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Convening for Action in the Province of British Columbia

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2005: Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative formally launched at a conference about “Water-Our Limiting Resource” (held in the Okanagan region)


The Kelowna conference was designed to be a transformational event that would be a catalyst for change. “It was an important first step in focusing stakeholder attention on the decisions that need to be made now if we are to move towards sustainable water management in BC. Collaboration is an essential ingredient if collectively we are to create the province-wide momentum that will result in substantive change related to water management and use,” stated Don Degen.

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FLASHBACK TO 2004: Developed through a precedent-setting partnership, the “Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia” launched a fresh approach for turning ideas into action


“The action plan’s goal is to encourage implementation of integrated water sustainability
policies, plans and programs across the province. The action plan builds on the foundation provided by
‘A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia’, a previous partnership development. The
‘WaterBucket’ website is the key communication strategy for the action plan,” stated the Hon. Bill Barisoff, former Minister of Water, Land & Air Protection.

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2004 Consultation Workshop about “Model Subdivision Bylaw & Green Infrastructure Standards” was the launch event for British Columbia’s Green Infrastructure Partnership


According to Chuck Gale, “For the purposes of articulating what we wish to accomplish over time, our short-term and long-term efforts will be guided by the following Mission Statement: the Green Infrastructure Partnership will provide leadership by developing practical tools and instruments for green infrastructure design practices and regulation, and by encouraging their application in BC.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2004 CONSULTATION WORKSHOP: What is “Green Infrastructure”?


“Using a narrow interpretation, green infrastructure refers to the ecological processes, both natural and engineered, that are the foundation for a healthy natural and built environment in communities,” wrote Deborah Curran. “Municipalities using the green infrastructure as an integral part of how development occurs find that it is often less costly than hard infrastructure, and also offers aesthetic, environmental, health and recreational benefits.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2004: “Judge progress by the distance traveled, not the distance remaining,” stated Kim Stephens at Consultation Workshop for “Model Subdivision Bylaw & Green Infrastructure Standards”


“We have come a long way in just four years. Our experience in bringing the vision to fruition for the UniverCity Sustainable Community on Burnaby Mountain provides relevant context. It was not that long ago that the project was hanging by a thread. We have been successful in overcoming fear and doubt,” stated Kim Stephens. “In 2000, translating high expectations for UniverCity into practical design guidelines meant revisiting accepted drainage engineering practice.”

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