Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Natural Partnership

The theme for Latornell this year is one that gives me great hope. The idea of collaborating with nature is a concept that I have believed in and shared for many years. Lately, along with the other members of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, I have been sharing the message that protecting, restoring and sustainably managing biodiversity is our best defence in a world with a rapidly changing climate. I think it’s one of the most important principles to guide the work we each do to support conservation in Ontario.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It includes the plant and animal species, lands, lakes, rivers, forests and other ecosystems that provide us with a healthy environment, clean air, productive soils, nutritious foods, and safe, clean water. This biodiversity also supports our forestry, farming, fishing, recreation and tourism industries.

All living things are connected and rely on each other to survive. However, it used to be that as a society, we behaved as though nature was an obstacle to progress. And as you know, that mindset does still exist. But there is a very positive shift happening now, where we are realizing that biodiversity is the mightiest tool in our toolbox as we build a future where sustainable use and restoration are the norm rather than the exception.

Collaborating with nature makes sense. We need to work with and make use of the natural processes and systems if we want to maintain biodiversity and the ecosystem services we rely on for our own health and a prosperous economy. This can include investing in natural green infrastructure to support climate change mitigation, or, building resilience in natural systems – and in turn our homes and communities – to protect us from extreme weather such as floods.

All green infrastructure is good. And incorporating any green infrastructure is better than not. But we will be most successful when we leave nature to do what it does best – this is natural infrastructure. Evidence shows us that healthy forests, wetlands, watersheds and floodplains provide many of the benefits of human-made green infrastructure with significantly lower costs and maintenance expenses. Conserving our existing natural resources to capitalize on the ecosystem services they provide is truly collaborating with nature.

We have to continue our efforts to conserve biodiversity for its own sake, but also for our sake. Promoting and adopting natural green infrastructure - making it the norm – will give us multiple benefits: reduced impact of floods and droughts, better air quality, clean water, beautiful and connected natural spaces in our communities, healthy local food, and many more.

At Latornell this year, there are a number of wonderful sessions that can help us promote and argue for natural green infrastructure. We will be learning about greener roads and highways, integrating nature into urban design, storm water management, land securement, the importance of communicating science, and much more. And I hope you will join me on the morning of Day 2 for the Ontario Biodiversity Council panel on the role of biodiversity and natural infrastructure in attenuating flood risk. In the afternoon the Ontario Biodiversity Council is also pleased to offer a session that focuses on progress and the path to success for meeting two targets from Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy: completing and implementing natural heritage systems plans and conserving 17 percent of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as protected areas.

It’s sometime easy to become discouraged when you work in conservation. The stakes are high and it can feel like we are fighting a losing battle. But there’s much strength to be gained in numbers, and the Latornell Symposium offers a great opportunity to share ideas and enthusiasm with a like-minded crowd. I look forward to meeting many of you as we continue the important work of collaborating with nature to protect what sustains us.

Blog Post from Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Building Your LID Practice

While LID is becoming more common in Ontario, there is still a lack of training and experience amongst contractors, which can lead to poor construction techniques. You may have a great LID design, but without proper construction practices, your LID feature will not function as intended. Construction of an LID feature is different than a typical stormwater practice. It requires different materials, changes to typical construction sequencing, protection of infiltration areas, and vegetation within the practice serves both a functional and aesthetic role. Contractors must have a thorough understanding of these differences to ensure successful LID projects.

A typical LID construction process follows 6 major steps:
  1. Mass Grading
  2. Excavation
  3. Installation of underground infrastructure
  4. Backfilling with granular material
  5. Biomedia installation
  6. Planting 
This video will demonstrate all 6 steps in action, through in the construction of a bioretention feature.

To learn more about LID construction techniques, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module and check out Credit Valley Conservation’s Construction Guide and Construction Case Study

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Monday, 7 November 2016

Erosion and Sediment Control

Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) is a critical component of an LID construction project. During construction, natural drainage pathways are altered, vegetation and stable topsoil aggregates are stripped away as part of the grading process. If left uncontrolled, erosion of exposed soils can cause local air quality problems, degradation of aquatic habitats, and damage to downstream recreational areas and infrastructure. ESC is often not properly designed, installed or maintained leaving the integrity of the site and downstream drainage areas at risk. While ESC is important to protect against many external site factors, it is also critical to protect against internal factors, particularly for a LID construction site. Improper ESC could lead to contamination of bioretention soils, clogged permeable pavers or sediment ridden clear stone beds and underdrains. An ESC plan will first identify all erosion and sediment sources, then identify the ESC protection practices you need to put in place, such as construction phasing, minimization of land disturbances, vegetative buffers, temporary seeding, sod stabilization, horizontal slope grading, preservation of trees and other natural vegetation, and temporary and permanent vegetation establishment. For these reasons, ESC is one of the aspects of an LID project that should receive careful attention.

To find out more about ESC, join CVC and TRCA on November 14th at the Pre-Latornell conference training Making It Work: Low Impact Development SWM Construction, Inspection, Maintenance, and Monitoring Module. Otherwise, check out CVC’s LID Construction Guide for helpful tips that can be found here:

and a video link illustrating the ESC process:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Friday, 4 November 2016

Tender and Contract

Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for Low Impact Development

When constructing a low impact development (LID) feature, your tender and contract can be a tool to solve problems before they ever come to pass. It helps ensure that a qualified contractor constructs your LID project properly, and allows you to set out clear expectations for the contractor, consultant and inspector. It is important to be very detailed in your tender and contract, as there are critical components that may differ from traditional construction. Special provisions within the contract can provide detail to erosion and sediment control, material specifications and testing, inspection points, and specific maintenance protocols into warranty period. By having that critical information in the contract it can help to prevent costly repairs and maintenance as the project goes from construction to assumption.

Communication is also an important tool for a successful LID project. Many contractors in Ontario are new to LID and having a pre-construction meeting is a great way to help educate your contractors on what is different about LID construction. Pre-construction meetings should include discussions about protecting infiltration areas, meeting material specifications, material storage areas, construction sequencing, and communication chains. To properly prepare yourself for LID construction, maintenance or monitoring check out the Pre-Latornell LID training workshop on November 14th being offered by CVC and TRCA.

Check out Credit Valley Conservations video on Tender, Contract and Pre-Construction for more tips and tools.

More information about CVC’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Siting and Design Verification

LID practices use techniques and specifications that differ from traditional stormwater management construction practices. Failing to follow proper LID construction methods can result in barren bioretention landscapes, clogged infiltration practices, uneven permeable pavements and costly post-construction repairs. CVC offers training courses where experienced instructors take participants through each step of the LID construction process, highlighting potential errors and explaining proper techniques. In 2017,the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) will be releasing the LID Stormwater Management Manual, which will encouraging the use of green infrastructure. It will also identify minimum runoff volume control targets in addition to water quality control targets. Taking advantage of the LID Construction, Inspection, and Monitoring training offered on November 14th as a Pre-Latornell workshop can help professionals stay ahead of the changes.

In anticipation of the MOECC changes, CVC has created a series of videos to complement the LID construction, inspection, and monitoring training course. Siting and verification of LID practice design is the first part of this series. This video stresses the importance of verifying several design and preconstruction tasks. Identifying construction boundaries and verifying grades is a critical step in all construction projects. Verifying design assumptions is needed to be done on site and then determine if any changes to the design are necessary.

More information about CVC, TRCA, and LSRCA’s LID Training Program can be found here:

This blog entry was contributed by Jakub Wrobel and Julie McManus of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority