Author Archives: Partnership for Water Sustainability

  1. DOWNLOAD: “The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – following release of Living Water Smart, this grass-roots capacity-building program was undertaken in response to the Province’s call to action create greener communities and prepare for climate change

    Comments Off on DOWNLOAD: “The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – following release of Living Water Smart, this grass-roots capacity-building program was undertaken in response to the Province’s call to action create greener communities and prepare for climate change

    Note to Reader:

    Download a copy of the The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series

    Desired Outcome: All Land and Water Managers will Know What Makes a Stream Healthy

    Released in June 2008, “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” was the Province’s call to action create greener communities and prepare for climate change. To this day, Living Water Smart transcends governments. The ripple effects resulting from transformational initiatives inspired by Living Water Smart are reverberating through time.

    Look back to look forward. What have we learned? How do we pass that understanding (of what we have learned over the past 10 years) onto successive generations of land use, infrastructure and asset management professionals who do their work in the local government setting? How can we help them make informed choices that benefit from past experience?

    A decade later, these are just some of the questions that guide the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan

    “While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework,” Lynn Kriwoken stated in 2008. An Executive Director in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, she personifies continuity, commitment and leadership in bringing the Living Water Smart vision to fruition.

    “This is why we constantly emphasize that Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” added Kriwoken.

    The New Business As Usual

    Looking back, launch of the Living Water Smart outreach program commenced with a precedent-setting approach to capacity-building in the local government sector.

    Known as the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series, and delivered through the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative, this capacity-building program was a “grass-roots” demonstration application of how to build inter-departmental and inter-governmental alignment.

    “We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models and develop models of practice and expertise to support The New Business As Usual,” stated Dale Wall,  former Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Community Development when he announced the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series at the Gaining Ground Summit.

    Demonstration Applications

    Both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay stepped up to the plate and volunteered to host a regional seminar series.

    “Each session in the Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series started at 11:00am and ended at 2:30pm,” stated Peter Nilsen, former Deputy Engineer with the District of North Cowichan. “This was the right length of time to maintain the interest and energy level of participants. Three and a half hours sounds like a lot of time, but it goes quickly; and we were just scratching the surface in terms of the material that we presented.” Inter-departmental participation by all member local governments effectively meant closing front counters on three Fridays for most of the day so that planning, engineering, operations and building inspection staff could attend the Learning Lunch seminars.

    “Throughout the series, our theme and our challenge was to ask participants what will they do better or differently to achieve a shared vision for the Cowichan Valley,” stated David Hewetson, Building Inspector with the City of Duncan. “This is why it was so important to get everyone thinking in terms of the What – So What – Now What mind-map.”

    The Comox Valley series benefited from the insights that were gained from the successful Busy Place Creek walkabout, which was the finale for the Cowichan Valley series.

    “Walkabouts facilitate conversations and on-the-ground learning. This approach proved especially successful when we hosted the Showcasing Innovation series,” stated Kevin Lagan, former Director of Operational Services with the City of Courtenay. “We decided to feature the east Courtenay area in Seminar #1 because this part of the city has evolved from fields and forest over the past two decades, and so has our approach to rainwater / stormwater management. “Placing the spotlight on the east Courtenay area helped seminar participants understand why drainage practices comprise a continuum of paradigms.

    A decade later we celebrate Cowichan Valey and Comox Valley leadership as early adopters; and we reflect on what their efforts set in motion, and what comes next in the capacity-building process.

    To Learn More:

    Read LOOK BACK TO LOOK FORWARD: Experience and relationships flowing from the precedent-setting 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series ultimately led to the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI), recalls John Finnie, CAVI Chair during the period 2006 through 2011

    Visit the homepage for the 2008 Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series.

    Visit the homepage for the 2008 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series.

    Visit the homepage for the 2008 Cowichan Valley Water Balance Forum.

    Breakout groups at Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar #1 – June 2008

     

  2. MUNICIPAL NATURAL ASSET MANAGEMENT IN BC: “We’re aiming to translate enthusiastic interest in our home-grown approach into real-world practice in municipalities and asset management organizations around the world,” says Emanuel Machado, CAO, Town of Gibsons

    Comments Off on MUNICIPAL NATURAL ASSET MANAGEMENT IN BC: “We’re aiming to translate enthusiastic interest in our home-grown approach into real-world practice in municipalities and asset management organizations around the world,” says Emanuel Machado, CAO, Town of Gibsons

    Note to Reader:

    Gibsons is a town of 4,400 residents, situated at the south end of BC’s Sunshine Coast. In July 2014, it became the first municipality in North America – and possibly the world – to pass a municipal asset management policy that a) explicitly defines and recognizes natural assets as an asset class, and b) creates specific obligations to operate, maintain and replace natural assets alongside traditional capital assets, including having natural asset management strategies and financial resources to maintain them.

