Making Nature Count in the Town of Gibsons – celebrating and showcasing 5 years of leading by example

"Our eco-assets journey began in 2012,” stated Emanuel Machado. “The triggering event was the release of the Gibsons Aquifer Mapping Study. Shortly afterwards the Town changed the definition of infrastructure and formally acknowledged the need to understand and manage (eco)systems and not simply individual infrastructure assets. This action led directly to the Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy."

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The latest milestones in the ‘green infrastructure’ journey focus on the services provided by nature,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

“It is important to recognize that we are all on a journey, and this journey did not just start yesterday. This journey has a 20 year history," stated Kim Stephens. "Post-2015, there are two initiatives in play. One is the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. The other is the Ecological Accounting Protocol Initiative. They have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. It is important to establish precedents. We learn from precedents."

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The engineer cannot tell you what value a natural asset has, nor how important its function is, nor how to maintain that function,” stated Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority, Partnership for Water Sustainability

“We have been working on an ecological accounting protocol approach that recognizes the importance of the stream in its natural state. It is not a thing that carries stormwater,” stated Jim Dumont. “We asked the question – how can we superimpose a drainage function while maintaining that natural function? This is a different way of thinking from saying that we have a drainage system in which we want to have some natural features. "

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” stated Michelle Molnar, environmental economist, speaking for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)

“There has been a lot of work done over the last couple of decade to start to incorporate nature and nature’s services in economics. And the work that we are doing in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is helping to move this along.," stated Michelle Molnar. “We are working to test how nature can substitute, how it can safeguard, and how it can complement existing engineered infrastructure systems. "

At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “Shifting baseline syndrome, whole-system approach, and cathedral thinking – those are the three thoughts that I hope you will leave with in your head,” stated Kim Stephens in his keynote address on the role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy

"With each new generation, your view of the world is based on the world as you see it now. Those images of ‘now’ are in your head. So, when change happens, you have no knowledge of what happened before you," stated Kim Stephens. “Our approach in British Columbia is to say ‘hey, we can make a difference’. We have to think differently about how we develop on the land. The experience and tools that we are developing is key to reversing the trend and making things better.Communities can re-set the ecological baseline.”

VIDEO: “Thinking Like a Watershed: Eco-Assets Explained” – benefits, challenges and ingredients for a successful program (March 2017)

The Comox Valley Conservation Partnership organized an Eco-Asset Symposium in March 2017. “The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values,” stated David Stapley. “With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices.”

DESIGN WITH NATURE: “It’s time we recognized the importance of intact nature and built green infrastructure as central to flood-prevention efforts,” wrote David Suzuki

"Floods have become one of the most visible signs of the effects of climate change in cities, towns and rural areas throughout Canada," stated David Suzuki. "The Insurance Bureau of Canada found one in five Canadians faces some level of flood risk, and 1.8 million households are at very high risk. Climate change–related events — including floods, drought and fires — are a drain on personal finances and the economy."

GET IT RIGHT AT THE FRONT-END, OTHERWISE: “We end up paying far more to fix a problem further down the road when the absolute need to address it leaves no other option,” wrote Rick Baumann, South Carolina newspaper guest columnist

“The science of stormwater management is catching up with the development that has occurred. That is the problem. We are playing catchup – and application of the science is lagging far behind long established established knowledge," wrote Rick Baumann in a guest column. "As early as the 1940’s – when state poet laureate Archibald Rutledge published his classic book 'Home by the River', stormwater had been reeking havoc for quite some time."

FLASHBACK TO 2006: Mini-Summit on Water for Life and Livelihoods, held in Whistler, introduced the “settlement in balance with ecology” principle to focus attention on community wellbeing (May 2006)

"The mini-summit commenced the branding process within British Columbia for use of the phrase ‘water for life and livelihoods’ to focus on what is at stake over both the short and long terms,” stated Erik Karlsen. "It was a presentation by Tim Pringle that introduced the “settlement in balance with ecology” principle to draw attention to a balanced approach to achieving social, environmental, economic well-being — with inclusive and accountable governance."