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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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“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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CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township – ‘Design with Nature’ to Create Liveable Neighbourhoods” – Watershed Case Profile released by Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (October 2017)


The stewardship ethic for creating liveable neighbourhoods in Langley is shaped by ‘cathedral thinking’ and a shared commitment by elected representatives, staff and community to long-term implementation. “There are many staff members that have made this happen,” stated Mayor Jack Froese. “Council makes policy and we approve policies. And then it is our wonderful staff that carry out the policies.”

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CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: Moving ahead on a ‘green’ platform has gained positive momentum as Council has found it easy to support green infrastructure innovation that protects groundwater supply and fisheries habitat


“The Township is a community of 113,000 of which 75% of the land area is within the Agricultural Land Reserve,” stated Councillor Charlie Fox. “This presents a delicate balance between the preservation of agricultural land and the continued pressure for urban development. It is within this context that the staff and Council champion the theme of harmony and integration as we endeavour to focus on ‘green’ initiatives and programs.”

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CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “A presentation many years ago by Patrick Condon put me on the path to integration. Patrick’s storytelling made me realize that everything we do has an effect somewhere else,” says Ramin Seifi, the Township’s General Manager of Engineering & Community Development


“When the previous General Manager of Engineering retired in 2011, our Chief Administrative Officer listened when I presented the case for doing both jobs – Engineering and Community Development,” stated Ramin Seifi. “The Township needed more integration to respond to the demands on infrastructure and the risks to the environment resulting from rapid population growth. Achieving integration depended on the Township having a better structure.”

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CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “When we are in harmony with nature, things will go well,” stated Colin Wright, former General Manager of Engineering (2004-2011)


“As municipalities, we are the focal point. We have to show leadership on-the-ground if our society is to achieve sustainability. In Langley, we believe there is a sea-change about to happen. The community is ready for green infrastructure,” stated Colin Wright in 2007. “When people ask what do I do, my answer is that I build cities. To do that, and do it well, we have to be in harmony with nature. This also applies to our corporate philosophy.”

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