    The Town has published a free, easy-to-read guide titled Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management: The Town of Gibsons’ experience in financial planning and reporting.

    The Town is a member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, and a convening partner of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI). The Partnership and MNAI share a commitment to support local governments that wish to adopt policies and procedures concerning definition of natural assets and the value of services that can be drawn from them.

    The goal of MNAI is to refine, replicate and scale up Gibsons’ innovative work in other communities. A goal of the Partnership is to inform, educate and build practitioner capacity within local government so that they can then successfully collaborate to implement a whole-system, water balance approach branded as Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.

    Aerial view of the Town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

    Adopting Municipal Natural Asset Management
    (It’s Easier Than You Might Think!)

    “The growth of green infrastructure ideas over time is demonstrated by several recent game-changing advances related to management of ecological services. The leadership and approach implemented by the Town of Gibsons is a leading example of a bold leap forward. It is for this reason that the Partnership for Water Sustainability once again celebrates and showcases the accomplishments of the Town,” states Kim Stephens,  Partnershp Executive Director.

    “It is also noteworthy that the Partnership’s “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” program is the outcome of a 25-year building block process that connects hydrology and ecology. The twin pillars of Sustainable Watershed Systems are:

    • the Water Balance Methodology; and
    • the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP).

    “Demonstration applications to test and validate EAP have shown how communities may determine “the worth” of ecological services and the “dollar value” of the land under those assets. EAP complements the work of the Town of Gibsons in pioneering changes in practice.”

    Nature as the Heart of Municipal Infrastructure

    “We get it. It can feel incredibly daunting to implement a significant change to your established systems – even when there’s clear evidence that change will almost certainly help improve decision-making, reduce asset funding requirements and advance your community’s resilience to climate change over the long-term,” states Emanuel Machado, the driving force behind the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI). He is the Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Gibsons.

    “That’s why the Town of Gibsons, with strong support from the MNAI team was first inspired to create “Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management: The Town of Gibsons’ experience in financial planning and reporting” – otherwise known as ‘Advancing MNAM’.

    Free Financial Guide

    “Officially released in early spring, the free, easy-to-read financial guide is a follow-up to Towards an Eco-Asset Strategy in the Town of Gibsons which outlines our initial efforts to place nature, and the municipal services it provides, at the heart of Gibsons’ municipal infrastructure system.”

    “The key concept is that natural assets (like our own Gibsons Aquifer) which deliver core civil services (such as the storage and filtration of drinking water) should be managed and accounted for in exactly the same way as engineered assets.

    Move from Interest to Practice

    “It’s an innovative, timely idea that’s quickly gaining traction, as local governments around the world have come to recognize the importance of, and challenges associated with, creating robust, financially sustainable infrastructure.

    “Now, with the release of Advancing MNAM, we’re aiming to translate enthusiastic interest in our home-grown approach into real-world practice in municipalities and asset management organizations around the world.”

    Financial Planning vs Reporting: There is a Difference!

    “In some cases, that means sharing little-known intelligence, such as the fact that federal and provincial governments now include natural assets as eligible funding categories. In other cases, the information is more experience-based,” continues Emanuel Machado.

    “Once we’d officially defined nature as an asset, for example, we discovered we were able to amend our Development Cost Charges (DCCs) bylaw to allow us to collect DCCs for improvements to natural areas on those developments that are serviced directly or indirectly by the applicable natural assets.

    Incorporating Nature is Easy

    “More important than describing some of the financial benefits of adopting MNAM, however, is our desire to show relevant parties, such as municipal asset managers, and financial and accounting staff, how easy it is to start incorporating natural assets into your asset management plan.

    “A key to this is understanding the difference between financialplanning and financial reporting.”

    “Currently, the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB), which creates a handbook to guide public sector accountants, excludes natural assets from being recognized as Tangible Capital Assets. However, just because natural assets may not be officially accounted for (yet), does not mean governments cannot (or should not) include them in their financial plans.

    Getting Started

    “This could mean taking a straightforward step, such as integrating the costs associated with ongoing operations and maintenance of natural assets into your financial models.

    “Or, it could mean committing to a more detailed process, such as developing a basic inventory of natural assets, describing the services they provide, estimating the value of those services and then conducting a simple risk assessment to help prioritize management efforts and focus.”

    In Summary, It’s as Easy as One-Two-Three

    “Either way, our message is this: do not to be overwhelmed.

