York Region’s Water and Wastewater Guidelines and Standards: Consensus Building – the Key to Success!

Prior to August 2006, the Regional Municipality of York’s Water and Wastewater Branch was operating with an existing set of Design Guidelines and Standards which were in need of updating. These guidelines and standards were also not being consistently applied to all of the Region’s water and wastewater infrastructure projects. The Region recognized the need to improve the Design Guidelines and Standards, and set about to do so through a formal project. An initial chartering session was held with all key stakeholders, and the project mission statement was developed ‘to provide “living” documents to guide and direct the development of water and wastewater infrastructure’. The goals of the project were, as follows: to provide an opportunity to document the Region’s current practices; to obtain consensus from all departments engaged in water and wastewater projects; and, ultimately, to provide a tool to external service providers to improve consistency and quality of all design deliverables prepared for the Region.

The Region’s Water and Wastewater Branch, Infrastructure Assets business unit was tasked with the project management for the development and maintenance of the new Design Guidelines and Standards documentation. The project team and stakeholders included more than 45 of York Region’s staff from 15 different business units, branches, and departments, all having a role in water and wastewater infrastructure projects. External expertise, project management, and project engineering was provided by the Consultant Team of CH2M HILL, Eramosa, and Delcan to assist in the development of these documents.

In just over 12 months, the Region was able to successfully complete nearly 500 General Guidelines, Design Guidelines and Standards, Technical Specifications, and Standard Drawings. This collaborative effort of nearly 90 people from both York Region and the Consultant Team logged over 14,000 hours in a twelve-month period and partook in 25 workshops to produce the final deliverables. As a final step to better communicate with all internal and external users of
the Design Guidelines and Standards documentation, the Region arranged for six information sessions. These sessions provided York Region staff, local area municipalities, and other GTA municipalities, consultants, equipment suppliers and manufacturers, and contractors, with information on the new Guidelines and Standards Documentation. In addition, the Region unveiled the York Region Standards Portal, which now contains all of these documents.

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