qathet Regional District (qRD) has won a 2021 community excellence award at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) virtual convention.
The regional district won in the excellence in asset management category for its natural asset solution for stormwater runoff at the resource-recovery centre, which is in the process of construction. The cost of a man-made engineered solution would have been $850,000 to deal with stormwater runoff, but the natural asset solution devised by qRD cost an estimated $150,000, saving $700,000.
At the February 17 qRD finance committee meeting, Mike Wall, former manager of asset management and strategic initiatives, said in terms of the stormwater management at the site, working with the consultant, qRD staff had concerns when reviewing the proposed engineered stormwater design for the landfill closure due to high costs of man-made infrastructure and tree removal.
Wall said staff put together a team of local professionals to lead the redesign of stormwater management from the landfill closure mound, saving approximately $700,000 by incorporating the surrounding forest as a natural asset in providing stormwater management service.
“Although this natural asset solution saved an estimated 0.4 hectares of forest, approximately 0.1 hectares had to be removed,” stated Wall. “The merchantable logs were sent to a local mill to be milled into lumber for the resource-recovery centre facility buildings.”
qRD chair Patrick Brabazon said great credit for the award had to go to the senior staff, particularly Wall and manager of financial services Linda Greenan.
“This award really recognizes the superb work they have done in protecting the public assets of the regional district,” said Brabazon. “We have very competent staff who know what they are doing and were able to guide the board in the right direction.”
Brabazon said the regional board was receptive and did listen to good advice.
“This was totally new and something that previous boards had never considered,” said Brabazon. “They [staff] took it and ran with it.”
Brabazon said the project has been a success. He added that the resource-recovery centre is one of the best things the regional district has done in his time as a director.
“It’s great to see this project coming to fruition,” added Brabazon.
Wall calls solution collaborative
Wall, who has since left the employ of qRD, said he was very happy that the regional district had been nominated for and received the reward for the innovation that has gone on at the resource-recovery centre.
“It kind of speaks to what is happening in the qathet region,” said Wall. “Being nominated and awarded was part of the qRD board’s dedication to the asset management and strategic initiatives department. The qathet board’s strategic plan and overhead plans allow this kind of thinking and innovation from staff.”
Wall said this particular solution came about through a collaborative effort with some local forestry professionals and with other governmental staff. He said he and Caleb Allen from the regional district were actively involved in the project, as well as City of Powell River chief administrative officer Russell Brewer and director of planning services Jason Gow. He said a group put it all together to make sure all the bases were covered.
“We came to an agreement to investigate this and hired local professionals to help us bring it to fruition,” said Wall.
He said the storm runoff solution at the resource-recovery centre is an environmentally sound way to manage the runoff and is expected to have a lower maintenance cost in the long term.
“It’s because there is a natural system looking after the runoff,” said Wall.
To view videos on the resource-recovery project, go to qathet.ca/current_project/resource-recovery-centre.
According to a media release from UBCM, the community excellence awards recognize and celebrate UBCM member first nations, regional districts and municipalities that have implemented projects or programs that go above and beyond in meeting the purposes of local government in BC. The awards are intended to showcase outstanding initiatives and share them with other members to implement in their own communities.