    “Start with a change in perspective; your assets include not only built or engineered infrastructure, but also natural assets that provide vital civil services.

    “Next, adopt natural asset management practices that feel manageable and will positively impact your community.

    “Then, build on and formalize that work as resources permit. In short, approach MNAM as you would any other worthwhile project – one step at a time.

    “Step one? That’s the easiest of them all; download your free copies of Towards an Eco-Asset Strategy and Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management today,” concludes Emanuel Machado.

  3. CREATE GREENER COMMUNITIES, PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: 2007 Vancouver Island Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum set the stage for “Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan”, and was the genesis for capacity-building programs that have rippled through time in changing the way local governments view creeksheds

    Comments Off on CREATE GREENER COMMUNITIES, PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: 2007 Vancouver Island Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum set the stage for “Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan”, and was the genesis for capacity-building programs that have rippled through time in changing the way local governments view creeksheds

    Note to Readers:

    Released in June 2008, “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” was the Province’s call to action create greener communities and prepare for climate change. To this day, Living Water Smart transcends governments. The ripple effects resulting from transformational initiatives inspired by Living Water Smart are reverberating through time.

    Look back to look forward. What have we learned? How do we pass that understanding (of what we have learned over the past 10 years) onto successive generations of land use, infrastructure and asset management professionals who do their work in the local government setting? How can we help them make informed choices that benefit from past experience? These are just some of the questions that guide the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    Looking back, launch of the Living Water Smart outreach program commenced with a precedent-setting approach to capacity-building in the local government sector. Known as the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series, and delivered through the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative, this capacity-building program was a “grass-roots” demonstration application of how to build inter-departmental and inter-governmental alignment.

    Both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay stepped up to the plate and volunteered to host a regional seminar series. A decade later we celebrate their leadership as early adopters; and we reflect on what their efforts set in motion, and what comes next in the capacity-building process.

    Download a copy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/air-land-water/water/water-planning/livingwatersmart_book.pdf

    “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits” 
    lynch-pin statement in Living Water Smart, p. 43

    “In 2008, the desired outcome in bringing together local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island (for the Learning Lunch Seminar Series) was inter-departmental alignment and a consistent regional approach to implementing Living Water Smart,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

    “The Partnership championed a ‘regional team approach’ to sharing and learning from each other’s experience.”

    Journey from policy to universal implementation:
    Where to from here

    The provincial government has long recognized that communities are in the best position to develop solutions which meet their own unique needs and local conditions. Further, BC’s regulatory environment for urban watershed protection is outcome-based.

    A provincial policy, program and regulatory framework is in place that would result in Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. This framework enables local governments to bridge the gap between policy and action. But it relies on collaborative processes to build practitioner capacity to implement requisite changes in accepted practice.

    Nature of the Capacity-Building Challenge

    Experience and observations over the past decade show that the drawn out nature of the capacity-building journey has unintended consequences when:
    • continual staff turnover is the “new normal” within local government;
    • there is limited capacity for senior staff to “pause & reflect”; and
    • there has been a loss in mentorship from retiring staff in how to implement policy.
    Simply put, the unintended consequences are missed opportunities to “get it right” regarding what communities do on the land and how this affects water. The cumulative impact of “missed opportunities” is to perpetuate practices that, for instance, exacerbate flood and drought risks; and this is happening at a critical moment in time when the rhythms of water are changing – warmer, wetter winters; longer, drier summers.

    Role of the Provincial Government

    British Columbia is at a tipping point vis-à-vis Sustainable Watershed Systems. Without provincial government leadership and direction, the process to adopt, change or evolve standards of practice and apply tools in the local government setting may be painfully slow, might not happen, or could simply peter out due to indifference or neglect.

    As a minimum, provincial government support is necessary if communities are to “get it right” from a water balance perspective vis-à-vis land use, infrastructure servicing of land, and asset management.

    An example of a driver for changes in practice that has the potential to truly be a difference-maker over time is Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. This game-changer flows from Living Water Smart, resulted from “grass-roots” collaboration, and supports outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and address risks.

    While the BC Framework is an important step in a capacity-building process, there is still a long journey ahead. Leadership and coordination by the provincial government, sustained over time, are essential ingredients that would help communities achieve the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems.

    A decade ago, the genesis….

    In 2008, the Partnership decided to explore a collaborative approach that would help local governments make informed land development decisions that meet multiple objectives. The idea was an outcome of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum. CAVI and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities co-hosted this high-profile event in December 2007.

