areas (e.g., wetlands). Orthophoto (air photo) background Land Use (regional district cadastral maps) Sensitive Streams (TRIM maps, federal/provincial databases, air photos) , Other Sensitive Areas (ecosystems inventory, coastal sensitive resources) Planning boundaries Figure 6.3 Different information layers of the Habitat Atlas. The Habitat Atlas was presented at a scale of 1:11,000 but more detailed maps and information on some sensitive areas were available from its associated database. All electronic files were made available to RDCS. The following planning boundaries were delineated (DFO et al. 1995; see example in Figure 6.4): • 100 m boundaries around streams identified from BC TRIM maps; • 50 m boundaries around photo-interpreted streams; 123 • 200 m boundaries along shorelines used by major seabird colonies; • 30 m boundaries along shorelines near major seal haul-out areas, clam beds, eelgrass beds and salt marsh estuaries; and • 100 m boundaries along unstable coastal bluffs. These planning boundaries were selected based on discussions amongst the partner agencies, and were designed to act as a warning system of environmental sensitivity for RDCS staff and potential developers and landowners. Various data sources were used to create the Habitat Atlas and the final maps were not extensively groundtruthed; thus, the first version of the Habitat Atlas had some inaccuracies. 6.3.2 Review of Development Proposals As discussed, RDCS used referral processes in the past to incorporate stream protection issues into the development review process. A key component of the Comox Valley pilot initiative was the development of a new process for reviewing development proposals that was more proactive and driven by local government (Figure 6.2b). A general process evolved for reviewing development proposals. Development proposals were submitted to RDCS and the Habitat Atlas was used to identify if the proposal was located within sensitive area planning boundaries. Alternatively, the application identified the presence of a stream that was not included in the Habitat Atlas. In either case, RDCS reviewed the nature of the development and its potential impact to aquatic habitat, and determined whether DFO and/or BCE needed to be involved. If senior agencies had received the development proposal from another source as part of referral processes (e.g., a subdivision application from 125 BC MOTH), RDCS coordinated partner responses. The types of development proposals reviewed from July 1995 to March 1997 included (Table 6.1): • building permits; • development variance permits; • development permits; • Agricultural Land Reserve applications; • floodplain setback applications; • rezoning applications; and • subdivision applications. Various interagency referrals were also reviewed by RDCS under the initiative, including Waste Management Permit, Water Management, and Crown Land Use referrals. An estimated total of 139 development proposals were reviewed from July 1995 to March 1997, based on file information available from RDCS (Table 6.1). Many more counter inquiries and communication with the RDCS building department went unrecorded. Most inquiries were related to development, but RDCS also addressed inquiries related to aquatic habitat issues and fisheries violations; in some cases, these inquiries were still forwarded to DFO or BCE. The Land Development Guidelines and the Stream Stewardship Guide provided RDCS with guidelines to follow, along with the knowledge gained from working with senior agencies. A site visit was usually conducted either with or without a senior agency. If neither DFO nor BCE attended the site visit, RDCS might still contact them to request expert advice if they had concerns about the development proposal following their visit. Once all information was obtained, a response was provided by RDCS to the landowner identifying the conditions that should be met as part of approval. In some cases this response might be provided to the 126 _ X a CO o > c e o .2 o > D) O — g O .52 J? 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TJ co •O — CO CD .•ti CO E co b tr 2 J3 ~ CL 3 CD £ .E c o 5 £ ° ro "g 1 CL (D o < s = CN agency representing the applicant (e.g., BC MOTH in the case of subdivision applications) or decision-making bodies within RDCS for approval (e.g., the Comox Valley Planning Committee or the RDCS regional board). The standard response to landowners was in the form of a letter identifying the sensitive areas that could be impacted by their activities and some general protection measures that could be taken to help prevent or mitigate these impacts. 6.4 Evaluations of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative A brief internal evaluation of various partnership programs was completed by DFO in March 1997. This evaluation was completed to determine the operational effectiveness of and lessons learned from these partnerships, including the Comox Valley pilot initiative. Based on criteria suggested by DFO and an auditing framework for the Habitat Action Plan, the evaluation gave the initiative a score of 75/100 based on its effectiveness in: (1) developing partnerships, (2) encouraging stream stewardship and integrated resource management, (3) levering funds from other sources, (4) sustaining new organizational infrastructures, and (5) improving awareness, protection, and operations (Furlong 1997). A second evaluation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative was completed in March 1997 (Crampton 1997). This evaluation summarized outputs for DFO based on the MOU objectives. 128 7. Application of the Evaluation Framework to the Case Study Chapter 6 described the background to the Comox Valley pilot initiative and how it was implemented. The goal of this thesis is to determine whether this initiative improves existing processes for urban stream protection by evaluating it within the framework built in Chapter 5. To this end, the information obtained from interviewees and other sources is presented in the following sections to answer the questions posed by the evaluation framework. Although the information included in this chapter follows the structure of the evaluation framework, it represents the results obtained from data sources and not the conclusions of the evaluation chapter (Chapter 8). Information from interviewees is referenced in text using confidential interviewee codes. Other information sources are not referenced individually, except for some meeting minutes and other published documents. As discussed in Chapter 5, these multiple sources were used together to identify key points; for example, information on a case example of a specific development may have come from meeting notes, development proposal files, and conversations. All of these sources of information are integrated throughout this chapter. 7.1 Program Design 7.1.1 Clear and Consistent Objectives The Comox Valley pilot initiative evolved from the activities and initiatives outlined in Chapter 6. When it was determined that a partnership agreement between the three levels of government would be initiated, the process of developing an operational framework for this initiative began. Objectives were developed by all of the partner agencies. The overall purpose became "to improve the existing system of reviewing development proposals for environmental conservation" by developing and implementing a new process to ensure protection of aquatic and fish habitats during the review of development proposals (MOU 1995). The common purpose of the three partners was to improve the referral process. Senior agencies generally 129 felt their resources were being stretched and were concerned about future budget cuts. DFO knew that funding sources were only short term, and that new processes needed to reduce federal level of effort and be self sustaining (F1). RDCS felt the referral process was inconsistent and frustrating to work with locally. All partners felt that, regardless of the reasons why, the referral process was not adequately protecting streams. Thus, the purpose of the Comox Valley pilot initiative focused on improving this process. It also focused on fish habitat protection, primarily because DFO led the design of the initiative and RDCS wanted to keep it well defined and achievable. They did not want to assume responsibilities beyond their capability, especially considering it was a pilot effort. "We realized early on in the game when we were drafting it [...] that DFO was concerned solely with fish and fish habitat whereas BCE has much wider mandates. [...] We came to the agreement that we would deal, for a first agreement, only with fish and fish habitat because the regional district board at that time, while they saw the continuing loss of fish and fish habitat as a major issue, they didn't want to bite off anymore than that because they didn't know whether they would be able to handle it."p1 "[RDCS] had to be able to justify that the time that would be involved in environmental planning would not result in a net loss of effectiveness in the land use planning that we have a specific mandate for. The referral response to environmental issues could be cut and that would hopefully weigh out in the long run."L 1 The MOU provided the partners with common objectives to work towards that focused on the initiative's processes (Section 6.2.3). Operational procedures were also described in the MOU. Objectives and procedures were both defined broadly because this type of partnership agreement had never been attempted and nobody knew what would make it work most effectively. "I didn't have a clearly defined vision of what it would look like because I think what it looks like is particular to the Comox Valley - the people and the circumstances."1"1 But when the initiative was first implemented, this purposeful vagueness created problems (M-1). Senior agency staff who wrote the MOU were not the same staff that implemented it. There 130 was a lack of communication in DFO and BCE between management and field staff and consequent uncertainty about what the initiative was working towards (P3). "I really felt like the original MOU was not terribly clear as far as objectives were concerned [...]. There really didn't seem to be a lot of deliverables identified in that original document, so it made it really tough for me being the only person within this office to get a clear sense for what my expectations from that process should be."P 3 Senior agency staff felt if implementing staff had been more directly involved in developing the MOU, these problems might have been addressed (F8). After two years of implementation, the partners seemed to have a consistent understanding of the overall purpose and objectives, although their individual perceptions determined what they felt was the focus. For example, some felt that the primary objective was to work together as levels of government, others felt that it was to protect fish habitat, and still others felt that it was to streamline the process. Some interviewees were concerned that the focused purpose limited any potential for success beyond that endpoint (F6)(P4) and that solutions other than streamlining the process might emerge if the purpose were broader (F6). "I didn't think creating yet another layer of bureaucracy or another table where everything goes really went far enough towards this notion of being self sustained and being at a local level. [...] In that sense, the MOU I thought fell short of where I'd hoped it would have been. But any start is a good thing, is a move in the right direction."F1 "The MOU states that it was primarily here as a means of making the referral process more effective. That was always one of the criticisms of many people who looked at it was that the MOU wasn't designed necessarily to improve the protection of fish habitat. Just because you streamline the bureaucratic process doesn't necessarily provide better protection of fish habitat. " F 6 For example, if the expressed intent of the initiative were to protect fish habitat using the best means possible, perhaps efforts would be targeted towards expanding the referral process instead of towards developing partnerships with local governments. Others commented that the initiative had moved away from trying to achieve a new way of doing business (e.g., 131 developing DPAs and other local regulations), towards adopting only those changes necessary to comply with the MOU (F6). "I think we would agree now that we are really developing a better way of doing referrals jointly. From my perspective, that's what I would see has happened. [...] It's a better way of speaking with a single voice, through [RDCS]. In as much as that process has changed and the regional district understands our concerns, I think the objectives have been changed, but only changed temporarily. I think the long term objective is still to generate these development permit areas."F4 Despite these criticisms and different perceptions, staff recognized that the Comox Valley pilot initiative evolved from a need to protect fish habitat (Chapter 6) and that this was the fundamental purpose of their work. "I feel like we've got a much clearer concept of what we want to do now, and it's more holistic too because it includes other facets of habitat management."P3 "Fundamentally, it was to protect fish habitat in land use planning. [...] By doing so, we are also accomplishing a goal of working together as governments, getting the public involved in the process, that was a very important goal -increasing the information and knowledge of the public base and of other organizations so that we would all understand."1"2 Most interviewees saw the MOU and its objectives as a minimum to be achieved, a starting point from which to grow (F3)(03)(01). For example, one interviewee felt the initiative had begun to move beyond just streamlining the referral process into more watershed-level concerns. "I think [the MOU] is just an agreement for sharing information and to cooperate however they can. I'm not sure what the limitations of it are. It's limited probably on paper but when people are talking [...] there's usually a synergy they create."0 1 The MOU lacked any objectives related to evaluating the initiative and monitoring compliance and/or effectiveness. The MOU did require monitoring plans be developed and a public evaluation of the initiative be completed (MOU 1995), but neither was done. BCE staff in particular felt that monitoring was missing (P2). 132 7.1.2 Adequate Rationale The rationale of the Comox Valley pilot initiative grew directly from the recognition that there might be a better way of doing business than through referrals. Local governments are well placed to assume more responsibility for urban stream protection because of their jurisdiction over urban development. The rationale assumed that with more responsibility for urban stream protection, RDCS could help fill administrative cracks, reduce senior agency workload, and achieve better protection with land use planning and development control mechanisms to prevent impacts before they occur (P1)(F5). All staff recognized the importance of RDCS's central role and understood the rationale behind the initiative. RDCS deals exclusively with urban development and is able to focus on that activity. BCE and DFO must protect habitat from the impacts of multiple activities, and they lack any planning capability (F6)(F7). "Particularly now that [the RDCS Planning Department] is divided up into geographic areas, staff really begin to know the local streams [...], the local developers, and the local landowners. If you have a bad actor historically, you can flag them quickly. If you know that you're likely to have a problem stream, you can watch it a little closer. That kind of thing just wasn't possible with the senior levels of government. They could just never have enough staff to do that, and their knowledge was at a different level. They knew where the critical species were not the bad actors."L1 "We have regulatory authority that the senior levels of government don't have. We can do things in terms of controlling things on the ground. [...] Local government is in general the one that's in a better position to be proactive."1-1 The rationale proved to be difficult to put into practice because of the procedures provided in the MOU. It was expected that the rationale (i.e., that RDCS assume more responsibility) would mold processes into a suitable format. Over time, implementation began to reflect the rationale as RDCS became more involved in urban stream protection and integrated stream issues earlier on in the development process. 133 7.2 Participation and Support 7.2.1 Appropriate Participants The three signatories to the MOU were those agencies with the most applicable authority and responsibility for urban development and fish habitat protection, and represented all three levels of government. The pilot initiative focused on improving administrative processes, thus there was less of a role for special interest groups (Section 7.2.4). But other agencies that affect urban development and stream protection in the Comox Valley were not involved. Their noninvolvement was not necessarily exclusionary; rather, the signatories decided to move forward with those participants most interested in the initiative at the time. BC MOTH is currently responsible for subdivision development in regional districts. Staff repeatedly noted that more involvement of or a better understanding by BC MOTH could have avoided some of the misperceptions this agency had about the pilot initiative (F8). Some interviewees suggested BC MMA, who helped during initial drafting of the MOU, should have been more involved since the initiative directly affected local government responsibilities (F2). BC MAF, who did not allow the designation of DPAs on ALR land in the draft Comox Valley OCP (Section 7.8.1), may have been more supportive if they had been more involved in the pilot initiative (F4). It initially appeared as though BCE waste and water management should also have been more direct participants. Recently, BCE Nanaimo has tried to integrate waste, water, and habitat referral responses (P4). Because the Comox Valley pilot initiative only included fish habitat issues, decisions were initially made by RDCS that affected decisions made by other BCE units and caused confusion. But although these other agencies could have been more involved in the pilot initiative, the partners recognized that this would have meant more difficult implementation. 134 "One of the things that became evident very quickly was that you can't separate fish and fish habitat protection from all the other things that BCE does. There were a number of occasions where we became involved in issues that impacted on things like waste management and water management. That was a shortcoming of the agreement in that it would have in retrospect probably been better to involve all the functions of BCE. But I think in retrospect if I was doing it again I would do it the same way because I don't think that we would have ever got a workable agreement in a reasonable length of time if we had tried to cover off the entire BCE's mandate. It would have become far too complex and complicated."p1 "At least to set these things off, [the MOU] was a good, three-way start. Because as you add partners it only gets more complicated."™ "We've discovered that we need to convince other governments, other levels of government or other agencies of government, that we as a regional district are in fact the authority now, we've had some difficulties there. But that doesn't require a signature on an MOU to get that. I think MOUs should be limited to the partners that are sharing the responsibility and authority [...] and everybody else is an observer."1"1 Over time informal arrangements developed between staff and other BCE units to increase awareness and support, decrease administrative confusion, and access any information other agencies can provide. None of the staff saw an urgent need to expand the initiative to include more participants because of its focus on urban development and aquatic habitat protection. Neither did there appear to be any agency waiting to be included as a direct signatory to the MOU. 7.2.2 Supportive Participants DFO, BCE, and RDCS designed the pilot initiative to benefit all of the partners and gain their support. The result satisfied staff, who were all supportive of the initiative. RDCS staff in particular were very supportive. BCE and DFO staff were initially less supportive because they had not been involved in designing the pilot initiative and had not been adequately informed about its objectives and tasks (M-1). Senior agency staff became supportive over time. "The three partners that are involved, as time went by, especially the field people in the local governments, [...] really loved it. They learned and tried to use it, apply it, which is what the whole point was."F 2 135 Beyond staff directly involved, most staff within BCE and DFO were probably unaware of the Comox Valley pilot initiative (F5)(F6). During initial implementation, BCE in Nanaimo had little interest in the initiative, apparently because of a lack of communication with and involvement of this office during design. Staff from BCE in Victoria were involved in background activities and helped develop the MOU, yet the pilot initiative was really addressing administrative processes in Nanaimo (i.e., because of location). Some BCE staff in Nanaimo were involved in developing the final language of the MOU, but management questioned whether this initiative would fit with other BCE operations since it only addressed habitat referral issues (P1)(P4). BCE was concurrently trying to integrate referral processes so that waste, water, and habitat issues were addressed together. Over time, informal linkages within BCE developed to address potential conflicts and confusion with water and waste jurisdictions, and other units came to understand the initiative was not working at cross purposes. BCE technical staff became very supportive, felt more positive about their jobs, and felt they were achieving better habitat protection (P3)(P2). At the management level, BCE became supportive of the initiative as one step towards improving watershed protection (P4). "There's a lot of support within [BCE] Fish and Wildlife I think, but outside of that I think historically there's been a lot of misconception about what we do. [...] Our pollution prevention people and our water management people had some real concerns about what the MOU meant to them. [...] I think that they felt that it meant a loss of control."P3 DFO were supportive of the Comox Valley pilot initiative from the beginning, particularly within DFO regional headquarters in Vancouver. They provided much of the initial funding in an effort to create self-sustaining processes at the community level to address future budget reductions (F1). Area offices on Vancouver Island were less supportive. Some DFO staff in Nanaimo were 136 highly supportive and involved in background activities and development of the Habitat Atlas, but management staff in Nanaimo were less convinced that the Comox Valley pilot initiative would improve habitat protection (F1). DFO Nanaimo was also much less involved in developing the MOU, yet staff at DFO Nanaimo and Campbell River became responsible for implementation. DFO technical staff became supportive of the pilot initiative once they understood what it involved. Through implementation, management staff at DFO Nanaimo began to recognize that the initiative strengthened the habitat protection process, but did not feel the results of this improved process were evident and wanted the pilot initiative to continue moving forward with its promises (e.g., establishment of DPAs) (F4). "I think that the level of support [within DFO] is probably fairly high. There is just sort of a general recognition at all levels, from Ottawa, to Victoria, right down to the community level, that government agencies and local government have to start working together. And part of that is being driven by the continuous round of budget cuts that we face all the time."F 6 The signing of the MOU in July 1995 reflected some degree of political support for the pilot initiative within each agency, but the most obvious political support was locally. The RDCS regional board was supportive of an initiative for the Comox Valley that was not beyond their capabilities. "I was very surprised at how receptive the politicians were to the whole idea of getting involved in environmental planning. Their concern was the dollars [...]. When I assured them I felt that the cost was minimal and that we were in fact getting something in return [digitized cadastral maps, Atlas, other instruments], it seemed to be a fair tradeoff from their part."L1 This political commitment to the initiative and urban stream protection has not really been tested; there have been few large development decisions and DPAs have not been created in most of the valley (F4). Once the DPAs are in place, the board will be more actively involved in decision making. Political changes in local government politics or bureaucracy could affect the Comox Valley pilot initiative at any time. All governments want to get reelected and may not 137 remain committed to protecting fish habitat (P1); reorganization within senior agencies can sometimes have the same effect (F7). "There is maybe a lot less emphasis on [local partnerships] right now within our own department simply because programs like the FRAP and HAP have terminated. The people that were involved in those programs, sort of creating change, are now back within the bureaucracy."™ "Within DFO there was no commitment or vision, corporately, to change. There was tremendous dynamics going on [...] as to whether there was a real genuine need to find and develop new ways of doing business. [...] There was certainly not, in my view, at the deputy ministerial or senior Ottawa level, ever any real leadership or direction."F1 Whether other agencies were supportive of the Comox Valley pilot initiative is unlikely. Agencies involved in urban development (e.g., BC MOTH) and exposed to the initiative's new processes questioned their benefit because of the perceived confusion and added bureaucracy. However, these other agencies have such a specific mandate (e.g., BC MOTH's focus on transportation infrastructure) that they often question the habitat protection process regardless (L3). When the original (1995) partnership agreement expired in July 1997, all three partners worked together to develop a follow-up agreement. With some refinement (i.e., inclusion of wildlife habitat and a minor but recognized role for local environmental NGOs), the second MOU was signed by all partners by December 1997 (MOU 1997). After two years of working together, the partners committed to work together for another two years; this is testimony of their support for the pilot initiative "There's been no backing off on [RDCS's] part. We signed the new MOU literally without debate. It's a very accepted part of what we do." L 1 7.2.3 Local Ownership and Commitment All of the staff, particularly within RDCS, had a personal commitment to the initiative and its success. 138 "I think one of the things that makes the MOU work is a personal commitment on the part of the people involved - all of us." L 3 The key implementor of the Comox Valley pilot initiative was the RDCS planning department, where leadership was a key factor. Even at the political level, there was little debate about resigning the new MOU in 1997. However, other decisions made by the regional board made their commitment inadvertently falter (i.e., their decision not to adopt the Comox Valley OCP meant that DPAs were not established). Support and ownership by local government for this type of initiative is often the limiting factor (P1). Local will gave birth to the Comox Valley pilot initiative; without encouragement from RDCS, it would not have begun (F1)(F6). At that time, RDCS wanted to be more proactive in land use planning and improve their reputation in the community (L2). Their level of support and interest was one of the reasons why they were approached for the pilot initiative. DFO recognized an interested local government was needed to improve the likelihood of success and demonstrate how this type of initiative could work. "It has been effective [in the Comox Valley] because we haven't had any concerns. But each regional district has a personality. I don't think you can just snap these out because each group you deal with has a personality, it has a political will, it has people with different personalities involved who are willing more or willing less to protect fish habitat."F4 RDCS management strongly directed design of the MOU, RDCS staff were involved in developing the Habitat Atlas, and they have all remained committed and supportive of the initiative. "The regional district and their planning staff put in a lot more effort into making it work than either of the senior governments. [...] They were much more enthusiastic, both at the political level and the working level, about it. They much more owned that agreement."P1 Local government is empowered if they are given support and knowledge and responsibility, all of which this initiative provided to RDCS. The results of RDCS ownership and commitment to the pilot initiative are seen in their support for its outputs. 139 "It's easier to support the decision if it's yours. Before it was ours, our recommendations, our insistence, now it's theirs."P4 Outside of the local bureaucracy, there was little community ownership over the pilot initiative because it was primarily an interagency tool. However, local environmental NGOs felt that more community ownership would be beneficial (01). Local environmental NGOs were able to affect decision making as they began providing new and more accurate information to help RDCS and improve the Habitat Atlas. 7.2.4 Involved and Supportive Public It is not unexpected that public involvement in the Comox Valley pilot initiative was contentious given the degree of community activism in the area (Chapter 6). The MOU did not include a particular role for the public in its new development review process. However, it did recognize that future processes might include a public cooperative problem-solving mechanism (MOU 1995). Meeting minutes were to be made available to the public, and a public review and evaluation of the initiative was to be completed. Neither were done and the public was never involved in decision making beyond that provided for in the Municipal Act. Environmental NGOs were not involved in design of the MOU although they did provide minimal input into the Habitat Atlas. During implementation, these groups (in particular Project Watershed) became involved in the initiative as an information resource through informal working arrangements. At times, RDCS requested specific information from them, and they also provided new and more accurate information to RDCS for inclusion in the Habitat Atlas. Some development proposals reviewed under the pilot initiative were located alongside fish-bearing streams identified by local environmental NGOs, where no previous information had been available. 140 "That's a very legitimate way that [community groups] could directly influence the decisions that were made in the MOU, by providing better information."91 There was a history of distrust between RDCS and community groups in the Comox Valley. RDCS's involvement with local environmental NGOs increased under the pilot initiative and their relationship improved (L3)(L1)(02); for example, some community groups collected data for the concurrent Community Greenways plan. "If it wasn't for the MOU, we wouldn't be doing the work that we're doing. [...] What I've found from the start is, at least on the planning level over at the regional district, there's a lot of enthusiasm for working with us." 0 2 There was no change in DFO or BCE's relationship with local environmental NGOs that could be solely attributed to this initiative. DFO staff noted that RDCS's increased contact with community groups might have reduced some of DFO's workload associated with dealing with these groups. Some local environmental NGOs were dissatisfied with their level of involvement in the initiative, but these concerns related more broadly to the public's role in local land use decision making in BC. "[Frustrations with] the development review process - the lack of information that's provided to the community on the impact that the project would have on the existing sensitive environments and sensitive areas beforehand, before the project is actually brought to a hearing. There isn't sort of a place to go to find out information about your local community and become a defendant of the project until it's almost too late. [...] The Atlas is providing that information."01 Initially, some local groups wanted a stronger role and recognition (M-2). But RDCS felt the administrative process addressed by the pilot initiative was an inappropriate place for public involvement, and questioned the amount of decision-making ability that a special interest group should have and whether they could be accountable to the entire community. RDCS felt strongly about this at the political and staff level. Power issues were evident. "The fear was that you were going to create a non governmental organization that appeared to have more authority and more jurisdiction than the legally constituted local government. The citizen group certainly wanted that [...] they made it clear that they wanted to be in charge. Equally clearly on the regional 141 district's side was that it would be a cold day in a hot place before any NGO was going to have more authority."1"1 Meanwhile, some DFO units supported development of a community-based decision-making body, and provided funding to environmental NGOs who saw a role for themselves in local governance. But DFO and BCE staff agreed with RDCS's position once the initiative was implemented. "There was, we felt, adequate public involvement opportunity in the land planning and resource allocation process. What we were involved in was strictly a bureaucratic decision process that we were trying to streamline."P1 "I believe that it would be nice to have some public involvement in our process but [...] when we start talking about stewardship and getting stewardship groups, it is very difficult to have a person or a group represent the public."F4 "There's a recognition now by DFO of the kind of place and the kind of role that NGOs can effectively play in the process. [...] They've now turned to local government as being the regulating authority and NGOs as being the 'in the field', eyes and ears and stream protectors and some of the other things that they couldn't do in any case. [...] It's a good mix, a good balance now."L1 RDCS continued to feel community groups wanted more of a regulatory and decision-making role, but this was not necessarily true. BCE met with some of these groups to discuss their role, at which time they seemed satisfied with their involvement but still wanted a more direct role (P3). One group felt the best role they could play was in information gathering, dissemination, education, restoration, monitoring, and they supported the initiative and its direction (01/02). The level of general public involvement in the Comox Valley pilot initiative was minimal. A news release was prepared when it first began, but the general public was likely not aware of it unless they became involved as landowners. Some developers were aware of the pilot initiative, and appreciated receiving stream habitat information earlier on and working with a more coordinated review process (03)(P1)(05). "The MOU between fisheries and regional district and environment is certainly something that I supported all the way along as being something for the 142 business that would allow us to get ultimately closer to a one-stop shopping concept for development purposes rather than ricocheting around." 0 3 Partners heard positive and negative feedback from landowners, but RDCS felt people were generally supportive because stream presence was not used as a means to restrict land use. "We've had people calling up and criticizing the MOU because [...] they perceive it as being a slow down in the process. By the same token, an individual can come along and think it's better because he's had to go to one office. [...] I haven't heard any strong pro or con."F 8 The availability of the Habitat Atlas at RDCS meant there was more opportunity for stream habitat information to reach and empower the general public, who more often approach their local government (01). The 1997 version of the MOU included the potential for a public cooperative problem-solving mechanism by suggesting that such involvement could be facilitated by presentations at quarterly meetings (MOU 1997). Project Watershed and RDCS were also developing a separate agreement outlining their relationship. This letter of agreement could allow more dissemination of the information in the Habitat Atlas, and could also give Project Watershed and associated groups more credibility and criteria for accountability. 7.3 Resources 7.3.1 Financial Resources Provided The availability of financial resources was one of the key factors that ignited implementation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative (F1). The Habitat Atlas represented the largest contribution of financial resources (from DFO with assistance by BCE and Environment Canada/Canadian Wildlife Service), valued at $84,000 (MOU 1995). Available funding determined the amount of information included in the Habitat Atlas and thus partially determined the initiative's scope. RDCS contributed financial resources to support public access to the Habitat Atlas (valued at $4,500) and update cadastral maps (valued at $15,000/year). RDCS also received funding 143 from the provincial Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) to cover additional labour costs. The funding and "gifts" (i.e., the Habitat Atlas) received by RDCS made the pilot initiative less politically contentious (L1). "[Financial resources were] essential to its inception; without it the local government wouldn't have bought on. It was essential to the attempt at forming public involvement in the area. Without the seed money there wouldn't be a little MOU tree."F 2 Financial resources provided for start-up were considered short-term costs to achieve long-term gains. Funding and support for the pilot initiative came from the federal Habitat Action Plan which was created to address anticipated budget cuts by developing new processes and tools that would require no additional funding and hopefully decrease DFO's level of effort (F1). DFO management questioned whether outcomes of the initiative were a result of financial resources provided by DFO (i.e., Habitat Atlas), or whether the same outcomes would be observed if less money had been spent and staff had focused on only improving review processes (F4). Parallel to anticipated shortfalls in federal budgets, large provincial budget cuts occurred during implementation of this initiative. The direct effect of provincial budget cuts was minimal; the same staff continued working on the pilot initiative (P4). Indirect financial resources were also provided through additional staff labour. Many staff could not compare their workload to before implementation because of other concurrent internal changes (e.g., change in position, change in responsibilities, etc.). The workload of RDCS staff undoubtedly increased. DFO and BCE staff felt their workload generally remained unchanged because they had less paperwork but more verbal communication; however, there were conflicting opinions within BCE about costs. "I don't think it's costing us money. I think it's probably saving us money because if you look at all of the different types of review processes that they look at [...], I only look at a handful of those, the ones that are problematic or the ones where they need some feedback on their decisions."P3 144 "What we're doing because of the MOU is putting more resources towards that area [...] than are really available if you were to balance it out across all the regional districts [...]. So we've said there are some potential long term gains here for us."P 4 Because the Comox Valley pilot initiative focused on habitat protection, BCE could not benefit from any internal coordination with water and waste management, although informal linkages developed to address this problem. BCE staff predicted the initiative would be less costly in total to the province if it was more comprehensive and integrated BCE's mandates (P4)(P1). The recent availability of funding to the region and for urban stream protection increased public involvement. For example, streamkeepers groups would have collected less information without funding from USHP and DFO, and there would be little access to local information without USHP (P3). But the availability of financial resources caused problems as well. For example, DFO supported development of the Comox Valley pilot initiative with RDCS while also funding local environmental NGOs who were perceived by RDCS to be at cross purposes. At the time, RDCS felt DFO threatened the potential success of the pilot initiative by decreasing the amount of money and resources made available to it (F1). All of the partner agencies agreed that if the pilot initiative required a continued input of financial resources, it would probably not survive because of the limited funding sources available. The partners felt the review processes in place could continue over time with or without funding since a working relationship had been achieved by the initial injection of financial resources. "I'm not sure that it's going to cost anymore to do it this new way we've developed. In fact, I think in the long run if we can expand it to other mandates of BCE and get everybody really behind this kind of agreement I think it should cost less per development or per application."p1 "If it stayed at this level of funding, it would be fine. It doesn't need an increase funding in order to be able to function in a really effective way. I would say the 145 level we're operating at now is sort of the minimum. You couldn't go below it and do anything effective."1"3 "[The future of the MOU] will be OK in the Comox Valley because it has been started, but for those places where there hasn't been one started, I think it'll become much more difficult to get off the ground."F 6 However, the Habitat Atlas would need additional funding for updating information. The Habitat Atlas remained DFO's responsibility, but over time some responsibility might be passed to RDCS. RDCS supported ongoing improvement of the Habitat Atlas, but recognized that if responsibility shifted to RDCS, updating might be less of a priority if budgets became more limited (L1). "I can't see the regional district producing [the Atlas] themselves. They're too busy. And if we don't have funding it doesn't get done. So [resources] are very critical. But I would also note that we've invested a lot of time and effort into the thing already and it's not going to take that much money to keep it going."F 7 "The Atlas in order to be a valuable tool needs to constantly be updated which involves some resources."F1 7.3.2 Useful and Complete Information Provided Prior to implementation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative, development proposals were often missing information and made the referral process difficult (F8). Habitat has often been lost because it is not mapped, its presence is unknown, or it is not mapped at an appropriate scale (F7). The provision of information resources (i.e., the Habitat Atlas) was an objective of the MOU (MOU 1995). DFO, with help from BCE, produced the Habitat Atlas, and has been responsible for producing a second version as well. RDCS updated cadastral mapping for both versions. The Habitat Atlas improved existing information sources for decision making and provided a more complete set of information than previously available (P3). Small streams not included in BC TRIM files or the federal/provincial Fisheries Information Summary System were interpreted from air photos and included in the Habitat Atlas. Significant wetland and riparian areas were 146 also included. Map sheets were considered a more appropriate scale for incorporating land use planning and fisheries information, largely due to RDCS's involvement in design. DFO originally proposed a 1:50,000 scale but RDCS noted this would be unusable for their jobs. RDCS also informed senior agencies about the level of detail in stream data they needed to make land use decisions (L2). Staff felt the Habitat Atlas enabled more proactive protection by presenting ESA information before development began and by facilitating the creation of DPAs (which must be mapped). RDCS in particular felt the Habitat Atlas was essential and met their needs (L3)(L1)(L2). "I don't think the MOU would have materialized at all [without the Habitat Atlas] because it was the whole centrepiece of how the regional district did the job." F 1 "If we are going to get into an MOU here, and the whole idea is that local government is going to take an active role, then we need the information on which to take this active role."L1 "With the Atlas there, people acquiring land for whatever purpose [...] at least now can look at it and say, 'it doesn't take much to figure out what I have planned will integrate or will not integrate with the Atlas'. From a reference perspective, it's a good document."03 In a sense, the Habitat Atlas increased workloads because there were "more" streams identified for protection. But without the Habitat Atlas, RDCS would have spent more time on each application, and senior agencies would have been more involved in providing information (F8)(L3). "Without the Habitat Atlas [...], I think we'd just end up spending a lot more time trying to figure out what was out there rather than trying to figure out what's the best way to protect it. I think the job would take three times as long because you would be researching every application that you get. And there's varieties of level of information out there. Some watersheds are really well documented and some aren't documented at all." L 3 "I'm actually quite happy to say that they refer to the [Habitat Atlas] first now, it's the first thing that's considered in anything that comes across the counter. It has become an absolutely essential tool."1 2 147 Despite its strengths, most interviewees recognized and some criticized the level of precision and completeness in the Habitat Atlas. "We do know that we are probably missing 50% of the fish habitats even at that map scale. So the question I ask is [...] isn't there some point where it's so inaccurate at such a cost that we say we're not going to do that [...]. The map isn't for us and it has helped them. So I guess we needed to provide a map."F 4 "This new information is a far better scale, it's photo-interpreted and some of it's groundtruthed now, but there's still all kinds of gaps and problems."P3 • The intent was that, whenever necessary, more precise information could be collected by developers if they challenged setbacks based on the broad level of information provided by the Habitat Atlas (P1). Some DFO staff felt it was unwarranted to use additional funding to ensure the first version of the Habitat Atlas was perfect since it had not yet proven to be useful (F3). Other DFO staff initially expressed strong concerns about the inaccuracies and usefulness of the Habitat Atlas (F7)(F1)(F3). There was some concern that an incomplete and approximate Habitat Atlas may be mistakenly perceived by landowners to be accurate. All staff understood its limitations but still found it very useful, although they sometimes found it hard to locate themselves (e.g., no road or stream names). "We immediately saw room for improvement, we saw room for continuation of the project. We saw where continued collection of data and improved data would enhance the product that was already in place. It's a good start but it's not the end by any means.' ,L2 "[The Atlas] is doing everything it's supposed to. With the idea that there are limitations of course, it doesn't have every last piece of stream on it, it doesn't have every wetland on it, it doesn't have every sensitive resource on it. I think everyone knows it's the first cut, it's the best attempt to get everything together in one area, but everyone has to know that it doesn't have everything. Inadvertently, the incompleteness and imprecision of the Habitat Atlas created a role for local streamkeepers groups in groundtruthing and gathering new information. Limited local information was included in the first version of the Habitat Atlas, but the second version was intended to incorporate more information from RDCS and local groups. "There's definitely a need for more information. When people come to the meetings they feel sometimes that they're being washed over with limited information just to push the development through. So if credible information is provided based on what is known about the area and the sensitivity of that area then people will use it however they want, the developers will use it however they want. [...] But that information set needs to be built up a lot stronger."01 Local information from streamkeepers groups was used by RDCS even though it was not included in the first version of the Habitat Atlas. In the past, DFO and BCE only rarely used local groups as an information resource in the development review process (F5). Since implementation, the amount of local information used in the review process and included in the Habitat Atlas has increased, giving more credibility to the data (L1). But other information sources besides local environmental NGOs (e.g., First Nations) were not included (F6). RDCS recognized that the inclusion of local information would make the Habitat Atlas more accurate and credible (L1). Processes evolved between RDCS, Project Watershed, and DFO to ensure new information would be captured in future versions of the Habitat Atlas (01/02). RDCS was the central repository for information gathered from site visits and streamkeeper initiatives and Project Watershed verified information collected by community groups or individuals. All new information was provided to DFO by RDCS and noted in a working copy of the Habitat Atlas. An annual update of the Habitat Atlas was desired by DFO and RDCS but a second version was still not complete in November 1997. RDCS was intended to assume more responsibility for maintaining the Habitat Atlas, but anticipated they would need ongoing cooperation with senior agencies to ensure data validity (L2). The level of effort to update the Habitat Atlas was predicted to be minimal, although the orthophoto backdrop, despite being visually useful, might make future updating more costly for RDCS (L1). Besides issues of accurateness and completeness, there were other criticisms of the Habitat Atlas. For example, the planning boundaries could be drawn from the floodplain edge instead of the stream centre (F7) and some ESA information from CWS was too vague (L3). The Habitat Atlas also did not support watershed-level protection since information and planning boundaries focused on developed streamside areas (P4). 149 7.3.3 Training and Expert Advice Provided One of the objectives of the MOU was that the new process result in a sharing of technical support (MOU 1995). The type of support was not specified, although it was recognized that a shared technical and advisory process would be necessary and would likely decrease as RDCS gained experience. Specific training initiatives were not required. During initial implementation, a concerted effort was made by BCE Victoria to provide overview information and attend site visits so that local staff were trained on the ground. "Why sign an MOU if you're then left swinging in the wind. Somebody's got to hold your staffs hand and [BCE Victoria] was prepared to do that."F 3 "I don't think one week [of training] was enough. I don't think that the time that BCE habitat protection people or DFO fisheries officers can donate to going out on field trips with the local regional district planners is enough. But I didn't hear any complaints that we weren't trying to do our best. [...] I think we did a reasonable job of providing the training and the expertise at that time. It wasn't totally adequate - no. But I think it was a lot more than they would have got had there been no agreement."p1 Although they were highly appreciative of the ongoing expert advice they received from BCE and DFO staff, RDCS felt the amount of training had not completely met their needs. In fact, most of the partners recognized that training was a weakness of the initiative (P1)(P3)(L3). RDCS would like an expanded training program that addressed integrated stream processes (e.g., habitat, wildlife, water quality/quantity, etc.). Senior agencies were developing a training module for local staff as the pilot initiative expanded to include wildlife habitat (P2). "Being able to have free and easy access to the technical expertise of the people at BCE and DFO has been invaluable. [...] The regional district couldn't afford to pay for that."13 "[Training] has met our needs, it hasn't met our total desires. [...] Somewhere along the line, when I get new staff I am going to have to fire these people through some kind of a training program because I can't always guarantee that the person I'm hiring is going to have an environmental background as part of their training."1"1 "I haven't had an awful lot of opportunity to do real training. When I go up there it has generally unfortunately been quite hurried because it's really hard to get 150 them to give up some time to go out and spend time. We try to make use of those teaching moments that present themselves."P3 Over time, DFO and BCE staff began to feel confident that RDCS was capable of reviewing development proposals for stream habitat issues and knew when to ask for expert advice (F5)(P1). Advice and involvement by BCE and DFO decreased over time, except when RDCS had limited experience with certain land use activities or types of ESAs. "If things have changed and are more effective, they're more effective because we have more manpower than the old process here, that's what changed."F 4 7.4 Cooperative Strategies 7.4.1 Increased and Supported Local Role During design of the MOU, senior and local agencies were fearful of crossing into each others jurisdictions (F2). The MOU did not change jurisdictional authority of the three partners, but became an agreement to cooperate together. Some interviewees felt the pilot initiative was a compromise, did not create an independent role for RDCS, and did not test whether local responsibility leads to better decisions (F1). "From my perspective, what I was trying to test [...] was the extent to which decision making, as it affects community based natural resources [...], can be made at a local level and made such that they are ultimately better decisions. It was a way to test the extent to which delegation of responsibility can be passed from federal government through the provincial government down to the local government. But the reality was that senior agencies were often unwilling to pass on authority (P1)(F2)(F8), and RDCS was unwilling to assume responsibility beyond their capabilities. Despite these constraints, RDCS's role in habitat protection definitely increased as the initiative evolved. RDCS staff used to direct all urban stream issues to senior agencies; under the Comox Valley pilot initiative, they addressed these issues themselves whenever possible. From July 1995 to March 1997, approximately 50% of the applications reviewed under the 151 initiative were dealt with by RDCS without senior agency involvement (Table 6.1). Some interviewees questioned why DFO and BCE supported this increased local role, and suggested it was more related to budget cuts than a recognition of the strengths that local government brought to habitat protection (L1)(F6)(L3). But none of the staff commented that this initiative was a form of downloading. In fact, they all recognized RDCS's central role because it was the point of access to landowners, developers, and the public, had the authority over land use planning, and knew the players (L1)(L3)(F5)(P3)(F6). "The decisions are made quicker, more efficiently, they're better decisions because they know the land, they know the property owners, and we can back them up with any expertise that we have. And we're available if there's problems, or things that they're not understanding."P3 "It has been the demise of our society in having upper levels of government being responsible for local environmental issues because people will act totally different in their own backyards. Now having more local responsibility will bring it more and more close to their own backyards so it brings them more in touch with what they should do." 0 1 "They're the linch pin, they are where the people come in the door. They have the law, they have the authority to stop somebody from building, to change their building requirements."1^2 The only lack of support for RDCS's increased role was from external agencies. For example, BCE waste and water management were initially concerned about changes to their jurisdiction (P3). Staff did not feel that any partner had more influence, although RDCS did direct the process because of their central role. RDCS would likely not have remained committed if DFO or BCE had dominated the process (F5). RDCS staff did not feel that the other partners tried to undercut their decisions, and noted that they always supported decisions made by RDCS (L3). "Local government is local government [...]. The bottom line is that we can't do anything that they won't support, that's all there is to it."L3 DFO had some initial problems understanding the role of local government but RDCS staff felt that the senior agencies really grew to appreciate what RDCS brought to the initiative (L1). 152 DFO staff commented that they would not want to be totally removed from site visits and decision making but that RDCS's involvement helped them do a better job (F8). 7.4.2 Cooperative Roles Problems with referral processes have often been related to a lack of cooperation; for example, referrals would not be submitted, the correct information would not be provided, or responses would be ignored (F5). The Comox Valley pilot initiative was designed to move forward from existing legislation and administrative processes by working creatively together, and this meant working cooperatively together. During development of the Habitat Atlas, there was constant feedback and cooperation between RDCS, DFO, and BCE (L2). Although they recognized that limited resources were a factor in instigating the pilot initiative, DFO staff did not consider it to be a form of downloading and tried not to present it as such (F2). Thus, a cooperative approach was developed and DFO and BCE brought tools and ongoing support to the initiative. DFO felt this cooperative relationship helped allay some of the fears of power loss and gain (F2). "Senior government needs to learn from what we've done with the MOU that the best way to get local government to be empathetic and understanding and onside is to work cooperatively rather than to straight devolve."1"1 Initially, DFO and BCE staff did not understand how they were expected to interact with RDCS; for example, DFO did not realize they needed to complete site visits with RDCS (F2). Over time, appropriate roles and a symbiotic relationship developed between the partners (L3), and they solved many problems as a group (through site visits and meetings). RDCS played the central role in the new process, determining when and how it operated, because they had direct responsibilities over development activities. BCE and DFO, who depended on RDCS to improve their ability to control and protect, played a more supportive role. 153 "Trying to deal with habitat issues for the department - in no way can it be compared to running a hatchery. Running a hatchery is a department responsibility and it's totally within the powers of the government. So everything that happens in a hatchery is controlled by the department. There's virtually nothing that happens in habitat that is controlled by the department. So it's almost a given that you have to develop partnerships. Particularly in the Georgia Basin, most of what we've got here is privately owned."F 6 RDCS staff felt that senior agencies needed to focus more on monitoring and being mentoring colleagues (L1), but generally partner agencies felt their roles were appropriate. Many interviewees felt a united front was created by the cooperative and integrated processes that evolved, and that this strengthened local habitat protection (F2). This united front meant the partners supported each others decisions. For example, DFO and BCE supported RDCS's requests for hydrology studies at proposed gravel pits on ALR land when the landowner questioned RDCS's authority (L3). In another example, RDCS requested BCE provide negative referral comments to BC MOTH's site plan so that RDCS's recommendations would be considered and a potential tree blowdown area could be avoided. "[RDCS is] being backed up by the other two governments. A landowner can not try and divide and conquer. A united front - that didn't exist."F2 By working cooperatively and supporting each other, the level of trust amongst staff increased, which was one objective of the MOU (MOU 1995). One interviewee commented that, since no local regulations had been developed, if urban stream protection had improved it was because of the harmony that developed between the three partners (F4). In particular, the relationship amongst technical staff level became very strong. DFO and BCE staff felt comfortable that RDCS staff would address urban stream protection (F5). "Now you have three levels of government who didn't trust each other, who couldn't find ways of cooperating effectively, who have now found what I think is a much better way of doing business and is allowing us all to accomplish our mandate better."1"1 "[The biggest difference is the] hands on involvement - I know what's going on in [the Comox Valley], and I know their staff, their level of training, and their ability to make those decisions."93 154 Each partner's credibility was raised in the eyes of the others. Unfortunately, this trust and respect was proven to be fragile; the relationship between RDCS and DFO management faltered when DFO realized DPAs on ALR land were excluded from the draft OCP (F4). Working cooperatively altered workloads. Although the pilot initiative hoped to decrease senior agency workload, improving the process and habitat protection was its overall purpose (MOU 1995). One interviewee questioned whether workloads could be expected to decrease given projected growth and development rates (F6). Some staff felt that DFO and BCE's overall involvement in the Comox Valley had increased since habitat protection efforts had expanded (i.e., more streams identified, more staff in the field, more types of applications reviewed) (L1)(L3)(P2)(F8). But this was not considered a negative result since it meant there were more opportunities for protection (F8). "I think the [Habitat Atlas] has really sparked new demands. The whole idea for the Atlas was to help reduce referral workloads and reduce our work, but I really think it has increased the work. And so be it, it needs it. If you identify 40% more streams in an area, you might have just made 40% more work for yourself but that's our mandate. Some sources of senior agency workload decreased; for example, RDCS dealt almost entirely with developers and the public on habitat issues (P1)(L3)(F8). RDCS reviewed over 70% of the building permits processed between July 1995 and March 1997 without any DFO or BCE involvement (Table 6.1). Some sources of senior agency workload increased; for example, both DFO and BCE felt they spent more time in verbal communication with RDCS than before (P3)(P2)(F8). Interestingly, each felt the other must spend more time on site visits. As RDCS staff became more experienced, senior agency involvement in site visits decreased; however, BCE and DFO have put some extra effort towards training (P1). BCE staff felt there was a relative decrease in workload because their geographic areas expanded to include the Comox Valley when the pilot initiative began, but workload did not increase correspondingly (P3). 155 Partner agencies recognized that a certain level of senior involvement was necessary as RDCS still needed a certain degree of senior agency training and support because they were not habitat specialists (L3)(F5)(P3)(F8). "This MOU has not necessarily reduced workloads. It has reduced workloads in some ways and increased it in others."F8 Undoubtedly, the workload of RDCS staff increased. Consequently, they were unable to complete a site visit for every development proposal, although they always informed the landowner of measures to follow for stream protection (L3). "If there was an expectation that the regional district could go out to every single application every single time, the reality is that with our workload we just can't do that either. So from time to time we make judgment calls."13 BCE staff felt their workload would decrease if water and waste issues were included in the MOU (P3)(P4). As relationships build, the Comox Valley pilot initiative might be able to broaden its scope and move in this direction (P4). As a result of their experiences working informally with local environmental NGOs, RDCS was working towards a more formal cooperative relationship with Project Watershed (i.e., letter of agreement). Project Watershed desired a more formalized relationship with RDCS to improve their credibility and public education (02)(01). 7.4.3 Conflict Resolution The cooperative strategies adopted for the Comox Valley pilot initiative allowed agencies to move further away from "we" vs. "they" and the wasted time associated with conflicted relationships (P4). Although cooperating reduced potential conflict, a dispute resolution mechanism was included in the MOU (MOU 1995). This mechanism, which consisted of a joint decision-making committee of appropriate managers, was included to avoid dissolution of the initiative when conflicts arose. There were never any serious disputes between the three 156 partners. Staff, particularly technical staff, were able to arrive at common understandings over problems. One interviewee felt there were no conflicts because the initiative represented minimal change in governance structure (e.g., no local regulations, no multistakeholder consensus-based forum) (F1). "All of the partners had to come to the table as equal if it was to survive."" "It's not often that the three of us are together. [...] It's easier when it's just the regional district involved, those are simple. When we are, I've never really found a problem with seriously conflicting viewpoints on what should happen, and if there are [...], there is always professional courtesy and respect in trying to come to some kind of consensus on how we will deal with the applicant. "We seem to be [...] interested in the same things, and addressing how we solve problems. [...] I don't know that there have been any conflicts. [...] [RDCS] seem to genuinely want to know what our concerns are and then they address them."F 5 The only major source of conflict during implementation came from external sources. "It's usually outside agency problems with how the MOU works and who has jurisdiction over what. It's rarely ever a question of disagreements between the three parties. And generally, if that's the case, we would work those things out ourselves. " P 3 Sources of external conflict included BCE's initial concerns about waste and water being excluded from the pilot initiative (M-2), negative comments from BC MOTH and BC Ministry of Employment and Investment (Mines) (M-3), and complaints from local environmental NGOs about their limited role in decision making. These sources of external conflict were addressed by the cooperative relationship of partner agencies. For example, BCE staff developed informal arrangements to address internal issues within their agency (P4), all of the partners verbally supported their initiative against negative feedback from other agencies, and RDCS began working towards a cooperative arrangement with Project Watershed. "[BCE habitat people] has to kind of liaise with the waste management people and the water people, and ensure we don't end up in conflicts."P4 "[RDCS] has had fewer and fewer confrontations over time with Water Management. I think they understand that we are not working at cross purposes either."L1 157 7.5 Coordination 7.5.1 Clear Roles The MOU loosely defined partner roles, recognizing that these would develop according to site-specific characteristics. "[Roles] are fairly clearly defined in the MOU, and again that was a shot in the dark because we didn't know really what the reality would be. I think the MOU probably needs to be revised [...]. Now I would imagine their roles are much more clearly understood than they were before."" "From DFO's perspective, there was a difficulty at the start for the persons who were intimately involved to understand what their role would be and then to try and figure out how that would fit into their life as it was." F 2 The roles that have evolved for each of the partners have become more clear over time, particularly at the technical staff level because they work with the pilot initiative daily (L1). Working together cooperatively gave staff a better understanding of each others roles, mandates, responsibilities, and limitations (L1)(P3)(P2), and clarified the roles they each needed to take in different situations. RDCS played the central role in the review process and dealt directly with the developers and public. There were very few applications (approximately 15%) from July 1995 to March 1997 that involved both BCE and DFO because RDCS coordinated efforts to decrease duplication by senior agencies (Table 6.1). Although senior agencies sometimes coordinated efforts between themselves (P3), they did not generally deal directly with each other because this was RDCS's role (F8). Because there were designated staff involved in the initiative, it was clear who the contact people were (F5). To a certain extent, roles were limited by jurisdictions; for example, RDCS often advised the landowner that DFO and BCE needed to be contacted if any variations to setback provisions or other stream protection measures were necessary or if instream works such as ditch cleaning, stream crossings, or bank stabilization were to be undertaken. Any authorization to alter fish habitat had to be provided by the appropriate senior agency. If DFO or BCE had historical involvement 158 with a site, RDCS ensured they had input into the review process to avoid confusion or overlap. BCE staff also assumed a coordinating role to address internal waste and water issues (P4). "My relationship with pollution prevention here and with water has really gone a long way to sort of dispel some of the concerns that they had about what the MOU might be and what it might mean to them, with having to give up power, or whatever. [...] I drag them in on things where I know that we need their help."9 3 However, the noninclusion of waste and water issues still caused some confusion and duplication of effort. For example, one developer still had to deal with both BCE and RDCS because of floodplain issues on his property (03), and another developer was not informed about all of BCE water management's requirements (05). It also caused confusion in the BC MOTH subdivision referral process. "The confusion [of roles] hasn't happened internally as much as it has happened with other agencies. MOTH in particular has had a difficult time understanding how [the initiative] works."1"1 BCE still wanted to submit integrated Ministry responses (i.e., habitat, water, waste) for subdivision referrals. To accommodate this, BCE and RDCS coordinated their responses to ensure habitat recommendations did not conflict. BCE was involved to some degree in every subdivision application reviewed under the initiative from July 1995 to March 1997, and DFO was involved in over half (Table 6.1). This level of involvement may have decreased beyond March 1997 as RDCS's capacity continued to grow, but a slightly refined version of the referral process was still used for subdivision applications under the pilot initiative. "We still write our responses into the regional district, and they will look at our responses and if there's discrepancies between ourselves and BCE there will be some clarification. [...] The regional district coordinates us. MOTH probably did before [...] but there's more discussion about those discrepancies now."F 8 Some subdivision applications not forwarded to senior agencies were reviewed by RDCS, filling administrative gaps. 159 7.5.2 Clear Procedures/Guidelines The MOU did not provide extensive detail on the procedures and guidelines to follow in the new review process. As discussed, RDCS played a central role, and the procedures they followed hinged on the Habitat Atlas. Every time a development proposal was submitted to RDCS, they checked its location in the Habitat Atlas. If it was within an ESA planning boundary, or if an unmapped watercourse was identified on the application, RDCS initiated a review process to address habitat protection issues. "[The Habitat Atlas] is not meant to decide whether the project's good or bad, it's simply to steer them down a path that eventually gets to a decision."1"1 Where information was lacking, developers were asked to provide additional information (F3). During implementation, RDCS made some modifications to their approach; for example, at times they decided not to complete a site visit for time management purposes (L3). Procedures took a while to develop because of internal miscommunications within