Operating Principle: Inclusivity
Incorporated as a not-for-profit society in November 2010, the stated purposes of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia are three-fold:
- To promote and advance protection and management of natural and engineered water resources.
- To provide educational, research, and technical services and tools for practitioners involved in water resources functions.
- To foster integrated protection and management strategies through practitioner expertise.
Pursuant to the bylaws of the society, the Board of Directors has established three categories of membership, encompassing voting and non-voting.
“After considerable research and deliberation, and keeping in mind the Board’s desire for inclusivity as an operating principle, the Directors concluded that it would be in the best long-term interests of the Partnership to make membership simple to administrate. So we decided to limit the choices to three categories,” states Peter Law, the Director responsible for conducting researching into how other societies and organizations have established membership criteria.
The Partnership’s three categories of membership, the associated annual fees, and voting privileges (or not) are listed as follows:
- Associate - free (non-voting)
- Professional – $100 per year (voting)
- Organization (corporate) – $250 year (voting)
“Any individual with an interest in green infrastructure and/or water sustainability can become a member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. All that individuals need do is go to the top-right corner of any page on the website and follow the instructions to Become a Member. We will add them to our e-blast distribution list and this will keep them informed of the Partnership’s activities and initiatives,” continues Peter Law.
“In the spirit of sharing and spreading the lessons learned by those who are leading change, members who are registered in the non-voting Associate category have unencumbered permission to make use of information resources and guidance documents published by the Partnership. Currently, over 1500 individuals receive the Partnership’s weekly e-blasts. All we ask in return is that the source of these resources be acknowledged by those who use them.”
“From the Board’s perspective, granting free membership in the Partnership will promote broader awareness of the Partnership’s vision and mission. We anticipate that this inclusive approach will also foster a sense of belonging on the part of those many British Columbians who benefit from the Partnership’s outreach and training activities.”
“Because membership for individuals is free, however, we emphasize that there is no voting privilege associated with this category. The right to vote is associated with paying members only. To provide long-term flexibility in this regard, the Board has established Professional and Organization categories.”
“Also, an Associate membership does NOT entitle those individuals to the (discounted) Professional registration fee for Partnership events. In that case, payment of the non-member registration fee would include a 1-year Professional membership.”
“Waterbucket.ca is one of two websites maintained by the Partnership. The other is waterbalance.ca which is the home for the Water Balance Model for Canada. This too is a not-for-profit initiative. While model development and enhancement is primarily funded by government grants, the ongoing maintenance of the portal is funded through annual subscription fees. This means that Water Balance Model Partners and subscribers who are in good standing have the right to vote at the annual general meeting.”
“In addition to Water Balance Model Partners and subscribers, the Organization category encompasses agencies that have provided financial support that has enabled the Partnership to deliver tools and programs under the umbrella of Convening for Action in British Columbia. An organization has only one vote.”
“The Professional category recognizes that there may be individuals who wish to become proactively involved in Partnership activities, yet do so independently of an organizational constraint.”
Filling the “Expertise Vacuum”
“In these changing and challenging times when every level of government is expected to do more with the same resources, the Partnership for Water Sustainability is benefitting from the hands-on involvement of a pool of experienced practitioners who volunteer and contribute their knowledge. By drawing on the wisdom of retired career civil servants, the Partnership is also helping to fill the expertise vacuum left by demographic change and loss of organizational capacity,” states Mike Tanner, Director and Waterbucket Chair.
“This approach to doing business differently is creating opportunities for experienced professionals to mentor the next generation of land use and water resource practitioners. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel when knowledge and learning can be shared.”
“The funnel graphic (above) is our way to illustrate the opportunity for those who are keen and leading change in BC to gravitate, over time, to a leadership position within the Partnership,” concludes Peter Law.
To Learn More:
The Partnership has prepared a short-form document that addresses these questions:
- Why was our Partnership formed?
- What is our vision?
- What is our mission?
- What are the specific challenges that the Partnership is addressing?
- Who will benefit?
- What methods will the Partnership use to alleviate/solve these challenges/issues?
- What is our track record of accomplishments?
- What are our qualifications to solve these challenges?
For a set of responses to these questions, click on About the Partnership for Water Sustainability_April 2012 to download a copy of the synopsis document.