    Regional Team Approach

    Although the Leadership Forum itself was a successful event, it was clear that there had to be a more effective and lasting way to inform and educate those who would benefit most. The concept was to bring together engineers, planners, building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers; and focus on aligning efforts to implement effective green infrastructure.

    The idea resonated, so much so that the original inter-departmental concept quickly mushroomed into an inter-departmental AND inter-governmental concept. Each series comprised three all-day seminars. The Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted the first series in June and July 2008. The City of Courtenay hosted the second series in September, October and November 2008.

    The Story of the 2008 Series:

    Five provincial guidance documents formed the curriculum backbone. Local case study experience informed the program design.

    The approach to continuing education for local government practitioners was precedent-setting.

    Each series comprised three sessions that provided an inter-departmental learning opportunity for collaborative exploration.

    Each series was conducted as a cumulative process, from philosophy to tools.

    The story of the series is captured in a document published by the Partnership. “The purpose of the document was to ‘tell the story’ of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series in the words of those who embraced the concept and made it happen. The Learning Lunch series was precedent-setting,” stated John Finnie, CAVI Past-Chair (2006-2011). At the time, he was General Manager of Water & Wastewater Services at the Regional District of Nanaimo.

    “It came to fruition because of the commitment, the energy and the dedication of our local government partners in three regional districts – Cowichan, Comox and Nanaimo. We endeavoured to weave a seamless storyline that shows how the Learning Lunch series fits into a bigger picture; and how the program elements that comprise Convening for Action on Vancouver Island are linked. Each success built on the last, and paved the way for the next.”

    A substantive outcome: the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI)

    Experience and relationships flowing from the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series ultimately led to the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).

    Launched in 2012, the IREI brought together five regional districts, namely: Capital Region, Nanaimo Region, Cowichan Valley, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. Together, they represent 75% of British Columbia’s population. All five Regional District Boards have passed resolutions supporting inter‐regional collaboration under the umbrella of the Partnership for Water Sustainability.

    The educational goal of the IREI is to build practitioner capacity within local government to implement a whole-system, water balance approach branded as Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. The Partnership is developing approaches, tools and resources that would advance “design with nature” outcomes through collaborative processes.

    participants in the 2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series hosted by the Cowichan Valley Regional District

     

  4. Go green for healthier, happier, richer cities: “Low-carbon measures can help to achieve a range of development priorities,” states Andy Gouldson, lead author of the University of Leeds research project

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    Low carbon investment in cities creates big wins for governments, jobs and economies

    Green infrastructure – from more cycling lanes to cleaner air – not only helps the environment, but also boosts jobs, health and productivity, according to a research released in June 2018.

    Spending money on improved public transport could create up to 23 million extra jobs each year, according to researchers at the University of Leeds in Britain.

    The team analysed more than 700 papers on the impact of low-carbon infrastructure on cities around the world.

    By turning new and existing buildings into energy-efficient spaces, cities can generate a further 16 million jobs, said the report, which was commissioned by the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a group of think-tanks, institutes and universities pushing for more sustainable cities.

    Investing in cycling routes was also worth between US$35 billion (S$47 billion) and US$136 billion a year in public health benefits, the report added.

    “As the evidence mounted up, we were struck by the fact that the cities we want – cleaner, healthier, richer – are made possible through climate action,” said lead author of the study Andy Gouldson, a professor at the University of Leeds.

    “Whether high-quality public transport or segregated cycling lanes, energy-efficient buildings or better waste management, the dollars, lives and hours saved are impressive,” he said in a statement.

    A Trend to Megacities

    Two in three people will be city dwellers by 2050, with the boom concentrated in India, China and Nigeria, according to United Nations estimates released in May.

    As of today, 55 per cent of the world’s population live in urban areas, increasing to 68 per cent by 2050, according to the report on urbanisation by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

    The world already has 33 megacities – the largest urban hubs – with another 10 megacities expected to take shape by 2030, mostly in developing countries, the UN report said.

    “Governments face a number of urgent challenges in cities: delivering decent services, ensuring a healthy environment, creating economic opportunities for residents,” said economist Sarah Colenbrander from the Coalition for Urban Transitions.

    “Low-carbon investment in cities can help meet the needs of residents today, while protecting cities for residents of the future,” she said in a statement.

    To Learn More:

    Download the Background Paper on The Economic and Social Benefits of Low-Carbon Cities: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.

    From cycle lanes to cleaner air, going green will boost jobs and health in cities, a University of Leeds study says.

     

     

     

  5. Green roofs and walls could boost residential property values by 15%, report Australian researchers

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    Expanding the Living Architecture in Australia

    A team of researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have spent the past twelve months analysing the business case for more green roofs and walls in Australia.