BCE (P3). "That's where some of the problems developed initially because it was really unclear how this process should go, and it got very complicated and convoluted for a while. It was just insane. I really didn't know who I was responding to and when at some points. So we had a couple of meetings and [...] hashed out what made sense. Through the procedures that evolved, the partners tried to develop a single-window approach to save time, money, and clarify processes. This kind of approach should also cost less for developers (P1). "The developer's perspective on it is that I'd like to go to one desk, get all the information out to all the people at all the same time, and then get an answer back as quickly as possible. The Land Development Guidelines and Stream Stewardship Guide were used to make technical decisions (P1). According to the MOU, BCE and DFO should be involved when variations to guidelines are proposed or when critical issues emerge (i.e., very sensitive areas, no available guidelines, severe impacts, etc.) (MOU 1995). In some cases, a landowner 160 questioned RDCS's decision and the Comox Valley Planning Committee requested direct input from BCE and DFO. RDCS expressed some dissatisfaction with the guidelines used in decision making. They felt if no variation to the Land Development Guidelines was proposed, then senior agencies did not need to be involved, but in some cases they still were (e.g., subdivisions) (L1). For a long time, BCE requested a copy of the response prepared for every application. RDCS would like more flexibility in their decision making. "We can't cross at this point in time into the areas of jurisdiction of the senior levels of government, and there's no doubt that that is a limiting factor - the ability to do enforcement out in the field, to vary setbacks, to do some of the things to act in a unilateral manner that might make things more efficient for the landowner and keep the process moving a little more smoothly."1-1 Meetings were critical to procedures. Staff met in two forums; during site visits and during quarterly management meetings. Site visits provided an opportunity to elicit site-specific advice from DFO and BCE and continue capacity building of RDCS staff. Management meetings provided an opportunity to discuss certain applications, and likely saved time by focusing energy and eliminating duplication of effort (M-1, M-2, M-3). Development proposals reviewed during management meetings involved all three partners (e.g., subdivision applications), posed a significant threat to aquatic habitat, or were higher profile projects. Staff were able to find common responses to certain developments. Meetings were also used to solve problems, such as confusion during initial implementation (P3)(M-1, M-2). DFO management felt that by communicating and meeting on a regular basis, a better way of doing referrals jointly was developed (F4). Procedures for subdivision applications were more complicated because of BCE's need to submit integrated responses and BC MOTH's concerns about changes to the review process. Based on file information reviewed, this process was not followed consistently, was somewhat 161 confusing, and resulted in a duplication of effort at times. But BCE staff still felt that timely and better decisions were being made with the processes in place under the pilot initiative (P3). DFO staff found new processes much clearer to follow than those in other geographic areas, although site-specific characteristics made it difficult to compare (i.e., development rates were higher in Comox Valley) (F5). They felt it provided them with a more orderly forum for decision making, and that RDCS involvement decreased confusion (F8)(F1). However, some interviewees pointed out that developing clear and streamlined processes helped the agencies, but did not necessarily curtail development or better protect streams (01)(F6). 7.5.3 Improved Communication Under the referral process, independent decisions were made in isolation of each other. Whenever they received comments from senior agencies, RDCS sometimes saw inconsistencies in referral responses but would make their best guess ruling and pass the information to proponents (L1). The Comox Valley pilot initiative allowed partners to regularly discuss habitat protection together and come up with common and often creative solutions (L1). "They never had a process for talking to each other, or if they did it was in a letter referral. There wasn't a mechanism [...] for them to come up with a unified vision and decision."01 "The MOU was a formalized vehicle which at least brought government of those three levels to a regular table and made, in an open forum, decisions as opposed to the previous system which was decisions being made somewhat in isolation of each other. " F 1 RDCS staff felt their open lines of communication with DFO and BCE were invaluable (L1)(L3). Ongoing and informal communication amongst staff (meetings, site visits, phone) enabled better coordination. 162 "At the field staff level it's very informal communication. Really good coordination [...], coming up with common positions and trying to work out roughs spots in what is going on." L 1 Some staff felt communication improved between partner agencies because they shared resources and used a common tool (i.e., Habitat Atlas) (P3). In addition to informal communications, meetings were generally held every three to four months for managers and technical staff to discuss important development proposals and other issues. Some interviewees commented that the meetings helped identify who had an axe to grind, and let them vent (F5). For example, RDCS was able to voice their concerns about strict setbacks because of their ongoing dialogue with senior agencies. Partner agencies felt better communication improved their understanding of each others perspectives and facilitated environmental decision making (L1)(F1). "It's a means to facilitate better communication between agencies in resource protection, and it's really effective in doing that."9 3 'You have to keep communicating, you have to keep the lines of communication open. You just hope there's honesty and integrity there, and if something's building that you're going to hear about it. [...] From [DFO's] perspective, there's a willingness to do that from this end. And I'm hoping that there's a willingness to do that from the other end." F 4 Communication within senior agencies from management to technical staff was inadequate when the pilot initiative first began, which resulted in some confusion (M-1, M-3). This lack of communication was not a problem at RDCS (L3). "In retrospect, that's one thing I would do different - I would make sure that everybody that was involved in the process got a copy of the agreement and if necessary an inaugural meeting where we all got together and discussed what the intent of the thing was and make sure everybody understood the rules of the game."9 1 "It would be better if there were more inhouse discussion, maybe some part in some of the meetings between people who were negotiating it because it was signed and we were expected to get it to work without any parameters, how much involvement there is, what is to be covered."F8 163 There were different perceptions about how the level of communication changed over time. BCE staff felt they talked more regularly and opened up the lines of communication (P3). DFO staff agreed that less written and more verbal communication was needed, but also observed that the amount of communication decreased over time as DFO became more confident in RDCS's capabilities (F8). In terms of public communication, the MOU stipulated that decisions made during meetings with DFO and BCE would be a matter of public record, and that decisions would be regularly reviewed and evaluated in a public forum. This was not done. 7.6 Linkages 7.6.1 Appropriate Sectors Involved The most appropriate sectors (or agencies) were involved in the Comox Valley pilot initiative for protecting fish habitat, but not for protecting streams (i.e., water quality, water quantity). Most noted by interviewees was the lack of involvement of BCE waste and water units. "It may be wise in BCE's case to have someone who represents water management there. What I can see happening is that we'll have these wonderful leave strips and setbacks on creeks but no water in them because nobody's doing anything regarding the water issue."F4 "Having water management out of the equation is difficult sometimes when you're looking at maintaining stream flows and those kinds of issues. Waste management branch to a lesser extent. We speak informally with them anyway."1"3 "That's the concern that I've had with this MOU is that it deals with one aspect. I think there's a perception that by dealing with that one aspect you're protecting the environment, you're protecting fisheries. What it forgets is that water is very critical for a fish, it doesn't deal with water. In practice, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the major issue is not the riparian strip, it's the water quantity, the water quality, and that's affected by development in the entire watershed."P4 "Are we better maintaining the hydrology of streams - no, because we are dealing only with the habitat areas immediately adjacent to the streams. Watershed protection is a much different concept than that. I'm not sure that 164 there's any regulatory method that we have right now that is going to allow us to be do better stream hydrology planning at the local government level."L1 The noninvolvement of water, waste, and other sectors meant that urban stream decision making remained fragmented. However, informal processes developed within BCE to address overlap, gaps, and confusion, and ongoing communication between all of the partners helped keep issues clear. "Because our staff are trying to do what the MOU says and work closely with the regional district, it does take away a little bit from the integrative process that we have in our organization to address all of those different functions. But that's history. [BCE staff] has done a good job of informally carrying out that integrative role."P4 Most staff and other interviewees recognized that in order to protect fish, water quantity and quality issues can not be ignored (P4). However, they also concurred that including these sectors could have made implementation very difficult, and would have made the initiative less attractive to RDCS (P1). The three partners did not completely agree on the sectors RDCS should address under this initiative. DFO staff felt RDCS should not respond on their behalf for every land use issue (e.g., forestry, mines, etc.) or for instream works (F4)(F8). But BCE staff and management felt RDCS was well placed to assume more responsibility for waste and water management reviews (P3), although they had not necessarily considered how such an arrangement would operate. "I think ultimately to bring in some level of waste and water review would be a benefit to everybody here and up there, it would save us all a lot of time, because they're on these sites, they're in the community and they know who the players are, who the landowners are. I think that there are places that they could probably help us out, with an extra set of eyes and ears that are on the ground."P 3 RDCS remained apprehensive about assuming broader responsibilities (particularly waste and water), but they continued moving towards this direction. For example, the revised MOU added wildlife habitat to the process (MOU 1997). 165 Other sectors not involved in the pilot initiative included the development sector (landowners, developers, BC MOTH), resource sector (forestry, mines), and environmental NGOs. "From the beginning, I believed that there were more players that needed to be involved if you're going to make truly integrated resource management type decisions that have the best chance of surviving and being sustainable. And agencies that [...] struck me as being absent was of course water management. Another one was MOTH. [...] And also notable by its absence, nor were the public there."F1 7.6.2 Integration of Stream Protection and Development Process Referral processes were limited because habitat protection was addressed in few applications and only late in the review process. Decisions and comments about development and about fish habitat were never integrated, just appended to applications and approval/permit. The Habitat Atlas visually integrated ESAs and local land uses instead of keeping these information sources separate. It identified more small streams and other types of water features which facilitated more holistic protection. It was the first resource tool used by RDCS when an inquiry or development proposal was submitted (L2). "We must get 1000 to 1500 inquiries at our counter every year. The MOU is taking environmental information with every one of those inquiries. Only 20% of those become applications of one kind or another. And of those only a certain number actually go out to other agencies for additional comment."1"1 Because they were the central player in this initiative, RDCS assumed a more integrative role. RDCS considered fish habitat protection more often because they used the Habitat Atlas, they had more frequent communication with senior agencies, and they had more contact with environmental NGOs. "I think [the MOU] basically just switched the whole effort from planning to [...] planning from the ground up. [...] It's probably the strongest and most consistent thing we do in the planning department."1"3 They often commented on urban stream protection issues themselves or integrated responses from DFO or BCE. From July 1995 to March 1997, RDCS reviewed approximately 50% of 166 development proposals under the pilot initiative without any involvement of senior agencies (Table 6.1). RDCS also integrated habitat protection into more types and numbers of applications. For example, building permits were never reviewed for habitat impacts, but from July 1995 to March 1997, 65 building permits were reviewed under the new processes (over 40% of formal applications submitted under the initiative) (Table 6.1). Developers wanted a single window, single point of integration, and they saw this beginning with this initiative (03). Many staff also believed RDCS worked more holistically as a result of the Comox Valley pilot initiative (L1). "The improvement [in planning] would come in the face to face contact, and each of the organization representatives hearing what the concerns and thoughts are on each of the proposals. So they start to look at it -1 wouldn't say from a whole system perspective because they're still doing it at too small a scale."F6 Although the initiative focused on fish habitat, new processes addressed other urban stream protection issues. In some cases, hydrology and water quality issues were addressed; for example, the impacts of manure composting on water quality were considered and methods for minimizing stormwater were proposed, but only for properties within streamside areas identified by the Habitat Atlas. RDCS wanted an expanded training program that included habitat, wildlife, and water quality/quantity issues (P1). BCE concurrently moved towards a more integrated approach by coordinating referral processes and providing a single Ministry response. The Comox Valley pilot initiative compromised these attempts by shifting responsibility for fish habitat to RDCS; however, informal relationships developed to address these problems (P4). In some cases, RDCS filled gaps in provincial review processes so that more applications considered urban stream protection issues. For example, RDCS requested hydrology studies for proposed gravel pits on 167 ALR land; BCE water management did not have the mandate to request this because a water license was not involved. 7.6.3 Integration in a Watershed Context The Comox Valley pilot initiative did not protect streams within a watershed context, but it was not intended to; rather, it was designed with an achievable purpose. The Habitat Atlas reflected this purpose by delineating streamside planning boundaries for screening development proposals. Although it lacked other types of ESAs that affect stream health (e.g., groundwater, pollution sources, etc.), some interviewees commented that the Habitat Atlas's orthophoto backdrop provided a snapshot of watershed conditions in and around a site. The new review process also reflected the initiative's purpose by only examining streamside developments and primarily addressing urban and rural development. Without a new OCP (Section 7.8.1), development was generally reviewed on a site-by-site basis. One interviewee characterized the pilot initiative as one activity working at a small scale that was making watershed protection more achievable (F6). Many similar initiatives were working towards urban stream protection in the Comox Valley: "It is really hard to separate things going on in the valley. It's hard to say [...] if all the benefits we see for fish habitat are due to Project Watershed or all the benefits are due to the MOU. They're not. They're due to a whole pile of things that have gone on in the valley in the last decade."F6 "A lot of these processes got started concurrently. The USHP and the MOU, all those sort of things started up within a year or two of each other so it's difficult to separate out how one might have reacted with or without the other. [..] They're so intertwined now."9 3 The Comox Valley pilot initiative began to create linkages with other initiatives. RDCS began developing linkages to local environmental NGOs. They developed a Greenways Plan to guide development, and intended to initiate a LWMP that could address non point source pollution. RDCS staff observed that they were well positioned to become a clearinghouse of information 168 and initiatives for the Comox Valley watersheds (L3), and one interviewee commented that RDCS was moving beyond the constraints of the MOU and towards this direction. "I think originally in the regional district's eyes [...] it was a way to streamline the process and make better decisions, but it's moving in my opinion more towards watershed based planning and ecosystem based planning." 1 "The regional district I'd never envisioned as being the ultimate definition of local stewardship. I hadn't defined it - the regional district certainly has a role to play. It brings to the table not only tools but also the benefit of much more of a watershed based framework [...]. But not on its own."F 1 The partners did not have a consistent vision about RDCS's role in and the benefit of watershed protection. A number of DFO staff observed that RDCS's jurisdiction and responsibilities limited its ability to consider a watershed context. For example, its political boundaries did not follow watershed boundaries and it was only responsible for urban development (i.e., not resource-based activities) (F6)(F4). DFO interviewees commented that RDCS did not need to become involved in water management processes (i.e., water use, instream works) until land use became an issue, and suggested that watershed planning and protection was too expensive anyway and required too much long-term vision from the public (F8)(F4). But another DFO interviewee suggested resources might be better put towards watershed planning than partnering with local government to improve review processes (F6). Perhaps because of their broader mandate, BCE staff felt that RDCS were well placed for a more active role in watershed-level protection, given the right resources and support (P4)(P3). "There is no law [...] that restricts the amount of watershed that we can develop. No regulations whatsoever. All we can do is encourage and provide information."P4 The Comox Valley pilot initiative continued to evolve in more holistic directions. For example, the revised MOU was expanded to include wildlife habitat (MOU 1997). One interviewee 169 suggested that it was only limited on paper, and that as partners worked together they began to develop a synergy that could lead them in new directions (01). 7.7 Education 7.7A Increased Local Awareness One objective of the MOU was for the partners to share resources, including expert advice and information. All staff felt that better decisions had been made during implementation as a result of sharing resources and improving relationships between the three partners (P1)(F5)(L3). Senior agency staff felt that sharing their resources had increased the knowledge base within RDCS (F8)(F6)(F4). Sharing of resources should also reduce costs (P1), especially since an increased workforce for urban stream protection was created (L3)(01). "The real big advantage is more awareness and more eyes out there. That's really important."™ "Planners are definitely getting more environmental awareness."01 "From the perspective of being a corporate citizen in the valley, [...] it allows community planning and urban development or rural development [...] to take place in a more integrated fashion, such that the people responsible for land use (i.e., the regional district) now are also more acutely aware of urban stream habitat requirements. That's good." 0 3 As their capacity grew, RDCS staff began to rely less on DFO and BCE (L1). Senior agencies became more comfortable about decreasing their role; by November 1997, most site visits and written communications were done by RDCS (L1)(L3). "You get to meet these people, and see them in another setting, such as a training setting as opposed to a work setting. Then you get an idea of what their background is and you know, if you've been at workshops together, what they've heard."" "[RDCS] become aware of how things that look inconsequential to developers, landowners and perhaps themselves actually are very important and vital to fish, and they're willing to push for it. I think their first position is one of protection, it's not to accommodate the developer."F4 170 By November 1997, RDCS estimated that 75% of the time they worked without BCE and DFO involvement; they would like to work independently 95% of the time (L1). Knowledge gaps remained within RDCS, exemplified by cases of poor decision making. For example, RDCS approved construction of a building on the Tsolum River floodplain that DFO felt was inappropriate in terms of water management and floodplain issues (F8). This kind of gap may be due to the lack of involvement of appropriate agencies. "I don't think the process is more costly at this point in time. The biggest thing I think is for my staff to become increasingly confident in doing work in the field themselves and relying on DFO and Ministry of Environment less and less."L1 "The most dangerous thing you'd probably find is a bunch of planners out there who think they're biologists, who think they're engineers. [...] It's important to understand your limitations in that, despite the training you get. I think we have more knowledge than most people in our positions because of the nature of the MOU but I think it would be really dangerous to start thinking that we knew it all."L 3 "We don't have the resources to go out and spend the time with every local government on a day to day basis as they deal with plans, rezoning, building permits, and keep up to them and say, 'here's our advice'f...]. So we have to try and get the jurisdictions and the decision making well enough informed so that on 90% they're going to make the right decisions to start with." 9 4 7.7.2 Improved Cross-Disciplinary Understanding All of the partners agreed that each agency had developed a better understanding of each others legislation, mandates, guidelines, limitations and concerns under this initiative, particularly at the technical staff level (L1)(P2)(F6). Senior agencies became more aware of land use, development, planning, bylaws and other tools, and the strengths and limitations of local government. (L1)(F1)(F8). "The provincial and federal governments learned a lot more about the powers and the constraints and the necessities under which local governments operate. [...] And a lot about how they could help us and where they couldn't help us." 9 1 "I know an awful lot more about local legislation, the Municipal Act, and bylaws, and development permits."F8 171 Despite an increased understanding, DFO and BCE staff were still confused about RDCS's enforcement powers (F8)(P3). For their part, RDCS became more aware of senior agency frustrations as well as fish habitat and stream protection issues (L1). One interviewee commented that the educational components of the pilot initiative broke down existing agency barriers (L2). "[RDCS] has a better understanding of what senior governments have to go through. [...] There's a lot of distrust between the three levels of government. More activity like this can only lead to a better understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities. And I think more effective government."1"1 All of the partners demonstrated an increased understanding about the Comox Valley pilot initiative over time that informed it and helped it evolve and develop. Even with respect to stream protection issues, capacity building was reciprocal. Senior agency staff were more aware of existing stream habitat in the Comox Valley because the Habitat Atlas improved existing information. In some cases, RDCS staff, local environmental NGOs, landowners, or developers had local information that senior agencies were unaware of (L3). Working together helped disseminate this information and improve agency awareness. 