Sustainable Built Environments and 1 more...less...

Restoration Economy

Number of communities with Transformative Green Infrastructure programs

0 2017

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Story Behind the Curve

What are the stories that help us understand why this particular measure is currently so low? OLW Network members who work on transformative green infrastructure told their own stories about why they believe this measure is so low. What follows are the themes that were pulled from their stories.

  • Public perception (“green infrastructure” is not sexy/compelling)
  • Lack of local policy tools that enable GI uptake (e.g. OCPs, incentives, etc.)
  • Knowledge management and mobilization (the knowledge is there - we do not need to create more reasons for GI - but it's not being translated or reaching right people)
  • Lack of enforcement, implementation and maintenance of on-the-ground GI projects
  • Poor construction of pilot projects undermine confidence to mitigate stormwater
  • Idea that traditional engineering knowledge is better/more advanced than other knowledge systems
  • Natural disasters providing mobilization and action (reactive vs. proactive responses) - potential for overselling what green infrastructure can accomplish
  • Bureaucratic siloing—GI requires working across disciplines (ecology, parks, engineering, planning, public health, etc.)

Who are the partners that can support us in doing better against this impact measure? The following are many of the partners who have a role to play:

Engineering associations, Governments, Conservation authorities, NGOs, Universities, Landowners, Renters, Farmers, Business owners and BIAs, People impacted by a ‘focusing events’- victims, Insurance companies, Celebrities, Tourism industry, Social media, Traditional media & journalists, Engineering departments, Libraries, Schools, Nature clubs and enthusiasts, Hunters & fishers, ATV clubs, Banks and funding partners, Cottage associations, Real estate associations, Developers, Landscapers and landscape architects, Health authorities, Emergency management organizations, Woodlot owners, Natural resource groups, Public health officials & staff.

Ranking the Actions

Based on the stories behind the baseline and the partners, a  number of potential actions were brainstormed and then ranked based on two criteria (each action was given a score between 1 to 5, with 5 being better):

  1. Leverage (L): This is the most important criterion. How much difference will the action make on our impact measure? Will this actually help turn the curve? E.g. handing out pamphlets at a community event isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it's probably low leverage.
  2. Reach (R): That is, “is it within our reach”? Is it feasible and affordable? Can it actually be done and when? No-cost / low-cost actions rank highly here. Action that require new significant resources rank lower. Is there a clear lead person (higher), or does nobody want to take it on (lower)?

The actions and how they were ranked are as follows:




Marketing Campaign for GI: Branding GI- selling it as awesome with recreation/leisure benefits versus solutions to technical problems. Include communications of how GI works that people in their own communities can use to give to decision makers.



Promoting Existing Resources: determine how to promote existing resource versus creating more to add to the already large pile



Engineer engagement and education: working with professional bodies and required courses (e.g. GI course a necessity for civil engineers within their curriculum - work with universities to make this mandatory)



What are the levers we can use? Pull together progressive urban planners and professional developers to get them to identify what the subtle levers are we can use to incentivize GI



Create a network/coalition/collective: something cities can join to promote their green infrastructure progress.



Conference to attract engineers on the benefits, and process of creating successful GI



Bringing decision makers onto field trips with planners, engineers and municipal staff to successful GI case studies.



Pursue more land donations by landowners with covenants applied where possible.



Create a Job description of person who can push GI initiatives through the municipal processes- and encourage municipalities to hire this position.




Two OLW Network members: the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and Green Communities Canada has set up a Community of Practice to support local non-profit groups to advance uptake of green infrastructure. The action planning outlined here is the work of the Community of Practice. 

Two main actions are now being taken on by the Community of Practice, resulting from this work:

1- Marketing campaign for green infrastructure, which includes:

  • Branding GI- selling it as awesome. E.g. recreation/leisure benefits versus solutions to technical problems; Launching a coordinated campaign that different groups working on GI can plug into; Creating a brand for GI- e.g. ‘rain as a resource’. Polling to understand what statements resonate with the public; Demonstrating preferences via research (e.g. communities that have GI prefer these to ones that do not) - economic choice preferences; Demonstrating the social norms (people like GI); Social justice lens- marginalized communities need resources to support green communities; Taking a health angle- pitching the health benefits (key determinants of health); Documenting success stories in short videos to promote GI; Communicating how GI works giving compelling brief or presentation of case studies. Creating a brief that people in their own communities can use to give to their most highly leveraged people (decision makers, etc); Curated library of case studies that show successes;

2- Promoting Existing Resources: determine how to promote existing resource versus creating more to add to the already large pile.

Want to get involved? The Community of Practice is open to new members. Contact us to find out how you can join and start driving local action for green infrastructure!

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy