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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

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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.

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

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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 in British Columbia

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"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.

British Columbia loses a champion for the environment: Jim Walker (1942-2017), former Assistant Deputy, BC Ministry of Environment

Jim Walker was revered by colleagues in the provincial government and beyond for his efforts to preserve natural areas around B.C. In a newspaper opinion piece published in 2013, he bemoaned what he saw as a lack of exposure to nature for many. “If this early intimacy and connection with nature is absent, will people still have an appreciation of the natural world?” he wrote. “Probably not.” Jim Walker served in government for 28 years. He helped to develop and deliver a number of high-profile provincial initiatives.

Towards Water Sustainability on Vancouver Island: “SO WHAT are the ways we inform, inspire and enable people to work together through partnerships to ACT NOW?”

In September 2006, CAVI-Convening for Action was launched in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference. At the consultation workshop, and to prime breakout groups for their brainstorming, Erik Karlsen led them through a series of questions: What are the conditions that create the need for change? So what are the options and the best choice? Now what are the strategies and commitments? Then what will be done to monitor performance and respond to future changes?

FLASHBACK TO 2006: A message from Barry Penner, former Minister of the Environment, lauded the success of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

“I am pleased with the continuing success of the partnership in providing program delivery for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,” stated Barry Penner. “This initiative is all about sharing information and promoting water stewardship at the community level. I value the important role this partnership is playing in promoting water awareness and supporting communities to integrate water management practices with local land use planning and development programs."

“Meeting of the Minds” in Parksville (Sept 2005): Build a communications network to address the issues facing the water and wastewater industry within the Vancouver Island region

"The group was asked to identify what issues, problems or concerns exist currently within the Vancouver Island region," wrote Kerry Elfstrom. "It was agreed that Vancouver Island could be the focus since it has clearly defined geographical boundaries, every element of the industry represented (suppliers, operators, consultants, educators, interested Associations etc.) and advantageous proximity to the provincial Government."

DESIGN WITH NATURE: North Shore Streamkeepers action plan focuses on “what we can do” to encourage local governments to implement effective rainwater management and protect streams on Metro Vancouver’s North Shore mountainside

"Community input has confirmed that we can work together to reduce the impact of stormwater on our communities and creeks. A consistent theme was that there are a lot of good things being done but it is time for 'the next step'," stated Glen Parker. " Modified sewer/drainage taxes will motivate property owners to manage their stormwater and/or provide resources for our communities to manage it for them."

DOWNLOADABLE BACKGROUNDER: Stormwater Impacts Communities and Creeks-What Can Streamkeepers Do? (released in March 2017)

“The stewardship community can work with local governments to inform the broader community," stated Zo Ann Morten. “We can open eyes and minds. We can open doors so that together we can make the changes necessary to achieve a vision for a watershed. It is the streamkeepers who have the on-the-ground knowledge needed to establish restoration priorities within a watershed. That is the key to benefiting from local input.”

FLASHBACK TO 2009: Convening for Action to advance Smart Planning & Living Water Smart in British Columbia – the “Penticton Forum” showcased partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration in three regions (Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island)

A distinguishing feature of the Penticton Forum was the audience interaction segment that was part of each module. "The Province’s Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives provide a framework and direction for convening for action in the Okanagan, on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver. Each regional initiative is developing a vision and road map for achieving settlement in balance with ecology," stated Glen Brown.

FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Shared stewardship means shared responsibility and accountability for water at the most appropriate scale and capacity,” stated Zita Botelho, Ministry of Environment, when providing a provincial context at Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Cowichan Basin


“Water stewardship involves everyone. Government alone cannot provide all the solutions. Reaching our vision of safe, sustainable, and valued by all requires partnerships – both maintaining the ones we value, like the Water Sustainability Committee, as well as forging new," stated Zita Bothelo.

FLASHBACK TO 2007: Water Sustainability: from awareness to action in British Columbia – through partnerships, partnerships, partnerships! (article published in Environmental Science & Engineering magazine about a conference forum)

"Water is the piece that integrates everything that we care about. We are using the phrase water stewardship, not water management. Stewardship is about replacing self interest, dependency and control with service, responsibility and partnership," stated Lynn Kriwoken. The Water Sustainability Action Plan comprises inter-connected program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to do things differently.

FLASHBACK TO 2006: University of Victoria’s POLIS Project published “Thinking Beyond Pipes and Pumps: Top 10 Ways Communities Can Save Water and Money”

The report is a practical guide that urges community leaders and water managers across Canada to look to water conservation and efficiency as the basis for a new urban water infrastructure. Too often, communities respond to 21st century water problems with 20th century solutions— bigger pipes and bigger pumps leading to bigger tax bills” says Michael M’Gonigle. “Communities are missing out the full potential of water conservation and efficiency.”