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Convening for Action in British Columbia

What happens on the land matters. Apply ‘cathedral thinking’ – a far-reaching vision, a well thought-out blueprint, and a shared commitment to inter-generational implementation – to create a lasting water sustainability legacy. Convening for Action is a British Columbia process that is about moving from defining the problems (the ‘what’), to determining options (the ‘so what’), to taking action to achieve results (the ‘now what’), and after that, to replicating in other communities (the ‘then what’).

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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!,” wrote Ian McHarg.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015: To download a copy of “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”……


Five Regional Districts representing 75% of BC’s population are partners in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). A program deliverable is the Beyond the Guidebook 2015. It is a progress report on how local governments are ‘learning by doing’ to implement affordable and effective science-based practices. It is the third in a series that builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.

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Convening for Action in British Columbia


“Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” states Ray Fung.

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DID YOU KNOW THAT: waterbucket.ca is home for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia


“Knowing the Waterbucket user-base was wanting to find information easily, we redesigned the home page with not only a more contemporary look and feel but also to facilitate it being a portal to all of the different content-rich sections of the site,” stated Susan Friesen. “”Now site users can enjoy a faster, easier and mobile-friendly experience to conduct their research and become more informed with the valuable resources the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC provides.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Ted van der Gulik – “The fact that we now have to contend with both severe summer drought and sea rise made Ted’s talk all the more timely and relevant,” wrote Eric Bonham


Ted’s informative presentation on the anticipated impacts on food security from climate change was well received and was a natural follow up to Fin Donnelly’s talk on the challenges of maintaining a healthy Fraser River system. “The most productive agricultural land is situated in the lower Fraser Valley. This is one of the most productive agricultural regions in all of Canada. Half the total provincial farm gate receipts come from the Fraser Valley.” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Fin Donnelly – “he walks the talk, effectively communicating on an intergenerational level through community engagement,” wrote Eric Bonham


Fin Donnelly’s commitment and passion in both identifying and addressing the complex range of issues that challenge the health of the Fraser River gave invaluable insight and understanding of the need for an holistic approach and engagement by a range of participants. Also, his definition of “Rivershed” is a more inclusive term than Watershed, providing a sense of place, hence placing responsibility and commitment at the local level, a role that community stewards and local governments can effectively embrace.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Bob McDonald – “he has a natural ability to relay complex scientific information in an easy to understand and fun way,” wrote Eric Bonham


Bob McDonald’s observation that climate change is a reality and needs an immediate and collective response given water is the issue of the 21st century, is timely, and a message that cannot be repeated enough. That said, and as noted in the collective article in the Vancouver Sun, Bob and the Partnership for Water Sustainability share a positive vision of the future, seeking solutions through collaborative partnerships and a realignment of the water story.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: A testimonial to Michael Blackstock – “The interweaving of First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science is long overdue,” wrote Eric Bonham


The Partnership looks forward to an on-going connection with Michael Blackstock as he advances the three bold action items of Blue Ecology Education, Blue Ecology Architecture and a Blue Ecology City project. As Michael noted, the education initiative is especially significant, particularly at the elementary school level, as this will serve the young student well in their later years, namely understanding the central role of water and respecting it not simply as a commodity, but rather the life force it truly is.

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Perceptions of Worth, Perceptions of Value: “Testing EAP through two demonstration applications resulted in this defining conclusion – EAP is a process, not a protocol,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process Initiative, when he reported out at the Blue Ecology Workshop (Nov 2017)


“Initially, we saw EAP as a tool (i.e. ‘the protocol’) that would help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure. However, our thinking has evolved over the past year: EAP is a process, not a protocol. Thus, we are rebranding EAP as the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Pringle. “The term ‘Process’ more accurately describes the challenge of working with multiple stakeholders in order to accurately describe the ecological services made possible by the watershed hydrology.”

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Reflections on Inter-Generational Learning: “Today, how does any young professional truly learn his or her trade when so much of daily life revolves around the use of ‘apps’ for instant answers or solutions?” pondered Wally Wells when reflecting on what it means to be a professional engineer


“The reality today is a very different work environment then what we ‘old guys’ grew up in,” stated Wally Wells. “That leads to a required dialogue of what communicating really means and how the message is received and interpreted by different generations. Maybe, just maybe, we take too much for granted based on what we individually know in trying to communicate asset management. We need to think very hard about the way we carry the message – with, I would suggest, more thought to the perception of the listener.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP (November 28, 2017): Download the PowerPoint storylines for all four modules


Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy developed by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar. Blue Ecology looks at the water cycle differently to interweave First Nations and Western thought. Michael Blackstock has a vision: British Columbia water managers would embrace the Blue Ecology water cycle; our communities would become more water-resilient; and we would successfully adapt to a changing climate.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: “The ‘new normal’ is a recurring pattern of floods, droughts and especially wildfires. Impacts of wildfires on watershed hydrology in the Fraser Basin will be far-reaching,” wrote Kim Stephens in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun


“For years to come, Fraser River water levels (high and low) and quality will be affected,” stated Kim Stephens. “At the mouth of the Fraser, the consequences of summer droughts and rising sea levels combine to impact river water quality while at the same time increasing the need for irrigation water. The Fraser River would be able to supply much of the water required for expansion of the total irrigated area. But delivering the water would require a huge investment in infrastructure.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: “Water is THE issue of the 21st century, both around the world and even here in Canada where we have more water than anyone,” wrote Bob McDonald, national science commentator for CBC Television, in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun


“No longer is climate change a future scenario. It has happened more quickly than predicted. The real story is the accelerating rate of change, especially since extreme events create their own weather,” stated Bob McDonald. “As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely. Actually adapting requires transformational changes in how we apply hydrologic understanding.”

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