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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.

BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015: Local governments urged to look at an urban watershed as a whole system, and develop fully integrated solutions that stand the test of time

The pioneer work of Richard Horner and Chris May in the 1990s provided a reason and a starting point for revisiting urban hydrology in BC. “So many studies manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables,” states Horner. “We, on the other hand, investigated whole systems in place, tying together measures of the landscape, stream habitat and aquatic life.”

TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION: Implementing change in BC – “Beyond the Guidebook 2015″ illustrated the process for moving a new idea or innovation from genesis to mainstream

"Everyone learns from stories and the most compelling ones are based on the experience of the champions who are leading implementation of watershed-based solutions," wrote Richard Boase. "The rate of progress in implementing new ideas or standards of practice generally depends on the willingness of individual champions in local government to push the envelope in applying new approaches."

FLOWnGROW WORKSHOP: “We have many of the puzzle pieces needed to ensure a sustainable water future,” stated Steve Conrad

How we use our water is set by individual choices. Faced with various scenarios, residents will make decisions based on environmental and economic choices. “Moving forward, what we need to do is remember that putting puzzles together works best when you have many people looking at it from all angles.” His research interests include human behavior response to resource management policy.

FLASHBACK TO 2003: Urban Forum at UBCM Annual Convention introduced local governments to “CitiesPLUS” and “Water Balance Model” initiatives (Sep 2003)

The two-part UBCM Urban Forum session explored new tools and innovative approaches that local governments can use to make communities more liveable and sustainable. “In part one, the citiesPLUS team showed delegates the winning plan and also looked at lessons learned and insights gained that communities across the province can learn from,” stated Ken Cameron.

British Columbia vision for implementation of “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” introduced to Australian audience at national stormwater conference (Aug 2016)

“The Rising to the Challenge conference was a milestone event. Because Australian practitioners are at a fork in their journey, they are looking to learn from BC experience. They are curious about our 'whole systems' approach to water balance management," stated Kim Stephens. "I introduced Australians to three 'big ideas' that underpin where we are heading in BC, namely: Primacy of Hydrology, Shifting Baseline Syndrome, and Cathedral Thinking."

UBCM Urban Forum: Moving Toward Sustainable Urban Development in British Columbia (Sep 2003)

“The combination of the two presentations was quite powerful,” stated Surrey Councillor Marvin Hunt, Forum Chair, in his closing remarks. “Because the Guidebook and Water Balance Model presentation was about on-the-ground action, it showed how to make the 100-year vision real to BC’s elected representatives. The take-away message is clear: If communities design with nature, the 100-year vision will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

In 2003, the Inter-Government Partnership called on BC politicians to embrace water balance thinking and “Design with Nature” at the Union of BC Municipalities Urban Forum

"With release of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia in 2002, the Partnership set out to change the way land is developed in BC,” states Ted van der Gulik. “Our mission is to influence the culture in the local government setting. From the start, we have had high-level political endorsement and support. Notably, in September 2003, the Union of BC Municipalities provided us with a platform to tell our story.”

Designing with Nature in British Columbia – a presentation to local government elected representatives on “Walking the Talk for Sustainable Community Design” (Sep 2003)

Mayor Barry Janyk (Town of Gibsons), Dipak Basu (City of Chilliwack) and Kim Stephens (Inter-Governmental Partnership) tag-teamed to tell the story of the inter-governmental partnership that had developed the Water Balance Model as an extension of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia. "In the interactive session, it was clear that our story had resonated with my fellow elected representatives. They got it!," stated Barry Janyk.

MISSION POSSIBLE: “Major breakthroughs happen when decision-makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community,” stated Eric Bonham, founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

"Major breakthroughs happen when decision-makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community to create the future desired by all. Collaboration grows from a shared vision about the future and commitment to action. This is the ‘top down and bottom up’ approach," stated Eric Bonham.

2015 Water Balance Forum: Agenda Overview – “The town-hall approach to audience interaction at the start primed the group for the technical content,” stated Ted van der Gulik

The agenda for the half-day forum was structured in four parts. "The forum program was a mix of storytelling, showcasing, sharing and teaching so that we would achieve the learning outcomes,” reports Ted van der Guilik. "Our objective in the first two segments was to engage and energize our audience. For this reason, we conducted them as town-hall sharing in order to prime everyone for the teachable moment in segment #3.”