    Titled ‘Expanding the Living Architecture in Australia’, the research explores whether a mandatory or voluntary approach to green roofs and walls would work best in Australia, and draws on scientific literature and international case studies to illustrate how it could work in a localised setting.

    The researchers conclude that a large-scale and coordinated effort to retrofit green infrastructure into the built environment could see residential property values increase by 6 to 15 per cent as well as providing social, health and environmental benefits.

    Green Roofs, Green Walls (GRGW)

    “With predicted temperature increases, urban centres will become hotter and less comfortable. Our project outlines the opportunity to mitigate these increases through a wide-scale GRGW effort,” said Sara Wilkinson, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Technology.

    Her research focuses on sustainability and adaptation in the built environment, user satisfaction, retrofit of green roofs and conceptual understanding of sustainability. Sara is on the editorial board of five international refereed journals.

    Prior to becoming an academic, she worked in London providing professional Building Surveying services particularly in refurbishment of commercial buildings and social housing.

    “Currently, Australia has no consistent policy approach to GRGW except for the City of Sydney and the City of Melbourne, which have policies that align with their respective 2030 and 2040 sustainability targets,” continued Sara Wilkinson

    “Barriers to adoption here in Australia include installation and maintenance costs, and a lack of awareness, professional guidance and experience when it comes to working on projects involving this kind of green infrastructure.

    “Research suggests that these barriers will diminish over time as living infrastructure is considered earlier in the building timeline and that more offices and large residential blocks are retrofitted with GRGWs economies of scale will be realised.”

    To Learn More:

    Read the full release Green roofs and walls could boost residential property values by 15%

    The full report Expanding the Living Architecture in Australia (GC15001) is available upon request at Hort Innovation’s website. GC15001 is a Green Cities Fund project, which has been developed by Hort Innovation as part of its recently developed Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative.

    One Central Park is an award-winning mixed-use building located in Sydney, Australia in the suburb of Chippendale. The building itself comprises two residential apartment towers, an east and west tower, in addition to a six level retail shopping centre at the base of the towers.

     

  6. Financing the New Water Infrastructure: “Green and distributed infrastructure options are having their moment, and municipal leaders are taking notice,” wrote Cynthia Koehler, executive director of the WaterNow Alliance

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    Save Money, Maintain Environmental Health

    “Permeable pavements capture and filter stormwater; recycling technology is turning buildings into treatment facilities; water-efficient appliances, landscaping and water smart tech tools are stretching water supply far beyond projections,” wrote Cynthia Koehler, executive director of the WaterNow Alliance, in an article published by the National League of Cities.

    “These decentralized innovations — distributed over many properties — perform the same functions as conventional built water infrastructure, capturing, treating and managing water. But they are often much less expensive than conventional infrastructure, and more compatible with maintaining environmental health.”

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete article, download Financing the New Water Infrastructure

    WaterNow Alliance is a forum specifically for urban water leaders who want to champion sustainable, affordable and climate resilient water strategies.

     

  7. ARTICLE: A pillar of Sustainable Watershed Systems, the Ecological Accounting Process has the potential to transform how communities make decisions about creekshed restoration (an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun (June 2, 2018)

    Comments Off on ARTICLE: A pillar of Sustainable Watershed Systems, the Ecological Accounting Process has the potential to transform how communities make decisions about creekshed restoration (an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun (June 2, 2018)

    Note to Reader:

    On Saturday, June 2nd 2018, the Vancouver Sun newspaper published an op-ed article co-authored by four members of the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s leadership team, namely: Kim Stephens (Executive Director) in collaboration with Ted van der Gulik, Tim Pringle and Peter Law. The article is reproduced below.

    In 2008, the Living Water Smart program called British Columbians to action to create greener communities and prepare for climate change 

    Water defines British Columbia, and the rhythms of water are changing – winters are wetter and warmer; summers are longer and drier. Flood, drought, fire, wind and cold – extreme events are the New Normal. We are at a tipping point. When will communities adapt, and how?

    In 2008, “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” was the Province’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments. The vision:

    “We take care of our water, our water takes care of us.”

    On the 10th anniversary of its release, we celebrate transformational initiatives set in motion by Living Water Smart, wrote the four co-authors.

    Collaboration in the Local Government Setting

    The hard work of hope has resulted in a policy, program and regulatory framework that enables community-based action to adapt to the New Normal. Living Water Smart successes are defined by collaboration and a “top-down / bottom-up” approach. This brings together decision-makers and community advocates.

    “While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework,” Lynn Kriwoken stated in 2008. An Executive Director in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, she personifies continuity, commitment and leadership in bringing the Living Water Smart vision to fruition.

