Early Days - Silos Will Need to Go
In the fall of 2004, the Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) held its annual conference in Okotoks entitled Smart Development: Protecting our Lakes and Watersheds Through Low Impact Development. ALMS invited Kim Stephens from B.C. and Tom Holz from Washington to talk about their experiences with sustainable drainage practices. A pre-meeting was convened at Alberta Environment's offices in order to hear what had been learned so far in B.C. Following the conference, a dedicated group of professionals continued to meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual interest. It became apparent that a lot of effort would be necessary to break down silos, but that it would be imperative to do so, because better water management would not occur otherwise. The stage was set.
Innovations in Urban Development, October 2006, Cochrane
As reported by the lead organizer, the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee:
"More than 160 engineers, developers, politicians, municipalities, biologists, researchers and stewardship groups gathered at the spectacular Cochrane RancheHouse to learn more about LID methods and real-life applications of this ecosystem-based approach to land development, which helps to ensure stormwater runoff and the negative impacts on the landscape and watersheds are controlled through better community planning and site designs.
In the end, attendees’ responses indicated that the conference had been exceedingly worthwhile.
The conference offered interactive workshops and presentations, covering a wide range of topics targeted towards LID application that could be applied not only within the Town of Cochrane, but for all of Western Canada. “The intent of the conference was to provide opportunities for planners, developers, town councils, policy makers and other attendees to gain a better understanding of LID concepts and successful real-life initiatives.
The timing of the conference was set to help address the rapid urban growth in the Calgary region. The Bow River is under increasing water quality and quantity pressures from development throughout the basin. LID has emerged as a strategy that can be shared among all municipalities to reduce their development impacts. Cochrane, in particular, has an opportunity to benefit from the LID conference information and access to experts in determining how it wants to plan and design several new developments on recently annexed land. LID information will also assist the Town as it undertakes a review of its Municipal Development Plan, which will set the future direction of how Cochrane will address current and future development."
First Edmonton Conference, November 2007
The unofficial 'Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership' (ALIDP) was meeting on a monthly basis and developed a program for a conference in Edmonton. It was at this event that the ALIDP elected a seven-person board of directors and formed a Society.
Society Officially Created and Coordinator Hired
In August of 2008, the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Society was registered under the Alberta Societies Act. The ALIDP's first coordinator, Kim Kiel, was hired part-time. Kim had little time to get up-to-speed before another conference in Cochrane was held in the fall of 2008.
2009 - Edmonton LID - Yes We Can!
In the summer of 2009, Leta van Duin began as Coordinator. The board gradually started to move from being a working board to becoming a policy-governing board. A one-day conference was held in Edmonton in the fall of 2009, again strongly attended by more than 90 professionals.
2010 - An Enduring Partnership Begins with the City of Calgary for Training in All Facets of Stormwater Management
A partnership between the ALIDP and the City of Calgary Water Quality Services began in 2009. The 10th Annual Erosion and Sediment Control Courses were celebrated with the addition of new training in LID, thereby broadening the understanding of the need to ensure water quality not just during construction, but to completion...and beyond. We were privileged to be joined by Gary Minton from Seattle. He delivered two days of training in Stormwater Quality from his definitive textbook by the same name. (We understand that this was amoung the last, if not THE last time Gary offered this training in a live format before heading in to semi-retirement.)
Since 2010, the ALIDP has partnered with the City each year in early spring to deliver an array of training offerings. At the time of writing in January 2014, the ALIDP has delivered 88 unique hours of training in the subject area of LID to more than 700 participants through this annual event. Since 2013 the ALIDP has taken leadership on developing and delivering this event, freeing up City of Calgary staff to concentrate on program development.
More Partnerships for Events since 2009
In addition to the training in Calgary, the ALIDP has partnered widely to deliver events across the province. From Coaldale near Lethbridge in the south, to Olds College in the middle, and Grande Prairie in the north, the ALIDP has been to communities large and small. Conferences with partners like the Canadian Water Resources Association Alberta Branch and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation allowed us to expand our audience. The City of Edmonton, a long-time ALIDP partner, called on us to assist it with the rollout of its LID BMPs Design Guide. Building common understanding, networking, and increasing the skills and confidence of our local professional community are at the heart of these events, so this type of activity will no doubt continue in the future. 2014 is already shaping up for more event collaborations, including policy exploration with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Executive Director Position Created in 2011 and Board of Directors Expanded in 2012
In the summer of 2011, Leta van Duin was named Executive Director. She continues to serve in this position, seeking ways to communicate effectively between disciplines and looking for the next collaborative opportunity to build the stormwater community in Alberta. The board of directors was expanded in 2012, and now sits at nine elected members, which is working well for current needs.
Vegetative Practices - Research
The ALIDP initially had five working groups. These fairly rapidly merged into a group of engineers and landscape architects who held lively discussions resulting in the development of a Vegetative Practices course for the 2011 training week with the City of Calgary. Following this large undertaking, the group expanded in number but focused in on one topic on everyone's wish list: designing a bioretention research installation. More than three hundred volunteer hours went in to dialogue to determine the needs and parameters for this research. Detailed design is on hold pending volunteer availability and funding.
Bow Phosphorus Management Plan Urban Non-point-source Task Team
In 2012 the Bow Basin Phosphorus Management Plan appointed Leta van Duin Chair of its Urban Non-point-source Task Team. ALIDP partners have been the primary contributors to this task team and have logged more than four hundred person-hours to date.
Now in our Sixth Year as a Society - Managing Growth
The ALIDP has established itself as the premiere stormwater training agency in Alberta and continues to refine and deepen its training content. Web-based content delivery is visible on the horizon, which we know will help our partners outside of the Calgary-Edmonton corridor to more easily link in. A working website, a searchable knowledgebase, and a budding online community will be tangible results of our startup phase, as we grapple with managing our next phase of growth, which is now upon us. We couldn't wish for a better challenge.