Robert Baldwin

Robert Baldwin

Rob Baldwin is the General Manager, Planning and Development at the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and has been with them for 18 years. He is responsible for the delivery of a proactive program to ensure a sustainable Lake Simcoe watershed with a client focused approach. Rob has focused on applying innovative approaches related to watershed management in several areas across North America.

Offsetting Programs – Restoring the Lake Simcoe Watershed Through Growth and Building Better Communities!

Watersheds and urban communities across the world face two common challenges. The first is the ongoing challenge of urban growth and development. The second is existing urban areas are under significant stress from climate change, aging or non-existent infrastructure for stormwater management and an absolute lack of funding to implement restorative actions.

The restoration of Lake Simcoe has been underway for several decades and has traditionally focused on phosphorus reduction to improve the water quality conditions impacting significant coldwater fisheries. Future growth projections clearly indicated a significant increase in phosphorus as it is realized and with traditional government funding programs being minimized the challenge was to eliminate the risk from future growth while reducing the historical phosphorus load. From this challenge the Lake Simcoe Phosphorus Offset Program (LSPOP) was created in which new development must achieve a net zero phosphorus export. If this cannot be achieved than a financial offset of $35,000/kilogram at a 2.5:1 ratio per kilogram of uncontrolled phosphorus is applied.

The offset pushes development to increase innovation and performance for on-site stormwater management while providing the funds necessary to restore existing urban areas which results in a significant net reduction in phosphorus to Lake Simcoe. Two other offset programs have also been established to facilitate growth while minimizing impacts and provide funding for both ecological and water balance restoration.

This presentation will provide the framework on how these two common challenges are being addressed in the Lake Simcoe watershed by using Offsetting Programs to facilitate growth which in turn fund stormwater (phosphorus reduction), water balance and ecological restoration. In simple terms, new growth and development are providing the financial offset to restore the past.

From Adversaries to Partners! Building Resilient Communities with Public/Private Partnerships

Facing significant urban growth and development the Lake Simcoe watershed is no different than countless watersheds worldwide. The demands for housing, infrastructure and services is a common challenge but one that is typically adversarial between developers and government decision makers. Too many times this adversarial paradigm results in an end product that neither hoped to achieve, conflict is common, trust is non-existent and often the environmental outcomes are marginalized.

Ten years ago the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) was the proud winner of the Thiess International Riverprize. This honour was the catalyst for a renewed commitment to restore the health of Lake Simcoe. This commitment could not be achieved without a much needed culture change resulting in the development industry our leading partner and no longer an adversary.

A culture change of this magnitude requires champions. The LSRCA was fortunate to have a leading Canadian developer, with an array of challenging projects, was also looking for a new way to do business having grown weary of the traditional adversarial approach. Geranium Corporation based in southern Ontario, Canada knew there had to be a better way to build communities. Together Geranium and LSRCA developed a new standard on how working together; better and more resilient communities could be built, increased environmental outcomes, built trust and changed a long standing culture.

This presentation will provide perspectives from both public and private entities that will share the key approaches, mechanisms and innovative ideas on how they changed the culture and highlight what can be achieved.

Creating a public-private relationship, to achieve maximum benefits in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

Intense growth and development pressure is a common fact of life in many areas across the world. This pressure is often seen as a challenge where the traditional approval agency versus developer approach results most often in conflict. This current approach maintains the status quo and does little to assist in achieving climate change resiliency goals, sustainable water management and much more. Simply put, this adversarial approach results in minimal outcomes and increased community conflict.  The Lake Simcoe watershed, on the doorstep of Toronto, Canada, has been one of the most significant growth areas in Canada and will continue to do so for the next few decades. The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) is an environmental agency charged with protecting and restoring the health of Lake Simcoe and acts as an environmental extension of municipal government. Over the past five years the LSRCA has adopted an approach to change the development culture from one of “fighting for minimums” to one of “partnering for maximums”.  Culture change is typically difficult and certainly slow but is best accomplished with willing and innovative groups or partners. The LSRCA has been able to change the development culture with a willing developer with large scale developments in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Geranium Corporation is a significant developer within this region of Canada who also realized the traditional approach did not work. Together, the LSRCA and Geranium, changed the relationship to focus on mutual outcomes that surpass all traditional approaches. The presentation will outline the key mechanisms and approaches used to change the culture and achieve maximum social, community and environmental benefits that result by creating a public-private relationship.

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