    “This is why we constantly emphasize that Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” added Kriwoken.

    Game-Changers Flowing from ‘Living Water Smart’

    The legislative piece is the Water Sustainability Act, one of several game-changers. A historic achievement, the Act recognizes the connections between land and water – what happens on the land matters!

    What Makes a Stream Healthy:

    In Living Water Smart, the lynch-pin statement is:

    “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits”.

    This vision statement guides the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting. The Partnership collaborates with the province, local governments, stewardship sector and First Nations to develop and mainstream approaches, tools and resources that advance “design with nature” outcomes.

    Strategic Direction for Local Government:

    Another game-changer flowing from Living Water Smart is “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework”. Led by Asset Management BC, the BC Framework sets a strategic direction for local government service delivery. It refocuses business processes on how physical and natural assets are used to deliver services, and support outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and address risks.

    Sustainable service delivery by local government occurs alongside associated evolution in community thinking. By managing the built and natural environments as integrated systems, local governments would incrementally move towards a water-resilient future as an outcome.

    Value of Ecological Services:

    Hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. Thus, integration of the Partnership’s work within the BC Framework should accelerate implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach at the heart of the Partnership’s “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” program.

    A pillar of Sustainable Watershed Systems is the Ecological Accounting Process. EAP establishes what the definable benefits of ecological services derived from creekshed hydrology are, what they may be worth to stakeholders, and how they may be maintained and enhanced. EAP has the potential to transform how communities make decisions about creekshed restoration.

    Water & Food Security:

    Yet another game-changer flowing from Living Water Smart is the B.C. Agricultural Water Demand Model. It accounts for climate change, is applied to establish future needs for Agricultural Water Reserves, and is the engine for the online B.C. Agriculture Water Licence Calculator. Developed to support implementation of the B.C. Groundwater Regulation, the Calculator quantifies outdoor water use for any property in B.C., including residential.

    Call to Action

    B.C. communities can adapt to the New Normal. They can create a water-resilient future where flood and drought risks are reduced. As a result of initiatives inspired by Living Water Smart, we have tools and experience to “get it right”. So, through collaboration and commitment, together let’s make it happen – sooner, not later!

     

  8. Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential on Vancouver Island: “The long-term vision is to transform a decommissioned sawmill site on the Courtenay River into a valuable eco-asset corridor,” stated Project Watershed’s Jennifer Sutherst

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    Note to Reader:

    In March 2017, the stewardship sector hosted a transformational event, the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium. Sponsored by the four local governments, the theme for this ‘watershed moment’ was Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential.

    The excitement and energy generated by the Symposium has helped to move forward the long-term vision for transforming a decommissioned sawmill site on the Courtenay River into a valuable habitat corridor that could also transform the city’s most troublesome flood liabilities into an eco-asset corridor for the whole community.

    The salmon-bearing Courtenay River flows through the City of Courtenay into the K’omoks Estuary, Baynes Sound and the Salish Sea. Project Watershed’s inventory of more than 40 potential projects for the K’omoks Estuary identified the 3.5 hectare sawmill site as a key area of damage and top restoration priority. It is situated adjacent to the protected Hollyhock Marsh.

    Watch the Kus-kus-sum story on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSKHzSSkWN0

    Kus-kus-sum Restoration on the Courtenay River Connects Eco-Assets to the Power of Community Partnerships and Storytelling

    Project Watershed is leading the local community in a historic effort to restore this important ecological site and salmon habitat in partnership with the K’omoks First Nation and the City of Courtenay. Each project partner and the community at large has come together to learn and share the many benefits of watershed restoration.

    “All the salmon stocks that are returning to spawn in the Tsolum River watershed or the Puntledge River watershed have to migrate past the site,” states Jennifer Sutherst, Estuary Coordinator and Staff Biologist.

    “We want to take this community eyesore and turn it into an ecological asset. It’s really important to see that we’re going to be able to turn the site back to a natural functioning condition. Then it’s going to support fish and wildlife and be  a community asset.”

    As part of the Comox Valley Youth Media Project’s latest documentary series Food for Thought, 16-year-old filmmaker Jessica Speck created this short video exploring the many positive impacts of the groundbreaking Kus-kus-sum initiative to “unpave paradise”.

    Tranformative Action Through Storytelling Galvanizes Community

    “The Comox Valley is approaching a watershed moment in land restoration, and all of British Columbia can learn some important lessons here,” states Vanessa Scott, writer and community organizer volunteering with Project Watershed.