7.7.3 Public Education Public education was not an explicit objective of the MOU (MOU 1995); however, it was an output. "I think it would be important to look at what educational value - which I think the existing MOU I would give full marks to what has happened in terms of the improved relationship between DFO, BCE and the regional district, in terms of educating planning staff at the regional district and in educating the public at large. Huge difference, in my mind anyway, between showing the public a planning map of the Comox Valley that shows nothing but road lines and lot lines, and showing them our new sensitive habitat Atlas. [...] It's almost like an offshoot, a side benefit of the MOU itself. " F 6 Public education was achieved by the Comox Valley pilot initiative through two methods. First, the Habitat Atlas was used as a public education tool by being available at RDCS's front 172 counter. However, although some members of the interested public reviewed the Habitat Atlas, the broad public likely did not know about the initiative or the Habitat Atlas (F7). Local environmental NGOs felt the Habitat Atlas could be better used for broad public outreach. "Unless it's somebody that had a development, that was impacted by it, I don't think there's any public awareness in this." 0 1 "There are people that actually go in on other business and see this Atlas there and [...] seeing that there is an information base [...]. People can be turned on to it, it's pretty empowering. But there should be more points of access and more knowledge of its existence."01 Second, stream protection information was disseminated by RDCS to landowners and developers involved in the development review process. The Habitat Atlas was immediately used when anyone came to the counter with a question or application, and was much better than anything RDCS previously had available to provide landowners with information on stream presence (L1). Although agreeing that more people were informed by the Habitat Atlas, one interviewee questioned whether or not landowners and community groups were already familiar with this information from living in the region (P4). Information on urban stream protection measures was disseminated through verbal or written communication. RDCS also distributed some stream protection pamphlets and senior agency information, and sometimes referred landowners to local environmental NGOs to create more opportunities for education (L3)(P3). Although they were unable to visit every site, RDCS staff always ensured stream protection information was provided to landowners. "What we never do is compromise the public education part of it. We're always contacting the developer, whether it be a homeowner or a developer, in writing and verbally and just saying 'I realize this is all you're doing but do some erosion control, delineate the area by way of a fence so the excavator doesn't wander in there', that kind of thing. That's consistent."1-3 Because local regulations were not developed in most parts of the Comox Valley (Section 7.8), urban stream protection and landowner compliance could only be achieved through education. 173 The public appeared to be willing to cooperate. RDCS staff felt landowners were supportive because the Habitat Atlas was not used to suggest properties be rendered unusable or sterilized (L3)(L1). Without this type of approach, partner agencies felt there might be more hostility from landowners (L1)(F7). Sometimes this approach did not work, and landowners still wanted to do something regardless of stream presence (L2). But for the most part, staff felt the approach resulted in positive action. 7.8 Land Use Planning and Development Control 7.8.1 Proactive and Protective Land Use Planning The MOU required RDCS to use information from the Habitat Atlas in land use planning but did not elaborate on the specific tools to be used (MOU 1995). Senior agencies, in particular DFO, considered the establishment of DPAs an objective of the pilot initiative (F4)(F1). If stream protection was incorporated into plans and bylaws, decisions would be affected earlier on and site-by-site habitat destruction and cumulative effects on streams would be decreased. "Conceptually, that was one of the advantages of this whole process - it allowed the regional district to integrate this Atlas into the OCP and all their land use planning tools."F1 "It was predicated on them generating an OCP and developing development permit areas under the OCP and they have not done that yet. For us to say, 'it's working' - it was predicated on that, that's why we gave them the map. If it's working already why did we sign an MOU that refers to these development permit areas, why did we give them the map to generate development permit areas. If it's working, it's working simply because we're working in harmony, they understand our concerns and they are willing to fight for them the same as we would fight. Because they have no more legislative authority than they had before."1* A revised OCP was prepared for the Comox Valley in the fall of 1996 and included DPAs around all streams identified in the Habitat Atlas. Within these DPAs, guidelines required that activities within 30 m of a stream would need to (RDCS 1996): • follow the Land Development Guidelines and the Stream Stewardship Guide; 174 • include a biophysical assessment (prepared by a qualified professional) that addressed protection of fisheries values, and • post a performance bond. However, a number of external forces prevented implementation of the OCP. First, BC MAF refused to allow DPAs on land within the ALR, under powers provided by the Farm Practices Protection Act. A revised draft of the OCP was prepared that excluded land within the ALR from DPA restrictions. Second, the new OCP was not adopted by the RDCS regional board because of public dissatisfaction with the plan (particularly related to growth in the region). Thus, DPAs for the Comox Valley were not established. A revised OCP for a small subarea north of the Oyster River was adopted in April 1997. DPAs in the Comox Valley have considerable potential for protecting riparian vegetation because RDCS was authorized by BCE to protect vegetation within these areas; most planning departments in the region do not want this responsibility (F4). The Comox Valley OCP was expected to be redrafted in the spring of 1998 and include DPAs on all nonALR land. RDCS staff recognized that the establishment of DPAs was critical because they provided an enforceable framework for streamside protection. "When adoption of the OCP was held up by the Board, they unknowingly and unwittingly gutted our ability to require a number of these things to happen. Fortunately, we have been able to armtwist and use moral suasion to convince people to do things. But it will only take one or two people to dig in their heels when we don't have the development permit requirements in place and it'll get known that you can do whatever you darn well please as long as don't violate the Fisheries Act. Our ability to protect things may be undermined by this."L1 DFO management felt strongly that success hinged on adoption of DPAs around all streams, and commented that until DPAs were established, the pilot initiative had not really been piloted (F4). They felt there would be a greater workload reduction for senior agencies and improved 175 protection with DPAs (F4). On the other hand, BCE staff felt the initiative had still made gains even without DPAs. "[DFO] felt that without development permit areas established in the OCPs up there that it really wasn't going to get us anywhere. I'm a bit ambivalent on that, I don't know that that's necessarily true. I think that there's a lot of successes to be gained even without having development permit areas established. [...] We're getting reviews on these things that normally we wouldn't have ever seen." p ? Where DPAs were established north of the Oyster River, there was some duplication of effort between partners during initial use of this tool. For example, a landowner submitted a Water Act notification to BCE that existing stream riprap was going to be repaired. When RDCS indirectly found out about the activity, they requested a permit for the removal of vegetation because this property was located within a DPA. By coordinating their efforts, RDCS integrated their request for protecting streamside areas during construction with BCE's request for an hydrological engineering report. Prior to implementation, rezoning applications were submitted to DFO and BCE for review, and their comments were considered by the regional board during final decision-making stages. The Habitat Atlas allowed ESAs to be considered during the earliest stages of the rezoning process, sometimes even before the formal application was submitted. DFO staff commented that land use planning processes like rezoning were improved and more informed with the new processes (F8)(F2). According to file information, there were only four rezoning applications reviewed under the initiative between July 1995 and March 1997. One major proposal involved the owner of five properties along the marine foreshore. In response to the rezoning proposal for one of these properties, which increased the number of allowable lots with a density bonusing agreement, the foreshore area of all five of the properties was designated as an environmentally sensitive DPA where certain development restrictions would apply. Although 176 the review process for this proposal was poorly coordinated in its initial stages, RDCS was able to assume a proactive and coordinating role over time. 7.8.2 Proactive and Protective Development Process Whereas the previous section discussed whether development plans became more proactive at a strategic level, this section discusses whether the process and tools in place to achieve protection during development became more proactive on a site-by-site basis. Prior to implementation, habitat referrals were done in the final stages of the review process, after design plans were in place, and on a site-by-site basis. One interviewee was concerned that the pilot initiative was only streamlining this process and not necessarily making it more protective (F6). "If we don't get beyond writing MOUs about improving the referral process, then we will write fish habitat off. Because frankly that's exactly how the battle is being lost is continuing to respond on a subdivision by subdivision, development by development basis. But I think we're making headway."™ But stream protection issues were considered earlier on in the development process. The Habitat Atlas enabled RDCS to inform landowners during the initial stages of the development process about potential habitat protection issues. "We're taking environmental protection into account at the front end of everything now. That wasn't done before. That can't help but better protect the streams. The Habitat Atlas was the first tool used when an inquiry or application came to RDCS (L2). More habitat information was available than before and in a useful format, which also enabled better protection (F2). Staff looked for stream protection issues whenever they visited a site; in some cases, small streams were identified during the development process and their inadvertent destruction was avoided (L1). With more information used more proactively in the development process, urban stream protection was given a better chance. "Lots of [streams] weren't protected at all [before], (a) because nobody knew they were there until the MOU came along with the Atlas, and (b) because no one looked at building permits, [...] which is the death of a thousand cuts. The 177 cumulative effect of all the small development is equally as destructive as large development."13 More types and numbers of development applications were reviewed for stream protection issues than before, creating more opportunities for protecting streams (L1)(P1). For example, building permits, required whenever a landowner wishes to build, were never reviewed for stream impacts prior to implementation, which meant a lot of missed opportunities for urban stream protection. In the past, DFO and BCE reviewed subdivision plans and recommended vegetated setbacks, but they never had an opportunity to advise individual landowners of protective measures during the building phase to protect the setback and the stream (F8). "The key here is for us to have aquatic habitat interests championed by the regional district staff on our behalf, and to have it move into areas that we previously didn't have any involvement, like building permits. [...] We normally would never have looked at those things, and so that's one huge area that's really been helpful."93 Partner agencies agreed that including building permits (and other kinds of local permits) in the habitat review process was a big gain for habitat protection (L3). From July 1995 to March 1997, almost 50% of all of the applications reviewed under the initiative were building permits and over 70% of these were reviewed solely by RDCS (Table 6.1). Other types of applications filled gaps. ALR applications are submitted to RDCS by landowners whenever a nonagriculture use is proposed for ALR land or a property is proposed to be removed from the ALR; these applications were never submitted to DFO or BCE for habitat concerns, but were reviewed by RDCS for stream impacts under the pilot initiative. RDCS always receives subdivision applications, and they uncovered some applications with habitat issues that the senior agencies had not received from BC MOTH. "[Before the pilot initiative], some of the agencies didn't get all of the referrals, so lots of times the issues were never addressed because the right agencies never got the application. And that happens with MOTH and subdivisions quite a lot too. You would get subdivided lots adjacent to the ocean or near the watersheds for major tributaries and DFO was never referred."13 178 For example, a subdivision application for Mt. Washington ski resort expansion was forwarded to neither BCE nor DFO, and neither received information about the full scale of the expansion because it was built in stages (M-3). But RDCS had a complete understanding of the project and were able to provide recommendations that included water quantity, water quality, and habitat protection measures. No enforceable local tools (i.e., bylaws, regulations, etc.) were developed for the Comox Valley pilot initiative. Only education was used to achieve protection (Section 7.7). If zoning bylaws and DPA regulations were in place, there might be more confidence that stream protection measures were being implemented because they would be legally required as part of development. "We haven't had the regulatory base in the Comox Valley to actually force people to site their houses better and protect streams better, but we certainly have found people willing to do that. [...] Working with people and showing them that it is not a preclusive bit of information, that you're not sterilizing their property and preventing them from doing what they want to do, is a key element to it. If you just said 'that's a stream, you can't do anything' I think you would have found much more resistance and we'd have much more hostility to it. But because it's a tool, one that can be flexible and can be shaped to work on their property, I think it has got real benefit."1"1 Because of the lack of local regulations, recommendations for stream protection measures under this initiative were no stronger than those under the Fisheries Act (FA). In some cases, existing tools were used for habitat protection during the development process. BCE staff felt that, despite gaps, existing bylaws in the Comox Valley still proved to be useful (P3). Restrictive covenants were used in subdivision applications as a condition of approval to ensure streamside setback protection by landowners. Covenants were used by BCE in the past, but RDCS began using them for urban stream protection as well. RDCS staff found that 179 the permitting process they administered for soil removal on ALR land (under the Soil Conservation Act) allowed them to require consideration of stream protection issues as a condition of the permit (L3). For example, a landowner submitted an application for nonagricultural use of ALR land to develop a gravel pit. A soil removal permit was required as part of this application; thus, RDCS staff requested that material be kept away from a stream crossing the property. Density bonusing tools were used by RDCS as another method of protecting ESAs. For example, the rezoning proposal of a foreshore property discussed in the previous section incorporated density bonusing as compensation for the establishment of DPAs on all five of the landowner's foreshore properties. Sometimes existing zoning bylaws were used to avoid damage to streams by denying a development proposal on the legal basis that zoning requirements were not met. For example, a subdivision application was submitted proposing the creation of additional lots on a piece of property in exchange for a small park dedication. But RDCS, supported by DFO and BCE, felt the proposal offered inadequate protection to an adjacent river given the additional septic systems needed to support the development, the cost and impact of bridges needed to access the park area, and the lack of restrictive covenants along the riparian area. The application was refused because it did not meet the property zoning (i.e., the amount of development allowed). 7.8.3 Effective Stream Protection Measures Prior to implementation, any stream protection measures recommended for development proposals were provided by DFO and BCE. RDCS assumed more responsibility for this task. Recommended protection measures were provided by RDCS most often in a letter appended to the permit or approval. Recommendations generally included standard measures to protect streams, as per documents like the Land Development Guidelines and the Stream Stewardship Guide (see Box 7-A and 7-B for examples). Vegetated riparian setbacks were 180 usually recommended, although their width was often inconsistent. In general, a minimum setback of 15 m was recommended whenever possible, but under certain circumstances (e.g., a major river) a wider setback was required. In other cases, a setback less than 15 m in width was allowed. Site-specific needs were often considered (P3). Box 7-A. Examples Building Permits: Of the 139 applications reviewed under the pilot initiative from July 1995 to March 1997, 65 were building permits (Table 6.1). Stream protection measures included: => Protecting 15 m setbacks and vegetation within the setback => Avoiding stormwater discharge from a resort into a nearby wetland => Encouraging stream stewardship, even when properties did not border streams but were in close proximity => Allowing a proposed 4.5 m setback along a fish-bearing ditch for a site where building had already begun => Recommending approval of a 13 m setback for a mobile home along a river with 60 m floodplain setbacks; this recommendation was overturned when BCE water management required a 15 m floodplain setback => Allowing a 10 m setback from a ditch because BCE water management did not define it as a watercourse => Limiting the amount of impervious surface areas in a development => Minimizing the area where machinery operated during construction Water quality issues were also addressed, although less consistently and more broadly. General recommendations such as reducing the use of pesticides along streamside areas and preventing/controlling erosion were often provided. Sometimes, more specific recommendations were provided: "We're going to ask [a developer] to limit the uses in his proposed retail development to preclude such things as hairdressing salons and launderettes because they generate a type of grey water discharge that the septic tank will eventually leak into the Oyster River. That never would have happened before, that never would have occurred to us before to even approach him about that."13 These issues were discussed prior to any formal application being submitted by the developer and enabled more proactive urban stream protection. Stormwater control was also recommended for some larger developments, mostly for protecting water quality. Point source waste management issues were considered under new processes when RDCS received referrals from BCE waste management for discharge permits. RDCS responded to these 181 referrals with more awareness about habitat and environmental issues. The regional board denied approval of one such permit until it could be considered under a LWMP for the region. Water quantity issues such as floodplain development and water use were addressed by BCE water management. The MOU required development of monitoring plans to verify compliance and effectiveness of stream protection measures in approved development proposals (MOU 1995). No formal monitoring program was developed. BCE staff began a compliance audit but it was not completed because of the preliminary stage of development projects at that time, the availability of appropriate file information, the lack of landowner cooperation, and time constraints. Monitoring efforts are planned under the new MOU in association with community groups (P2). "We have no criteria, no monitoring, to identify whether we are having any kind of effect biologically. That's really embarrassing."92 Because there was no compliance monitoring, Box 7-B. Examples Subdivision Applications: Of the 139 development proposals reviewed under the initiative from July 1995 to March 1997, 19 were subdivision applications (Table 6.1). DFO and BCE's involvement reflected the complexity and scale of subdivision developments and their potential impact to aquatic habitat. Stream protection measures included: • Requiring park dedication of a stream covenant, originally required by DFO as part of a fisheries violation out-of-court settlement, and nearby areas as a condition of RDCS approval of the subdivision • Agreeing on a consistent response from all partners for a proposed resort development that required the return of channels to Crown, coastal marsh and stream setbacks, culvert replacement, and no filling coastal channels as conditions of approval • Refusing an application that did not include appropriate setbacks from either an adjacent river or a small stream based on noncompliance with the zoning bylaw there were no data on whether or not landowners complied with recommended stream protection measures. RDCS staff felt that landowners were likely complying, at least during construction, because they generally had a positive reception to the recommendations (L3)(P1). Having stream information available early on reduced uncertainty for developers. 182 One interviewee observed that developers recognized the market value associated with protected riparian areas, and now expected stream protection requirements as part of the process (04). Because of the lack of an enforceable framework, urban stream protection was only enabled by cooperative landowners and developers. For example, a resort developer agreed to the habitat protection and restoration measures recommended by RDCS because these were compatible with the objectives of his development. "From a business perspective, we've got to redevelop the resort. Our notion here and our vision for the resort is that it should be developed in as ecologically sound way that we can find possible, for two reasons. One, in a large part it is the law these days [...]