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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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REGISTER NOW for an inspirational workshop on “Blue Ecology – interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“For the fifth straight year, the Irrigation Industry Association of BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are partnering to co-host a workshop that will mainstream a ‘big idea’ and provide professional developmentabout water management in BC,” states Kim Schaefer. “This year the workshop moves back to the Lower Mainland after being held in the Okanagan (2016), Lower Mainland (2013, 2015) and on Vancouver Island (2014).”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: “Water is our lifeblood as Musqueam,” says Morgan Guerin – he will provide the First Nations welcome to address protocol and set the table for workshop guests at Richmond venue (Nov 28)


Morgan Guerin, secəlenəχʷ, is a Fisheries Officer and an elected Councillor for the Musqueam Indian Band. “The Musqueam equivalent of cathedral thinking is called ‘seven generations’. We look back seven generations. You have to look back far in order to be able to look far ahead,” stated Morgan Guerin. “Plant seeds in minds. Think about what you want in the future. Say something enough times and people will hear it.”

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OP-ED ARTICLE: More irrigation is key to food security in B.C. (published in the Vancouver Sun in November 2017)


“We also need to apply Watershed CPR to begin the process of moving the land and water back to health.” wrote Fin Donnelly. “A large-scale program to conserve, protect and restore the Fraser’s tributary riversheds would start with a change in attitude. Let’s work together to ensure the mighty Fraser River, one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers, stays mighty for generations to come.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 2 (Nov 28, 2017): “Climate change may drastically impact the availability of fresh water for agriculture on Canada’s most productive agriculture land, the lower Fraser Valley,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“The critical issue is the salt wedge and window of opportunity for pumping water from the Fraser River,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “An increase in sea levels combined with a drought flow on the Fraser River would allow salt water to move further up the river in the future. This would shut down water supply intakes for a longer period of time, and could make it challenging to extract good quality irrigation water for use in Richmond and Delta.”

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“Cathedral thinking is about keeping the living generation tethered to the future,” said Rick Antonson


Cathedral thinking aptly describes the philosophy that guides the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. “Cathedral Thinking is so simple for people to understand. You can actually explain it in about 45 seconds, and people nod, ‘Oh yeah. If I was designing a cathedral, it was going to take 50 years to build. I wouldn’t be around so I need to have a design that somebody else can finish, and that somebody else after them has to be able to finish it. I get it. Done’,” said Rick Antonson.

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WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: Shelly Creek is the City of Parksville’s last fish-bearing stream! – Restore Watershed Hydrology, Prevent Stream Erosion, Ensure Fish Survival (October 2017)


“Shelly Creek is a tributary of the Englishman River, a major watershed system on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Shelly Creek is important to salmonids, and this is why it is necessary to understand what is causing the Shelly Creek stream channel to fill with sediment, as well as what can be done to ensure fish survival over time,” stated Peter Law. “In 1999 the Englishman River was first declared to be one of the most endangered rivers in BC.”

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WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township – ‘Design with Nature’ to Create Liveable Neighbourhoods (October 2017)


“This Watershed Case Profile celebrates the ‘good work’ done by the Township of Langley. By showcasing and sharing the ‘story behind the story’ of green infrastructure innovation, our hope is that other communities will learn from Township experience,” wrote Kim Stephens. “Design with nature…a whole-system approach…learn by doing and adapt. These three phrases capture the essence of how the Township builds neighbourhoods.”

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INTER-REGIONAL COLLABORATION: Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia lauds the contributions of Debra Oakman as a champion for water and watershed sustainability on Vancouver Island


When she was the Chief Administrative Officer of the Comox Valley Regional District, Debra Oakman was instrumental in helping to lay the foundation for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education initiative – comprised of 5 regions within the Georgia Basin, exchanging ideas and information on water sustainability. This subsequently led to the recognition of the importance of sustainable water system delivery through asset management.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 1 (Nov 28, 2017): “The Fraser River’s diversity – including people and landscapes – inspires me. However, we need to apply ‘Watershed CPR’ to the Fraser to return it to health,” says Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“The Blue Ecology Workshop encourages you to look at water differently; to look at each other differently – in a new way.” states Fin Donnelly. “Seize the opportunity to share experiences, knowledge and learn from one another’s perspectives! In my judgment, the Blue Ecology Workshop has the potential to be a transformational event – especially if water professionals who participate see value in working with others.”

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