    “Last fall, Project Watershed launched its public campaign to purchase and restore the sawmill site on the Courtenay River. Renamed Kus-kus-sum to honour K’omoks First Nation’s historic uses of the area, this is the most ambitious restoration initiative in the history of the Comox Valley. It showcases the combined efforts of many watershed champions.

    “Whether motivated by the return of healthier salmon runs, the cultural and territorial recognition of the K’omoks First Nation, or the reduction of flood risks and preparation for climate change, everyone in the community has a story reflected in this inspiring project.”

    The site when it was a sawmill operation (photo credit: Dan Bowen)

    Collaborate, Connect Dots and Create Synergies

    “At the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium in April 2018, an event which was inspired by the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium, many critical themes emerged which the Kus-kus-sum story brings to life. The Nanaimo Symposium provided a platform and call for action that adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we value nature and relate to the land,” continues Vanessa Scott.

    “If we are to achieve any meaningful level of sustainability, all development has to be not only sustainable, but restorative,” said keynote speaker and author Bob Sandford, who also headlined the Comox Valley event. “We face so many overlapping and intersecting crises we can no longer afford to fix them one at a time or in isolation of one another. All future development must seek double, triple, if not quadruple benefits in terms of the restoration….”

    Pilot for a National Initiative: 

    “From the City of Courtenay’s perspective, Kus-kus-sum delivers exactly this convergence of multiple opportunities and risks to drive municipal interest in the project as an ‘eco-asset’ restoration,” observes Vanessa Scott. “Such a science-based and policy-driven conversation requires many parties and flows naturally from the successful Eco-Asset Management Symposium held last year in Courtenay in partnership with the Comox Valley Land Trust, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and Project Watershed.

    “As a feature of the City of Courtenay’s updated floodplain management plan, Kus-kus-sum has been selected as a pilot project in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Municipal Natural Asset Initiative (MNAI) as an innovative way to “address the twin problems of ageing infrastructure and ecosystem decline.”   The sustainable service delivery implications of achieving flood attenuation, by using green infrastructure to protect private and public built infrastructure, is also a case study in providing a buffer for future extreme events and climate change.”

    Moving Towards Restorative Development

    “As we learned at the Nanaimo Water Symposium, anecdotal evidence suggests that BC is beginning to experience a public groundswell of heightened energy and awareness of the watershed context. Through flagship projects like Kus-kus-sum, we are learning how this awareness translates into greater public advocacy and empowerment.

    “Projects like this which combine the ingredients for policy action with an inspiring community-led vision — create space and a mechanism to engage communities in big picture values. Led by wild salmon and local passion, Kus-kus-sum is advancing a common agenda with key partners and highlights how public engagement and storytelling is a key driver underlying restoration,” concludes Vanessa Scott.

    What the sawmill site would look like after transformation into Kus-kus-mus (image credit: Robert Lundquist)

     

  9. Vision for Kus-kus-sum estuary restoration in the Comox Valley: “This is a generational moment to create a legacy. Kus-kus-sum shines a light for many estuary communities in the province,” stated Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust

    Comments Off on Vision for Kus-kus-sum estuary restoration in the Comox Valley: “This is a generational moment to create a legacy. Kus-kus-sum shines a light for many estuary communities in the province,” stated Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust

    Note to Reader:

    The former Field sawmill at the mouth of the Courtenay River is now dismantled. The remaining acres of pavement are considered the biggest eyesore in the community. The site was on sale for a decade before Interfor chose to work with local conservation group Project Watershed and the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) in an attempt to achieve “a conversation outcome” on the property.

    The former sawmill site as it looks in 2018 (photo credit: Rick Ward)

    Restoring nature in the Comox Valley: A community prepares to unpave a parking lot and put up a paradise

    “As our industrial economy changes over time, former economic hubs like mill sites are increasingly becoming vacant land. When you add modern regulations, market forces and insurance requirements to the picture, we now have a one-time opportunity go back and restore some estuaries to their natural state,” wrote Tim Ennis in an article published in the Watershed Sentinel in March 2018. He is the Executive “Director, Comox Valley Land Trust.

    “It is the best investment money could make for present and future generations – even though the price tag of unpaving paradise is not cheap,” he added when commenting on the long-term vision that includes connecting Kus-kus-sum to the adjacent and protected Hollyhock Marsh to create a valuable habitat corridor.

    Legacy Impact of a Restoration Outcome

    “This is a generational moment for the Comox Valley to create a legacy based not on conquering nature, but a new era of collaborating to restore our relationships with the land and each other.

    “Kus-kus-sum shines a light for many estuary communities in the province. But it is an example in innovation and leadership for the whole country.