. But from a business perspective, there's an incredible market these days for businesses that can demonstrate the ability to integrate luxury accommodation with environmentally sound practices."03 Recommended stream protection measures for this development included a 30 m vegetated setback along a small river, 15 m untouched and 15 m landscaped with natural vegetation (03). According to the MOU, senior agencies needed to be involved in the review process as soon as there was any change to guidelines (MOU 1995)(L1). However, RDCS wanted some allowance for flexibility so that they were not simply arriving at the same standard conclusions as DFO, and did not have to constantly meet with senior agencies to address all nonstandard situations. Without this degree of flexibility, they felt the time and cost efficiency intended by streamlining the process would not be achieved. RDCS was also concerned with site-specific considerations: "Hard standards work great in undeveloped land where there is little or no human activity. When you attempt to bring those into an area that has already experienced some form of human activity [...] you create either a small risk or, as the density of human activity increases, a large risk of actually [...] having to confiscate somebody's property if you put in a hard setback."1"1 The original intent was to have landowners determine site-specific setbacks if they wished to deviate from strict guidelines (P1). RDCS would still like a clear set of guidelines to determine 183 their degree of flexibility in decision making and enable them to make more independent decisions (L1). They are concerned about trends towards strict setbacks because of the loss of flexibility and education, which is an advantage of this initiative (L1). 7.8.4 Appropriate Enforcement The MOU stated that the pilot initiative did not change legislative authority of the partners (MOU 1995), and many interviewees noted the same. "Ultimately, DFO can not walk away statutorily from its responsibilities under the Fisheries Act. But how it delivers those, there's a lot room for creativity."F1 "You still have to have that hammer out there. Even with all the awareness out there [...]. I don't know, we have a lot of habitat violations on the go in this office and probably far more now than we had 10 years ago. There's a couple of reasons for that. There's more people, more development and there's more awareness, and there's less sympathy by the public for environmental infractions."™ RDCS staff felt that DFO did not use the threat of prosecution as often under new processes (L1). "Ultimately, the final authority rests with them, but their need to pull that out has been minimized."1"1 If local regulations were in place, the Comox Valley pilot initiative might avoid or change enforcement of the Fisheries Act because setbacks and other protective measures could be required through a permitting system, which would shift more enforcement capability to RDCS. Senior agencies saw a potential role for more enforcement by RDCS, but their feelings were mixed. Some DFO staff felt their agency was more consistent in fisheries enforcement than local governments with changing political agendas (F8). RDCS staff did not wish to assume responsibility for fisheries enforcement, although they did recognize they could play a stronger role in enforcement through other means (e.g., bylaw ticketing) (L1). 184 Where senior agency enforcement was necessary, it was facilitated by the Comox Valley pilot initiative. RDCS identified potential enforcement issues observed during site visits to DFO (L3)(F8). If landowners damaged habitat, the Habitat Atlas could also provide a record of existing conditions {12). By providing written recommendations to landowners on stream protection measures, RDCS created a written record that could be used during prosecution to show that landowners were aware of steps to avoid habitat damage. For example, RDCS enforced a vegetation removal covenant and had documentation that showed landowners had been made aware of the conditions of the covenant (L3). Thus, they were able to receive compensation (in this case, replanting of the damaged area). RDCS pursued enforcement without financial support from either DFO or BCE, although both agencies supported enforcement actions. BCE has a policy not to finance civil enforcement issues, so in this case the costs of enforcement were not shared (L3). There was some concern that when recommendations were very specific, enforcement could be hampered if landowners showed they took all the necessary recommended steps and damage still occurred. 185 8. Conclusions and Recommendations from the Case Study Part of the goal of this thesis was to evaluate a new program as a mechanism for improving the existing management processes described in Chapter 2. Strengths of the Comox Valley pilot initiative demonstrate where it improves existing management processes, follows new directions for management from Chapter 3, and evolves urban stream management in BC. But weaknesses can also be identified. These conclusions are presented in this chapter and can help inform and direct ongoing work under the Comox Valley pilot initiative and future efforts in other local areas. There was a high level of agreement and commonality amongst the interviewees. Perhaps this reflects the sample group, who were generally all involved in designing or implementing the initiative at some point; but these people were also able to recognize weaknesses as well. RDCS staff provided some of the most positive comments about the pilot initiative, which is notable given their workload increased since implementation. 8.1 Overall Evaluation of the Comox Valley Pilot Initiative An overall evaluation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative following the thesis evaluation framework is presented in Table 8.1. A broad ranking method (i.e., poor, fair, good, excellent) was used to summarize conclusions based on information presented in Chapter 7. Scores were determined based on the degree to which each framework indicator was achieved. For example, a low score was given if an indicator could have been better achieved by the pilot initiative, or a high score was given if an indicator clearly improved previous processes. This table should not be considered in isolation, given the amount of supporting information in 186 Table 8.1 Overall evaluation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative according to the thesis evaluation framework. Framework Elements Framework Indicators Ranking* INPUTS Clear Program Design Program has clear and consistent objectives Good Program has adequate theory/rationale Fair Participation & Support Appropriate participants are involved Good Participants are supportive of the program Excellent Local implementors are committed and have ownership over the program Excellent Public/community groups are involved and supportive Poor-Fair Provision of Resources Financial resources are provided Good Information is provided in a useful and complete format Good Training and expert advice are provided Fair (training) Good (expert advice) PROCESSES Cooperative Strategies Local organizations have an increased and supported role Good All participants are cooperating together Good Conflicts amongst participants are resolved Excellent Coordination Participant roles are clear Fair Clear procedures/guidelines are followed in decision making Fair Communication amongst participants is improved Good Linkages All appropriate sectors are involved Fair Stream protection issues are integrated into development processes Good Urban stream management is integrated within a watershed context Poor OUTPUTS Education Local organizations are more aware of stream protection issues Good Cross-disciplinary understanding is improved Good Public education is facilitated Poor (public) Good (landowners) Land Use Planning & Development Control Local land use planning is more proactive and protective Poor Local development processes are more proactive and protective Poor (tools) Good (processes) Effective stream protection measures are recommended Fair Appropriate enforcement continues n/a These rankings are provided for summary purposes only and should not be considered in isolation of information in Chapter 7. 187 Chapter 7. This ranking system also provides future evaluations with a comparative benchmark. Often, program evaluation exercises consider the original objectives of an initiative and evaluate whether these objectives were achieved to determine success. As discussed in Chapter 4, this evaluation of the Comox Valley pilot initiative instead focuses on the evaluation framework developed by the thesis. However, a brief review of the MOU objectives reveals that most were achieved. More detail on some of these themes is provided in Section 8.2. 1. "Increase trust among the signatories" - interagency relationships became more open and cooperative. 2. "Replace existing agency-by-agency referral approach" - the referral system was improved in some cases, but was still used. In particular, senior agency involvement in the referral process for subdivision approvals remained largely unchanged. 3. "Achieve the benefits of collaboration" - these benefits include the sharing of resources, improved interagency relationships, and the effective use of resources; many of these benefits were achieved. 4. "Boost the effective use of resources" - the compilation of existing information in the Habitat Atlas was an effective use of information resources. Human resources were used more effectively to expand habitat protection, but workloads did not decrease. 5. "Result in sharing of information and technical support" - information was shared through the use of the Habitat Atlas, and DFO and BCE provided RDCS with ongoing expert advice and joint reviews where necessary. All partners felt they had learned more about each others mandates and responsibilities. 6. "Develop a resource database" - the Habitat Atlas was developed prior to implementation. 188 7. "Use applicable agreed-upon guidelines, criteria and standards" - guidelines such as the Land Development Guidelines were used by RDCS, but no set of guidelines was explicitly indicated. Guidelines were used flexibly. 8. "Include a dispute resolution mechanism" - a mechanism was included, but no conflicts occurred to trigger its use. 9. "Use existing legislation" - new legislation was not developed; partners relied on existing local bylaws and the Fisheries Act. 10. "Result in no increased cost to any signatory" - a cost analysis was not completed as part of this thesis. Given the increased workload of RDCS and unchanged workload of senior agencies, as well as ongoing efforts to improve the Habitat Atlas and create linkages with local environmental NGOs, the Comox Valley pilot initiative likely did result in some increased costs. These costs were partially compensated by senior agency funding (i.e., Urban Salmon Habitat Program). 8.2 Key Strengths and Weaknesses The following conclusions are designed to build upon the thesis evaluation framework, look more broadly at the themes that emerge from the synthesis of results presented in Chapter 7, and summarize the key strengths and weaknesses of the Comox Valley pilot initiative. The themes discussed below include: • program direction; • committed local government; • supportive senior agencies; • more involved public; • shared information and expertise; • stronger interagency relationships; 189 • modified referral processes; • opportunities for education; • delayed local regulatory framework; • limited monitoring and enforcement; • lack of a watershed perspective; and • fragile program sustainability. Summarizing strengths and weaknesses of the Comox Valley pilot initiative in a linear manner proved difficult. Some strengths still exhibited vulnerabilities, and some initial weaknesses were improved over time. A summary of the main themes discussed in the following subsections, and their strengths and/or weaknesses is included in Table 8.2. Weaknesses generally reflected the transitional nature of the Comox Valley pilot initiative as it moves forward along a continuum of evolving urban stream management processes. These weaknesses point the direction for future improvements (see recommendations made in Section 8.3). Literature sources are used to elaborate observations. 8.2.1 Program Direction The initiative was guided by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was developed by all of the partners. The MOU provided staff with written guidance about what could broadly be expected from the initiative, and provided a common purpose focused on improving the review process for aquatic habitat. This purpose was not questioned by staff, but some external observers commented that it might have weakened the initiative by limiting its potential. However, the background to this initiative and its policy setting need to be considered before drawing such a conclusion. The Comox Valley pilot initiative was only one initiative designed to address one problem, and a clear purpose made it easier to address this problem (i.e., 190 Table 8.2 Summary table of main themes of the Comox Valley pilot initiative and their key strengths and weaknesses. Main Themes Key Strengths and Weaknesses Program direction The purpose and objectives of the MOU provided direction to the initiative, but an over-focused purpose could limit its potential. Objectives and operational procedures were vague and caused implementation problems, but the pilot initiative needed to be flexible Committed local government RDCS was committed to the initiative, including at the political level, and had ownership over it. Supportive senior agencies Some senior agency staff were supportive of the initiative and provided resources during MOU design. But because the offices responsible for implementation were not adequately involved at this stage, senior agency staff were less supportive during initial implementation. They became equally supportive overtime. More involved public Public involvement was minimal because the initiative was addressing an administrative process, but a role for community groups as an information source emerged over time. Shared information and expertise Information resources were improved by the Habitat Atlas, but it remained inaccurate and incomplete. Ongoing technical support was provided, but training was minimal. Cross-disciplinary education was facilitated, supporting interagency relationships and increasing RDCS understanding. Stronger interagency relationships Cooperation reduced the perception of downloading. Agencies worked together through joint review processes, and improved communication. Improved relationships could provide benefits outside the program. Modified referral process Review processes became more proactive, more coordinated and more complete, but there was still a reliance on referrals and fragmented decision making. Opportunities for education There were more opportunities for landowner education. Public education was facilitated but could be more effective. Delayed local regulatory framework No local regulatory framework was developed, but existing tools and education were used. The Habitat Atlas was an unofficial plan to protect streamside areas. Limited monitoring and enforcement Appropriate stream protection measures were recommended, but there was no compliance monitoring to ensure they were implemented. Opportunities for Fisheries Act enforcement increased. Lack of a watershed perspective The initiative only considered the effects of urban development on streamside areas and not the multiple activities in a watershed that deteriorate stream health, but it was not intended to provide watershed-level protection. Fragile program sustainability The initiative benefited from available funding and new review processes are likely self sufficient, but ongoing funding is needed to update the Habitat Atlas. Less funding in the future could decrease levels of effort at the local level. Senior agency workload remained unchanged, but it was anticipated the initiative could reduce this workload. 191 improving the development review process). This initiative was only one of a series of initiatives under DFO's Comox Valley Habitat Pilot Project (Chapter 6) that were all born from the need to protect coho salmon and fish habitat. Staff recognized that the ultimate goal of the initiative (and of the referral process) was to protect habitat during development. The MOU also provided common objectives and procedures to follow but the vague nature of these objectives was a problem. Clear guidance for staff about how the initiative was to proceed was lacking, and resulted in confusion and communication problems in early stages of implementation. Thus, because the initiative was poorly articulated to implementers and helpful guidelines were unavailable, its "implementation capacity" was reduced (as in Barrett and Fudge 1981, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). Although it can be argued that a local program, particularly a pilot initiative, requires some flexibility in its design to address site-specific needs, a certain amount of clear direction is needed. If staff had been less committed to the Comox Valley pilot initiative, the initial confusion caused by this lack of direction (especially within senior agencies) could have threatened implementation. These problems were addressed over time as partners developed operational procedures; the revised MOU refers to some guideline documents (MOU 1997). The vague nature of the MOU allowed participants to stylize the Comox Valley pilot initiative, which may have attributed to their high level of support and commitment during implementation. 8.2.2 Committed Local Government The commitment of the RDCS regional board, management, and staff to the Comox Valley pilot initiative strengthened this locally-based program. The interest and leadership within this local government drew senior agencies to the Comox Valley to initiate this type of innovation. RDCS's interest in the initiative continued to grow as they were involved in designing the MOU and the Habitat Atlas. It was clear that they had ownership over the processes and tools as a 192 result, which is critical for locally-based cooperative initiatives (May 1995). Local political will also grew with the provision of "gifts" (i.e., Habitat Atlas, agency support), ensuring that implementation could move forward. Various authors note that local political will is critical for successful local initiatives and is critical for implementation (Dovetail 1996, Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). RDCS remain committed to the initiative despite increased workloads; whether this support would continue at existing levels without the availability of USHP funding is questionable. If RDCS and its staff were less committed and supportive, implementation would be impossible because of their central role. 8.2.3 Supportive Senior Agencies Senior agency supportiveness for the Comox Valley pilot initiative changed over time. During design, DFO Vancouver and BCE Victoria were highly supportive. DFO and BCE Nanaimo apparently showed little interest and expressed concerns about the initiative, and the other offices assumed responsibility and took leadership. This lack of involvement of the Nanaimo offices during design was unfortunate. Without their involvement in the design stage, there were bound to be logistical problems in implementation, especially for BCE because of the noninvolvement of waste and water management. RDCS and BCE Victoria staff were aware of BCE Nanaimo's concerns and should have anticipated implementation problems; however, operational procedures were not completely clarified during design, so these potential problems could not be predicted. During initial implementation, senior agency supportiveness faltered as responsibility shifted to DFO and BCE Nanaimo. To exasperate these problems, communication was initially weak between senior agency management and technical staff. These problems were addressed during implementation, as a result of improved communication amongst partners (i.e., meetings) and the commitment of RDCS and other 193 staff. Once BCE and DFO staff worked with the initiative, they saw its advantages and were highly supportive. Support at both management and technical levels was critical. Despite communication problems between BCE Victoria and Nanaimo offices, the involvement of BCE Victoria during the initial stages of implementation set the right tone for RDCS. This may be a result of the personalities involved, and emphasizes the importance of program champions. Once they became involved, BCE and DFO technical staff had less direct involvement, which was probably appropriate at that point because RDCS had gained an increased awareness. Communication lines remained open and strengthened the pilot initiative. 8.2.4 More Involved Public During design and initial implementation, the lack of public involvement in the Comox Valley pilot initiative did not meet the goals of local environmental NGOs and DFO, who wanted to increase public decision making in habitat protection. In an internal evaluation by DFO, the initiative was given a low score for public involvement (Furlong 1997). But during implementation, it became clear to all of the partner agencies and some community groups that a role for special interest groups was inappropriate within the administrative processes addressed by the initiative. RDCS also did not address public communication needs. Although records could be accessed by the public if necessary, meeting minutes were not consistently available and no public evaluation was completed, as required in the MOU. The revised MOU states that files and records will be a matter of public record (MOU 1997), reflecting a more practical level of effort but decreasing opportunities for public comment. Although RDCS's ongoing planning processes have incorporated public consultation, the public was not directly involved in the Comox Valley pilot initiative. This lack of public 194 involvement was unfortunate given current trends towards involving the public in consensus-based decision-making processes, and the recognition that program implementation is improved when formal access to outsiders is provided (as in Mazmanian and Sabatier 1989). The Comox Valley pilot initiative evolved the role of local government in environmental decision making, but did not do the same for the role of the public. Over time, a role evolved for local environmental NGOs as an information resource and they affected decision making by improving the information used in the process. RDCS was developing an agreement with Project Watershed to formalize their role in data collection, monitoring, and public education. This level of involvement provides far less direct interaction or influence of the public, but does support decision making (Dorcey et al. 1994). Some of the concern with increasing public involvement stems from the fact that environmental NGOs and other special interest groups are not always accountable to the community and often represent unbalanced perspectives. However, in the right forum, their input may also help decision makers. Perhaps more organized or targeted forms of public involvement would better meet the needs of RDCS. 8.2.5 Shared Information and Expertise The Habitat Atlas addressed existing limitations by bringing senior agency technical information on ESAs to the local level in a useful format. It improved stream stewardship, which many authors note requires the identification of ESAs (DFO et al. 1994, Sandborn 1996). As testament to its functionality, habitat atlases have been provided to other regional districts on Vancouver Island, in central BC, and the Lower Fraser Valley by DFO. Key strengths of the Habitat Atlas included: • It combined fisheries information with land use planning information so that local government could use biological information in their jobs. RDCS staff strongly approved of this tool. 195 • The Habitat Atlas visually displayed information. Considering that fisheries information available prior to development of the Habitat Atlas primarily consisted of information in a federal/provincial database, this was a great improvement. • More streams and other sensitive habitat (e.g., foreshore area, marshlands) were identified than in previous information sources. The information in the Habitat Atlas facilitated more local responsibility for urban stream management, and provision of this tool made the initiative more acceptable to RDCS. But some information in the Habitat Atlas was missing and/or inaccurate. It was because of this inaccuracy that some senior agency staff had little initial support for development of this tool. Although it would remain useful in its current form, the Habitat Atlas drives RDCS's review processes and will improve the process if it is more accurate and complete. The ongoing provision of senior agency technical support strengthened this locally-based initiative and increased local awareness. It also resulted in cross-disciplinary and cross-agency education, which many observers note is a strength of an interagency partnership (Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). Cross-disciplinary education helped improve interagency relationships, but targeted training was minimal. Without training, local capacity building, which is critical for cooperative intergovernmental efforts (May 1995), is decreased and senior agencies may be involved in the process more frequently than necessary. Because RDCS staff were committed to learning about stream protection and expert advice was provided by senior agencies on an ongoing basis, this did not cause severe problems. But if different personalities had been involved, a lack of training could have weakened processes and outputs. A more formal training curriculum would clarify important issues to local staff and would facilitate training of new staff. Senior agencies learned from past experiences and a training module for wildlife habitat was planned as the initiative expanded under the revised MOU. 196 8.2.6 Interagency Relationships In the past, the partner agencies rarely spoke to each other and decisions were made in isolation. Because the Comox Valley pilot initiative was cooperative, partners were given the opportunity to work together. They met to discuss proposals when necessary and created a joint-review process, which is a recommended strategy for reducing isolation and fragmentation in decision making (Dovetail 1994, Kennett 1990). By working together, senior agencies were given access to an increased level of effort and some development control tools for habitat protection, and RDCS was given access to senior agency support, thus avoiding the perception of downloading. By focusing on cooperation, the initiative improved communication and decision making, avoided downloading, and eventually improved agency relationships. The relationships that developed were strong, and could benefit staff and agencies outside of the initiative as well (e.g., development issues outside of the Comox Valley, future updating of the Habitat Atlas). 