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.
"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.
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.
For British Columbians, 2015 was the year of the great drought, dwindling snow packs, melting glaciers, beleaguered salmon runs and a costly forest fire season, followed by windstorms and heavy rains. This provided context for an article written by veteran reporter Kent Spencer that speculated as to whether there is a connection with “the Blob”. He incorporated insights that he gleaned from his background interview of Kim Stephens.
Communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable precipitation to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. In April 2016, the Environmental Managers Association of BC hosted a session about the 2015 Drought. “Three speakers presented on different aspects of water scarcity and connected the dots to the Water Sustainability Act. Kim Stephens explained what needs to be done to restore the water balance in urban areas," stated Stephanie Voysey.
“In particular the Partnership’s efforts to bring together five regional districts—Metro Vancouver, Capital Region, Cowichan Region, Nanaimo Region and Comox Valley—to implement the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) has been particularly successful. This program is effectively demonstrating how to align regional and local actions with the provincial policy, program and regulatory framework," wrote Wes Shoemaker.
"It is evident that there are many champions in local government; and it is important that we recognize and celebrate what they are doing. This is all part of creating our future. And when we ask ‘what will this community look like in 50 years’, we can point to the green infrastructure examples and then we will know what it will look like in 50 years," stated Mayor Lois Jackson.
Tim Pringle coined the phrase ecological accounting protocol. “The purpose is to enable comparison of engineered infrastructure to natural systems by means of common units of measurement and value,” states Tim Pringle. “The challenge is in HOW to calculate the most effective blend of services from nature and engineered infrastructure. The need for measurement and valuation is paramount.
“Future planners, engineers, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism and be able to frame the issue of achieving water-resiliency in communities against the backdrop of an unpredictable water cycle. This in turn demands the honing of a further skill, that of working together towards consensus, commitment and collaboration," stated Eric Bonham.
"Drought, forest fires, floods and pine beetle in 2003 created a ‘teachable year’ for change in BC. This gave BC a head-start on many other regions. The outcome? A decade later, provincial ‘game-changers’ are now in place that enable solutions in the local government setting," stated Kim Stephens. "The three game-changers are Develop with Care 2014, the Water Sustainability Act, and Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework."
"We face a number of cumulative and compounding human effects that at present make sustainability a moving target. We need to stabilize these effects if we don’t want adaptation and resilience to constantly be beyond reach," said Bob Sandford. "The problem is that that we have begun to undermine the planetary conditions upon which we depend for the stability of environment and economy that are the foundation of our prosperity."
“Recurring region-wide consequences of water-related challenges have prompted regional action to develop governance structures and processes to make the connections between high-level decision making and actions on the ground," stated Keith Lawrence. "One of the actions undertaken throughout 2015 was a more coordinated approach to communicating what is happening in our region, and what can we do about climate impacts."
“We are using an adaptation strategy developed around the District’s Official Community Plan (known by the acronym OCP). For a local government, everything we do is driven by the OCP. By linking our climate adaptation strategy to the OCP, this results in an enabling framework for discussion and action in the spheres of influence encompassed by the OCP. It is all linked," stated Richard Boase.