    “One of its greatest values is that it’s literally creating common ground where citizens can imagine together with First Nations partners what a healthier, more inclusive and sustainable future looks like,” concluded Tim Ennis.

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete article, download Kus-kus-sum: A community prepares to unpave a parking lot and put up a paradise.

    And then watch the video below:

     

  10. FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Development and watershed protection can be compatible. Early success on the ground has given us increasing confidence that the 50-year vision is within our grasp,” stated Kim Stephens in a presentation to the Urban Development Institute

    Comments Off on FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Development and watershed protection can be compatible. Early success on the ground has given us increasing confidence that the 50-year vision is within our grasp,” stated Kim Stephens in a presentation to the Urban Development Institute

    udi-luncheon_mar2008_new-wbm

    Development and Watershed Protection are Compatible?
    Since When?

    In March 2008, UDI VIctoria featured a presentation on the Water Balance Model for British Columbia as part of its luncheon program.

    marie-savage_victoria_120pTo draw attention to the event, Marie Savage (UDI Executive Coordinator) sent out the following as a promotional flyer:

    Urban land use has been degrading the natural environment for more than 100 years. Sit on that for a while. 100 years, perhaps more. Holy smokes. So what’s all this talk about developers and builders, the ultimate urban land users, protecting watersheds?

    It’s true. All it took was a twist and a twirl and the connection between runoff, sewers, and the resulting stress on natural systems came out of the pipework. Developers who increase the amount of pervious surfaces on their sites keep rain on-site, delay runoff, and reduce flooding. City planners and engineers love this. The theory is infrastructure costs go down the less the system is used. Okay, pretty plans are one thing – but how do we know that what we’re doing is really making a difference?

    Kim stephens (120p)Kim Stephens can probably tell you. He’s a provincial leader in rainwater management and the Program Coordinator of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. He’s coming to talk about an updated tool for the development industry called “The Water Balance Model.” Unveiled just days ago, you can be part of the beta-testing from now until the end of March.

    He’ll also tell us about CAVI – a network developed to encourage water-centric land-use planning that involves a wide range of stakeholders from government to First Nations to developers, NGOs and the public.

    According to Marie Savage, the UDI luncheon program reaches out to a broad audience mix representing diverse backgrounds, including: developers, realtors, community and municipal.

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    What We Once Believed to be Unachievable…

    The presentation by Kim Stephens comprised two parts.

    First, he provided a provincial context for development and application of the Water Balance Model when he explained “where we have come from”.

    Then, he introduced the program elements for Convening for Action on Vancouver Island to foreshadow “where we are going”.

    In speaking to the land development versus watershed protection compatibility challenge, his key message was this:

    What we believed to be ‘unachievable’ in 1998 may in fact now be within our grasp.

    Kim Stephens reviewed the science-based breakthrough in understanding that led to development of the Water Balance Model as an extension of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002.

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    Stream Corridor Health

    Early in his presentation, Kim Stephens introduced a graphic that was developed a decade ago in response to the salmon crisis.

    Titled Alternative Visions for the Long-term Environmental Health of Stream Corridors (see below), the graphic is a key communication tool in the Guidebook and is the centrepiece of Chapter 9 which is titled Developing and Implementing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan

    “The image of a stream corridor is much like the canary in the coal mine. This led us to develop the concept of planning levels as a decision tool,” stated Kim Stephens.

    “Looking back, and viewed from a salmon habitat perspective, we were not that hopeful about what we could realistically accomplish over time.”

    “A decade ago, we thought that the best we could do would be to Hold the Line for 20 years; and if we could do that for 20 years, we believed that we might be able to improve conditions over a 50-year period.”

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    Rainfall Spectrum

    “We went back to the basics to gain an understanding of how we could protect or restore the natural water balance by changing the way land is developed,” continued Kim Stephens.

    “Early success on the ground has given us increasing confidence that the 50-year vision is within our grasp.”

    “A decade ago, the breakthrough in thinking came when we developed the concept of a Rainfall Spectrum to categorize the rainfall-days that occur each year.”

    “This approach helped overcome fear and doubt because we were able to demonstrate that it is possible to capture rain where it falls, and in so doing prevent rainwater runoff.”

    Downloadable Documents:

    To download a copy of a handout that was prepared for the UDI Luncheon, click on Create Liveable Communities and Protect Stream Health: Water Balance Model powered by QUALHYMO integrates the site with the watershed and the stream

    To download a copy of the PowerPoint slideshow presented by Kim Stephens, click on Development and Watershed Protection are Compatible? Since When?

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