8.2.7 Modified Referral Process The Comox Valley pilot initiative was designed to decrease reliance on the referral process (Chapter 2). Limitations with the habitat referral process influenced the design of this initiative. The development review process improved in a number of significant ways: • By using the Habitat Atlas, stream presence guided the review process and enabled it to be more proactive. • Most of the types of development proposals reviewed under the initiative were never reviewed under the referral process. • More complete and consistent reviews and site visits were done. • RDCS created more of a single window of review and response and screened more applications, which improved coordination and efficiency (as in DFO et al. 1994, Dovetail 197 1994). When RDCS acted independently, it reduced the number of agencies involved in decision making. • Gaps were filled; for example, RDCS received subdivision applications that were mistakenly not forwarded to senior agencies. This was a result of the increased awareness of RDCS staff. • Communication was improved so that decisions could be made as a group when necessary and were supported by all three partner agencies. • RDCS was given opportunities to take a more integrative, multidisciplinary approach to local planning and development, which is recommended for new processes (as in Dorcey 1991, Dovetail and John Talbot & Associates 1995). These are the types of improvements recommended in the literature for referral processes (e.g., Dorcey 1986, McPhee et al. 1993). But in some cases it seemed the partners had simply found a better way of working together to complete referrals as opposed to replacing the referral process. All of the agencies still reviewed subdivision applications, sometimes they all made a response (although they may not have needed to visit the site), and because BCE still prepared integrated Ministry responses, there was some duplication of effort. Duplication was decreased to a certain extent when RDCS prepared a response that BCE simply copied into the Ministry response. If both senior agencies were involved in development review, confusion sometimes resurfaced; for example, BCE agreed to a 7.5 m setback when DFO requested a 15 m setback, but at a different site BCE requested a 30 m setback when DFO agreed to a 15 m setback. Such inconsistencies emphasized the need for coordination by RDCS. Fragmented decision making was still evident; for example, because water management issues were not included, floodplain issues (e.g., variances to setbacks) were addressed through referrals, and responses were sometimes incompatible with habitat protection. RDCS seemed to want to assume more responsibility and appropriate authority under the initiative and decrease senior 198 agency involvement. However, that did not seem possible from BCE's perspective without expanding the scope to include water and waste issues. Also, it seemed as though BCE and DFO staff still wanted to be involved in the development review process to a certain extent. Changes to review processes have unfolded over time, and will continue to move forward; for example, RDCS will assume subdivision authority from BC MOTH in the near future which should clarify roles, further reduce fragmentation, and allow RDCS to take a more independent role. 8.2.8 Opportunities for Education The pilot initiative provided more opportunities for landowner education, although this was not explicitly included in the original design. The responses prepared by RDCS on the potential habitat impacts from building permits disseminated stream protection information to an audience that was not necessarily aware of these issues or targeted in such a way before. An internal DFO evaluation of the initiative gave it a moderate-high score for increasing awareness (Furlong 1997). Education was relied upon to achieve urban stream protection because of a lack of enforceable tools, but education of streamside property owners is also recognized to be a critical part of Stream Stewardship (DFO et al. 1994, Dovetail 1996). Education is also a flexible way to achieve improved protection given RDCS's limitations in reducing the uses of private land (i.e., property sterilization). There was also an increased understanding of stream protection issues by RDCS management and staff, and this reportedly extended to the political level as well. To a certain extent, the initiative also increased the awareness of the general public, but because no active public outreach was completed, this could be improved. Future linkages between RDCS and Project Watershed might support wider dissemination of information to the general public as the pilot initiative moves forward. 199 8.2.9 Delayed Local Regulatory Framework Local land use plans provide an opportunity to use habitat information to guide development at a strategic level, instead of only considering it on a site-by-site basis. For example, plans can guide development away from sensitive areas or influence development patterns that reduce impervious areas. Land use plans did not become very proactive under the Comox Valley pilot initiative because a revised OCP was not adopted. Because the regional board did not adopt the OCP, it could be perceived that their commitment to protect fish habitat weakened; however, this decision was affected by other factors (e.g., growth management). The initiative was intended to give senior agencies access to the land use plans and development control tools of RDCS. But because a revised OCP was not adopted, neither were specific regulatory tools (e.g., DPAs) adopted to directly protect streams, except for a small area north of the Oyster River. Recognizing ESAs within local plans and bylaws is an important part of Stream Stewardship (DFO et al. 1994), and this lack of an enforceable framework was a weakness. It also affected partner relationships, especially with DFO management who felt that the initiative was greatly limited without DPAs. Staff used existing bylaws, education, moral suasion, and some bluffing to request stream protection measures. But protection measures were still recommendations, not requirements. Without regulations, there was less certainty that protection measures were actually implemented, although there still may be noncompliance when regulations are in effect. Despite the lack of a revised OCP and bylaws, the Habitat Atlas was used as a pseudo-plan because it: • delineated areas where special consideration was needed and helped guide decision making; 200 • was visually based and identified "zones" using fisheries planning boundaries; • helped developers plan their development and see where special protection measures would be needed; and • could allow community members to identify sensitive areas and voice their concerns. Other plans and tools were developed for the valley to similarly guide land use decision making: • A Community Greenways Plan was adopted by RDCS regional board in 1997 and included streamside areas as part of proposed greenways. It was used by staff during the development process and for park planning. • An existing DPA for commercial resort developments required proper stormwater management. • An upcoming LWMP will guide waste management decision making, possibly including NPS pollution. • Community-driven plans (e.g., Millard-Piercy watershed management plan) could provide recommendations for RDCS plans, policies, and processes. 8.2.10 Limited Monitoring and Enforcement Recommended stream protection measures were provided for most approved developments in streamside areas under this initiative. The protection measures recommended on a site-by-site basis were appropriate for reducing the impacts of development on urban streams. They were typical of measures included in the Land Development Guidelines and the Stream Stewardship Guide. But compliance monitoring was not completed to determine if measures were implemented by landowners. Thus, the right recommendations were made but RDCS did not know whether they were actually implemented. Effectiveness monitoring, to determine if implemented measures actually protected streams, was also not completed. A lack of 201 monitoring was a weakness of this initiative, but it is a weakness of many government programs. Because there were more staff involved in habitat protection under the Comox Valley pilot initiative, there were more opportunities for enforcement under the Fisheries Act. RDCS staff identified a number of potential fisheries violations, and actively pursued enforcement of covenants. Although enforcement of this type of legislation was reactive, because damage had already occurred, it did provide opportunities for the partners to demonstrate their commitment to habitat protection. This is particularly important for covenants, which are known to have a low degree of compliance (Inglis et al. 1995). 8.2.11 Lack of a Watershed Perspective The Comox Valley pilot initiative was not intended to be a watershed protection tool, and was specifically designed to focus on an achievable purpose. As a result, it only addressed the effects of urban development on streamside areas. It did not follow watershed boundaries and excluded municipalities within the valley. It did not address the multiple activities in upland areas of the watershed that can deteriorate stream health (Binford and Bucheneau 1993). If streamside habitat is protected but water quantity is not addressed, streams could be lost regardless. Riparian habitat is critical and protected streamside areas minimize water quality and quantity impacts (Chilibeck et al. 1992, Millar et al. 1997), but the initiative only addressed one part of a larger problem. This limitation was partly due to provincial water and waste issues not being included, and partly due to the lack of a watershed perspective throughout the governance structure. 202 8.2.12 Program Sustainability One clearly stated objective of the MOU was that new processes result in no increased costs to any of the partners (MOU 1995). The referral process was considered to be too costly for the level of protection it provided. Cost issues are not really addressed in this evaluation because of the difficulty of measuring costs in any kind of administrative process, but the long-term future of the initiative does depend on cost issues to a certain extent. The Comox Valley pilot initiative benefited from the availability of funding but was intended to become self sufficient. Criticisms from various staff recognized that the short-term mentality of funding often does not allow initiatives to fully evolve. The process in place seems to have become part of each agency's daily operations and should be able to continue over time. However, there are a number of cost issues that could threaten the sustainability of the initiative: • Ongoing funding will be necessary to ensure the Habitat Atlas is improved and remains current. The initiative will be less effective without a complete information source; the problem with many management processes in the past has been a lack of appropriate information (McPhee et al. 1993, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation 1996). If the Habitat Atlas became RDCS's responsibility, funding for updating the Habitat Atlas might be even more limited. • RDCS workload increased and this may not be able to continue at current workload levels without ongoing USHP funding. If budgets became even more restrictive at the local level, the initiative might be threatened if RDCS decreased its level of effort. • Senior agency workloads remained unchanged. Thus, for the same level of effort they had more opportunities for protection (because RDCS was working with them). But it was anticipated that their workloads would decrease as a result of sharing resources and working with local government. It seems unlikely that senior workloads could decrease without more delegation of responsibility and appropriate authority to local government by 203 senior agencies. Over time, DFO and BCE became comfortable with RDCS taking more of an independent role, and RDCS will likely continue to work more independently. 8.3 BuL.Js it Protecting Urban Streams? As discussed in Chapter 4, the outcome of improved urban stream protection is not specifically included in the evaluation framework and is not discussed in Chapter 7. Ultimately, decision makers, concerned public, and researchers want to know whether the Comox Valley pilot initiative resulted in an outcome of better stream protection. This is the reason why any urban stream management program is initiated. In this case, there was also a desire to streamline the review process for administrative reasons, but at the most fundamental level this was done to improve urban stream protection. The interviewees provide some insight into this question: "I personally feel that [the MOU] is a help in protecting fish habitat. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It's more helpful than what we get in other areas of the regional district where we don't have an MOU."F 5 "I'm not sure if we've gained or not on this. I think the real gain we have is more eyes out there and incorporating fish protection measures in ways we were never able to before (i.e., building permits)."™ "We're taking environmental protection into account at the front end of everything now. That wasn't done before. That can't help but better protect the streams." "[Streams must be better protected] because of the incidence that [RDCS is] out there, that they see things, that they're in communication with the public, that they know what to look for because of the training that they have had from us, and there's a process available to them if they have concerns or problems."P3 "Case by case I guess there is an advantage to [streamlining the process]. Overall I think there's so much development that I don't think its done an inadequate job. There's definitely more loss than there is gain. My hope is that that kind of information base and improved referral process would provide gains for fish habitat and ecosystem health. [It needs] community support and involvement."01 "[Streams are better protected] because there's more people cooperating to protect them at that level and that's going to spin off to more individual work to protect them." 0 1 "It did get the three governments together and it did protect fish habitat -1 know there's a lot of controversy about how much fish habitat it protected but I really 204 think that even minimal protection leads to serious protection in the future. So I'd say that meets our goal."F 2 'You could really argue that we've identified a whole bunch of new streams and that by doing that the potential is there to protect more streams because we know they exist. " F 7 This thesis does not measure urban stream protection. It looks at the inputs, processes, and outputs and concludes that there have been more opportunities for protection under this initiative than before. First, the Habitat Atlas included many small streams and sensitive areas that were not identified in previous data sources used by RDCS, DFO, or BCE. Second, there were more types and numbers of inquiries reviewed than before and habitat protection efforts expanded. Referral processes were often incomplete (Dorcey 1986,Sandborn 1996) and some of these gaps were filled by the Comox Valley pilot initiative. Finally, review responses from RDCS provided information on stream stewardship and educated landowners about stream protection. Expanding public education also expands habitat protection and promotes more proactive protection. An internal evaluation of the initiative by DFO gave it a moderate-high score for habitat protection (Furlong et al. 1997). The Comox Valley pilot initiative was not intended to stop development. None of the 139 development proposals reviewed under the initiative from July 1995 to March 1997 were refused, but most proceeded with some consideration of urban stream protection. Some proposals may have been screened out prior to the review stage as landowners changed their plans for development once they became aware of limitations on their property due to stream presence; no records are available to quantify this. Although responses to development proposals incorporated increased setbacks from streams and other protection measures, some responses approved minimal setbacks because of site conditions, which reflects on the consistency of protection as well as the reality of local government management processes. There were some cases when community members were dissatisfied with the limitations of the 205 Comox Valley pilot initiative and land use planning for protecting streams. For example, a development was proposed that involved lowering the water level of a marsh. New review processes did not apply in this case, primarily because water management issues were not included in the pilot initiative. The community's perception was that it could protect streams, but the reality was that it could protect fish habitat within the jurisdictions of its signatories. In another example, the community thought the initiative could be used to restrict land uses and prevent a sawmill from operating in a semi-rural community. Again, this did not reflect the reality of what it could achieve. The strengths of this pilot initiative represent a significant achievement over previous processes and the level of commitment was impressive. There were some weaknesses during implementation that were addressed as the new processes evolved. The Comox Valley pilot initiative better integrated urban development and stream protection and improved referral processes that were previously characterized by isolated and incomplete decision making. 8.4 Recommendations for Improvements Some weaknesses have been addressed over the course of implementation, but as the Comox Valley pilot initiative continues to evolve there are other opportunities for improvement. These recommendations apply most specifically to this initiative, but also reflect how new programs in other local areas could improve upon the ideas developed by this approach. Some recommendations were inspired by comments and suggestions made by interviewees, but most recommendations are designed to improve upon the various weaknesses discussed in Section 8.2. Many of these recommendations have associated costs that are not discussed in detail; however, some of the following recommendations may also decrease costs over time if they are implemented. 206 8.4.1 Involve Participants in Program Design Although efforts were made to involve BCE and DFO Nanaimo offices in design of the MOU, Vancouver and Victoria offices of both agencies took the lead. If BCE Nanaimo had been more involved in program design, some of the internal confusion about how the initiative fit into their integrated referral process might have been avoided. Recommendations to address this weakness include: • Future initiatives should make every effort to involve implementing partners in program design, especially when an initiative is very site-specific. • Partners that will be involved in implementation should be solicited for their input during program design and their concerns should be addressed. At some point, decisions will need to be made to move forward with interested partners and capitalize on timing, funding, etc., as happened in the Comox Valley pilot initiative. However, future initiatives should still consider this recommendation. Despite best efforts, it is likely that not all people involved in implementing a program will have participated in its design. Therefore, strong communication is needed at implementation to ensure all participants understand the objectives and operational procedures. BCE and DFO staff responsible for day-to-day delivery of the Comox Valley pilot initiative were not properly informed about the initiative and did not initially understand what was expected from them. The vague nature of the MOU added to this confusion. Better communication at implementation would have addressed these types of problems and still allowed flexibility in how the Comox Valley pilot initiative evolved site-specifically. It is recommended that: • Future initiatives include a start-up meeting with all participants. 207 These recommendations may have improved initial implementation, but in reality, how the initiative unfolded may have shaped its survival. Perhaps if start-up had happened differently (e.g., with less direct involvement of BCE Victoria) the initiative would have achieved less. However, with different players involved (e.g., less committed local staff, no effort to clarify issues), these problems could also have undermined the pilot initiative and should be avoided in the future. 8.4.2 Continue Improving the Habitat Atlas Ensuring the Habitat Atlas is an accurate and complete source of information is critical as land use information changes over time and new biophysical information is uncovered. Efforts spent creating the Habitat Atlas should not be wasted by allowing it to become outdated and less useable. A current and accurate Habitat Atlas will become critical once OCPs are adopted that include DPAs. At that time, the OCP will refer to the Habitat Atlas and it will become a legal document. Any aquatic habitat not identified could be challenged by landowners as being excluded from DPA guidelines. Ongoing improvements to the Habitat Atlas also create a role for local environmental NGOs who have assumed substantial responsibility for groundtruthing and providing new information. If no effort is made to incorporate this local information into the Habitat Atlas, it will have less credibility and public involvement in the initiative will be very limited. Steps have been developed to facilitate transfer of new information between local environmental NGOs, RDCS, and DFO. Recommendations to facilitate the continued improvement of the Habitat Atlas include: • New information gathered by RDCS and local NGOs should continue to be recorded in a working copy of the Habitat Atlas. 