(Text taken from Executive Summary of Report – Read Full Report)
The Stewardship Centre for B.C. has developed 19 guides known as the Stewardship Series. Eight of these guides were evaluated in a survey of planners throughout B.C. to find out the level of awareness and use of the guides. The Centre is seeking information to determine future directions for already-published and up-coming guides.
The survey of 55 planners, environmental managers, and Corporate Administrative Officers from 52 jurisdictions throughout B.C. reveals that most are aware of the guides, but that the use of the guides varies according to when they were published. Predictably, the most-used of the guides is the Green Bylaws Toolkit published in 2008. It had a substantial ‘roll-out’ and promotion with workshops and notices going out to targeted planners across the province. As for five of the earliest guides, published in 1996 and earlier, the majority of planners (particularly those that have been in the field for 10 to 15 years), reported using them when they were learning about stewardship issues and incorporating the ideas and concepts into documents during that time. They find that they are not using the older guides now either because they aren’t relevant to the type of work they’re involved in, or that they are too general. The other two guides, published in 2003, were little known and used, perhaps because they were not given a large promotion at the time of publication, and posted on the web-site, but not printed out and distributed.
Many planners reported finding the older guides, and now the Green Bylaws Toolkit, useful for creating policies or providing background research for new or updated bylaws. While a few planners still refer to the oldest guide, the Land Development Guidelines (1992) for technical direction, the planners who are currently using the older guides find them valuable educational tools.
Since planners had not looked at the older guides for some time and had only just started using the Green Bylaws Toolkit, their suggestions for improvement were quite general and included separating the educational from the technical guides. Since time is of the essence for planners, the technical guides need to be clearly organized and laid out, and contain information that is accurate and preferably tested already in a legal context in another municipality. The educational guides need to have excellent visual descriptions, be well-organized and the information easy to access.
The survey also revealed that planners often turn to each other across the province for information about policies or bylaws when they are preparing their own documents.
Predictably, many more now use the internet to access information, but many still prefer hard-copies for detailed study and frequent reference.
A key recommendation is to contact those planners who are most familiar with the guides to form a focus group and go through the guides in more detail to obtain detailed information on the use of the guides and needs in terms of future guides for planners.