208 • To address issues about the accuracy of information collected by community groups, a quality assurance program should be developed (e.g., 20% of information checked for accuracy). • A schedule for updating the Habitat Atlas should be proposed and followed to ensure new information is captured. • If possible, stream and/or road names should be added to the Habitat Atlas. The question of who should be responsible for the Habitat Atlas is difficult. It is anticipated that RDCS will eventually become responsible for updating the Habitat Atlas. The information is used at the local level and should be maintained at that level. Although RDCS has improved its inhouse capabilities and felt capable of assuming this responsibility as long as funding was available, they may not have technical capabilities and access to information sources on par with DFO. RDCS is already questioning whether the use of orthophotos, which many Habitat Atlas users agreed were very valuable, could be supported given the costs, and local government budgets are often restrictive. Meanwhile, limited resources within DFO will likely not allow them to fill this role over the long term, and DFO has already suffered delays in producing the second update of the Habitat Atlas. Recommendations include: • RDCS should be responsible for maintaining the Habitat Atlas on a timely basis. • Senior agencies should maintain a role in updating the Habitat Atlas, perhaps in data quality assurance or in final production stages for each update. If the pilot initiative was expanded, there are more types of information that could be added to the Habitat Atlas to make it more complete. For example, groundwater sources could be mapped to avoid contamination by septic systems, damaged stream habitat could be mapped to identify restoration opportunities, or streams with dangerously low flows could be highlighted to avoid further damage. Ultimately, this could become a complete geographic information 209 system (GIS) for the watershed, which would allow analysis of watershed conditions and support more holistic decision making. However, considering the costs, such a system may be unlikely. 8.4.3 Develop Training Material Training is needed as part of Stream Stewardship to increase staff expertise (DFO et al. 1994). Targeted training under the Comox Valley pilot initiative has been limited. Training resources should be developed to ensure the information gained by RDCS is not lost, and to help new staff in their orientation. A training curriculum for stream protection and wildlife habitat was planned by BCE and should be completed. Recommendations include: • A procedure manual should be completed by RDCS. This procedure manual could be reviewed and discussed with all partner agencies as a means of reviewing the processes in place and identifying redundancies. • Senior agencies should develop a training curriculum designed to educate new staff and refresh existing staff about types of impacts and stream protection measures (as recommended in Dovetail 1994). • Funding should be secured to send RDCS staff to more training courses. 8.4.4 Clarify Roles and Decrease Redundancy The Comox Valley pilot initiative improved agency communication, streamlined procedures, used cooperation, and created more opportunities for habitat protection. However, it needs to continue moving forward. The initiative was designed to allow a flexible degree of DFO and BCE involvement. But meaningful partnerships need to clearly establish responsibility and appropriate authority, including partner roles, expected functions, and specific tasks (Dovetail 210 and John Talbot & Associates 1995). In order to clarify roles, decrease administrative redundancy, and continue to improve existing processes, recommendations include: • Procedures should be clarified so senior agencies only need to be involved if guidelines are varied for subdivision proposals. • More responsibilities should be consolidated within RDCS, with appropriate authority. Cooperation amongst levels of government should support flexible interpretations of policies and guidelines (May 1995). In order to allow RDCS more flexibility on involving senior agencies in reviews and to maintain some senior agency involvement in development review, senior agencies should only be involved in site-by-site reviews for subdivision proposals. During quarterly meetings, RDCS would summarize development applications and inquiries that have been reviewed, but discussions would centre around current subdivision applications. Certainly, senior agencies would be available for input into other development proposals at RDCS request, but RDCS would be given more flexibility in their decision making (i.e., they could have authority to vary setbacks in the Land Development Guidelines). The MOU states that minor variations of guidelines may be approved, in concert with DFO and BCE. Senior agencies need to accept that they may not know about everything going on and put the confidence they claim to have in RDCS into action. Senior agency staff have confidence in RDCS staff and new processes have moved in this direction naturally; it just needs to be made more clear within existing procedures. More responsibilities and appropriate authority need to be consolidated at the local level to continue decreasing administrative redundancy. Recent steps are moving towards this end; for example, wildlife habitat was included in the revised MOU (MOU 1997) and RDCS will be assuming authority from BC MOTH for subdivisions. A government decision to eliminate the referral process is unlikely, and it will likely continue to be used in the Comox Valley, especially 211 without the involvement of BCE waste and water management pilot initiative. But when RDCS assumes subdivision authority, there may be more opportunity to integrate provincial concerns. For example, BCE waste and water could provide comments for RDCS to integrate with habitat issues. Because of their relationship with RDCS under the Comox Valley pilot initiative, BCE could be more confident that their Ministry response was integrated, and they would have the opportunity to discuss it with RDCS. Given BCE's strong position on integrated Ministry responses, they may rather see RDCS assume more responsibility for waste and water issues. But shifting more responsibility to local government would reduce reliance on referrals, especially if paired with changes in authority as well (e.g., subdivision authority within RDCS, local bylaws in place). 8.4.5 Continue Linkages with Local Environmental NGOs With the right linkages, plans and programs can work towards a common purpose to protect aquatic resources. Not only can these kinds of linkages strengthen watershed protection, they can strengthen each other by avoiding duplication of effort and sharing resources, efforts, and information. The Comox Valley pilot initiative and RDCS is limited in what it can do to protect streams and needs support from other initiatives (Section 8.3.9). For example, as linkages have developed between RDCS and local environmental NGOs, better information has been collected for the Habitat Atlas with no direct cost to RDCS. Based on recent experiences, there is an enthusiasm by RDCS planning staff to work with NGOs. Thus, recommendations include: • RDCS should continue working with local environmental NGOs and strengthening linkages. • The formal agreement between RDCS and Project Watershed must be completed to provide this group with a clear link to local government initiatives. 212 Roles for local environmental NGOs in Stream Stewardship can include providing information and education (deShield and Romaine 1997, DFO et al. 1994). Local environmental NGOs could improve public education with support from RDCS. For example, the Habitat Atlas could be an effective public education tool to target landowners that may not be involved in the development review process and therefore have not been educated by RDCS. People need access to this type of information to promote community stewardship (Sustainable Fisheries Foundation 1996); landowners need to be educated not only on measures to take during construction but also on measures to take over the long term. Local environmental NGOs can fill this role. One option would be to do a mail-out to all streamside property owners of information on stream protection measures. Information for this type of program is being produced under a national project entitled Living by Water. Recommendations include: • RDCS should ensure local environmental NGOs like Project Watershed are given information and support to fill a public education role (e.g., copies of the Habitat Atlas, grants-in-aid). 8.4.6 Increase Public Communication and Involvement In addition to strengthening linkages to local environmental NGOs, more general public involvement is important and would improve the initiative (Dorcey 1991). To promote involvement, public communication needs to be improved so that more people are aware of the pilot initiative and other efforts by RDCS. Thus, recommendations include: • Minutes of quarterly meetings should be prepared to provide a record of group decision making. • A public meeting should be held to inform the community about the initiative's progress and solicit questions and suggestions for improvement, as required in the original MOU. 213 • An article in the local newspaper or a regional district fact sheet could be prepared outlining what has been accomplished under the initiative. These measures would not only open the lines of communication between the local government and its community, but would also provide RDCS with an opportunity to highlight one of the steps it has taken to protect urban streams in the valley. The revised MOU allows for public delegations to make presentations at quarterly meetings (MOU 1997). But the pilot initiative still only involves the public as an information resource unless a development proposal requires a public hearing under the Municipal Act. To move forward in this vein, recommendations include: • The pilot initiative should incorporate use of an environmental advisory council of stakeholders on a trial basis (Dovetail 1996). For example, an advisory council could meet on a quarterly or as-needed basis; include an RDCS representative that could report back to the planning department, regional board, and at MOU meetings; and could provide review comments on specific development proposals (narrow focus) or other issues (broad focus). An environmental advisory council could provide more proactive public involvement (i.e., prior to public hearings) on more site specific issues as the OCP and Comox Valley pilot initiative were implemented. This recommendation may be outside the scope of the Comox Valley pilot initiative, but is being pursued in other local areas (e.g., Cowichan Valley, City of Surrey). The Comox Valley Watershed Assembly or the Comox Valley Round Table could fill this role, although the council would need to represent multiple perspectives. Upon completion of an internal evaluation of the pilot initiative, DFO recommended it be merged with efforts of the Watershed Assembly to benefit from the strengths each approach brings to habitat protection (Furlong 1997). An advisory council would not affect administrative procedures because it would act separately and provide feedback to RDCS (e.g., like a referral agency). It would not be responsible for actual decision making but 214 would influence it. If implemented, this recommendation would move public involvement in the Comox Valley from a role of providing information into a role of proactive consultation. 8.4.7 Revise Land Use Plans and Establish Development Permit Areas The Comox Valley OCP has not been revised and the 1980 and 1983 OCPs and 1986 zoning bylaws are still being used (note: within the case study boundaries, the exception is a small area north of the Oyster River where a revised OCP was adopted in 1997). The draft OCP developed in 1996 addressed urban stream protection through the establishment of DPAs, stormwater management, protection of greenways, protection of watersheds and groundwater resources, and other means. These are all appropriate objectives for Stream Stewardship (DFO et al. 1994). This OCP is currently being revised. Although the pilot initiative has improved existing processes, it would be even stronger with the establishment of DPAs and a locally enforceable framework. DPAs also need to be adopted to ensure the strong relationships that have developed between DFO and RDCS are not damaged; DFO strongly feels that DPAs are critical to the initiative. Ideally, efforts would be made to ensure DPAs were established in ALR land; however, it is unlikely that BC MAF will change their position. There are other ongoing initiatives to address stream protection on agricultural land. Once the OCP is adopted and DPAs are established, zoning bylaws that incorporate stream protection measures need to be developed as soon as possible. OCPs provide a strategic direction that is only operationalized through bylaws (Webb 1996), and bylaws help clarify procedures, give RDCS more authority, and make existing guidelines binding (DFO et al. 1994, Dovetail 1996). Recommendations include: • RDCS and its regional board should ensure the Comox Valley OCP is adopted as soon as possible, and continues to reflect proactive urban stream protection. 215 8.4.8 Implement Monitoring Monitoring is often lacking in many government programs, including the referral process (Arduino 1994, Independent Panel 1998). There needs to be some compliance monitoring done for the Comox Valley pilot initiative as the partners do not know whether recommended stream protection measures are being implemented by landowners. Recommendations include: • Senior agencies should complete a compliance report for the initiative. BCE began an audit of landowner compliance but did not complete this task because of logistical problems and lack of time. If a simple system could be developed for compliance monitoring, RDCS could also assume this role, although their workloads are already overloaded. A survey could be mailed to all landowners in RDCS's database with a series of questions designed to determine whether they implemented stream protection measures. Alternatively, a subset of landowners could be telephoned or visited (note: this was what BCE tried to do). Since the pilot initiative assumes that if recommended protection measures are implemented then incremental impacts to streams will be minimized, compliance monitoring is more immediately required than effectiveness monitoring. Effectiveness monitoring relates to whether urban stream protection is actually protecting and/or improving stream health. This is clearly a role for senior agencies that have the technical capability to develop stream health criteria, implement monitoring programs, and analyze data. In some cases, there may be a role for local environmental NGOs in monitoring (deShield and Romaine 1997). This type of information will not specifically determine the outcome of the Comox Valley pilot initiative since the incremental changes associated with actions on individual properties will not be measurable at this scale. Stream health reflects all 216 activities in a watershed. Effectiveness monitoring would provide more long-term information on trends in stream health. 8.4.9 Expand Scope of the Pilot Initiative The Comox Valley pilot initiative is limited in its ability to provide complete protection for urban streams for two main reasons: (1) it does not include water and waste management issues, and (2) it does not take a watershed perspective. To strengthen this initiative for urban stream protection, these limitations would need to be addressed and the scope would need to be expanded. But is this worthwhile or even possible? There is no simple answer. The exclusion of BCE waste and water management caused problems during initial implementation, and continues to cause a certain degree of administrative redundancy and fragmented decision making. From BCE's perspective, the initiative would be improved if its scope was expanded to include these responsibilities; however, they have not attempted this in other jurisdictions and the Water Act may not allow designation of another approval authority. DFO recognized the potential advantages of expanding the scope as well, but are less convinced that RDCS should have responsibilities in areas that are unrelated to urban development (e.g., instream works such as ditch cleaning). From an administrative perspective, processes would be more streamlined and integrated if RDCS had more responsibility for waste and water management referrals. Some potential options may allow RDCS to incorporate waste and water issues into the pilot initiative. RDCS will be developing an LWMP to provide a framework for domestic waste management issues in the valley. Under this framework, RDCS could assume more local responsibility for waste management issues. Floodplain setback issues are directly relevant to streamside development and could be incorporated into new review processes with guidance 217 from BCE. Approval of instream works could also be incorporated into new processes, especially since there are regulations and guidelines in place that RDCS could follow for common instream activities. Water withdrawal issues have similar guidelines available that would support local decision making. Water allocation plans have been prepared by BCE for the valley (Braybrook et al. 1995, Riddell and Bryden 1996) and would provide guidance to RDCS in screening and managing water licensing. Just as they have done for habitat, RDCS could at least screen inquiries and applications to decrease senior agency workload. This would support a single-window approach and provide a forum for better integration of stream-related issues. These waste and water issues affect urban stream protection. All waste management permits discharge to either a stream or the marine environment, all water licenses withdraw water from streams or lakes, all instream notifications or applications involve working within streams, and all floodplain setback variances are for development alongside streams. Including these responsibilities in the Comox Valley pilot initiative would certainly strengthen urban stream protection. However, it would not necessarily ensure a watershed perspective. For example, RDCS could assume more responsibility for water licenses but may still lack a current development plan and regulations to control the amount of development and impervious surfaces in its watersheds; thus, water quantity would still not be managed from a watershed perspective. RDCS could assume more responsibility for BCE's waste management permits, but may still lack a management plan to control the input of stormwater into streams; thus, water quality would still not be managed from a watershed perspective. And responsibilities outside BCE's mandate also impact urban streams; for example, assuming more responsibility for BCE waste management issues would not address BC Ministry of Health's responsibility for septic systems. Through the Farm Practices Protection Act, BC MAF is responsible for many activities on ALR land that affect water quantity and quality. In some cases, there may be 218 upstream activities on Crown land that affect stream health yet are outside local government's jurisdiction (e.g., construction of the new Inland Island Highway by BC MOTH). These are problems that extend beyond the Comox Valley pilot initiative. There is no clear legislative or administrative framework for watershed protection either regionally, provincially, or federally (Rueggeberg and Dorcey 1991; Sustainable Fisheries Foundation 1996). Each level of government is responsible for a different aspect of the problem, and this remains a huge barrier to urban stream protection. Without an integrated watershed framework, nobody is able to consider the cumulative effects of the multiple activities in a watershed on stream health. Multiple studies recommend creating watershed authorities or restructuring local government boundaries along watersheds; in reality, this kind of government restructuring is fraught with impracticalities and is unlikely to occur in the near future; more practical solutions are needed. As stated in the introduction to this thesis (Chapter 1), urban development and streamside impacts are only one component of urban stream protection. Streamside areas can be protected independently, as in the existing Comox Valley pilot initiative, as long as this fits within a comprehensive watershed framework. Although formalizing a watershed-based management structure is unlikely, a number of small steps by RDCS and senior agencies related to this initiative could help improve urban stream protection in this regard: • The scope of the Comox Valley pilot initiative can be expanded to improve urban stream protection through linkages with local environmental NGOs (Section 8.3.5). For example, a watershed management plan is being prepared by a community group in the Millard-Piercy watershed, a subdrainage in the valley. This plan will provide recommendations for RDCS and other agencies to follow. • The scope of the initiative can be expanded if the Habitat Atlas is used by Project Watershed for public education purposes. 219 • The anticipated LWMP can consider NPS issues and stormwater management with respect to impacts on urban streams, and the results of this management plan could link to the pilot initiative; this has been discussed by the partners. This kind of link was created between the Comox Valley pilot initiative and the Greenways Plan. • Zoning bylaws developed under the new OCP should ensure development levels and patterns that protect streams and aquatic resources, not just within streamside areas but throughout watersheds. • To make the linkages needed to improve urban stream protection and support a single-window approach, an environmental coordinator is recommended. This position could also improve linkages between RDCS departments In reality, it is unlikely that RDCS will be able to assume more responsibility from BCE without additional staff and funding. Their workload is already very high. Waste and water management issues are also very technical in nature and RDCS would need improved capacity in order to take an independent role. And it is not clear whether authority over water use can even be delegated by the province. Ideally, if RDCS could become more of a single-window for urban stream protection issues, senior agency workload would be reduced. Efforts within BCE and DFO could then switch to providing the right information, guidelines, and monitoring. 220 9. Summary: Broad Lessons in Urban Stream Management Within the urban environment, stream protection needs to be better integrated into urban development to facilitate more proactive protection of aquatic resources and avoid damage to streams before it occurs. At the same time, the need for a comprehensive watershed management framework is recognized; one that integrates the urban environment with other activities in a biophysical unit. This thesis examined the governance structure for urban stream management, and the key referral, planning, and local processes that have evolved in an effort to address its limitations. From this review, new directions were suggested to improve locally-based processes and facilitate better stream protection during urban development. A case study urban stream management program was evaluated as a mechanism for improving processes and achieving new directions. Other programs can learn from this evaluation by applying some of the specific information, conclusions, and recommendations more broadly to their own local setting. Urban development continues to increase, stream protection initiatives continue at the local level, and senior government continues to retreat due to a lack of resources. Thus, the final question to pose is what lessons can be learned from this analysis so that urban stream management can move forward and continue to evolve. These broader lessons confirm and support many of the new directions for management presented in Chapter 3, particularly the need for cooperation. However, they also reflect the more practical lessons learned from the case study. Local, or decentralized, processes improve opportunities for urban stream protection. There has been an evolution towards locally-based urban stream protection in the 1990s, 221 within both local government and local communities. In Chapter 2 it was suggested that more decentralized management continue, and the new directions for management in Chapter 3 supported this conclusion. Experiences with the Comox Valley pilot initiative show that, given the right setting, involving local government can expand stream habitat protection efforts. Local governments have authority over urban development and can use these tools to decrease impacts on streams within their jurisdiction and achieve more proactive protection. Not only can local governments control streamside development, but they also have authorities that fill many of the gaps in watershed-level protection; for example, OCPs can determine the amount and pattern of development in sub-basins, and zoning bylaws can limit the amount of impervious surfaces. Local government offers an appropriate scale for integrating and managing many of the urban development issues that commonly impact stream health, and can help reduce fragmentation in the governance structure. Because