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Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium

YOUTUBE VIDEO: “We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology,” quoted Bob Sandford during the public lecture at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“When those who wish to make the world a better place turn to big data and related breakthroughs in deeper communication in support of common understanding of issue such as water and water-related climate concerns, we find that we have arrived too late,’ stated Bob Sandford. “This space has already hijacked by the inevitable forces of power and greed. The public mind is already being heavily manipulated toward other ends. This is also why there has been a widespread resurgence of carefully orchestrated climate denial.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Sponge Communities is a catchy way to describe the goal in restoring the capacity of the urban landscape to absorb water and release it naturally,” stated Kim Stephens, keynote speaker, when he set the context for a call to action to adapt to a changing climate


“The ‘sponge city’ metaphor is powerful and inspirational. As such, China, Berlin and Philadelphia are demonstrating that when there is a will, there is a way. Still, take a moment to reflect upon their drivers for action – floods and droughts! They have learned the hard way that what happens on the land matters. And now, the ‘new normal’ of frequently recurring extremes has forced them to tackle the consequences of not respecting the water cycle,” stated Kim Stephens.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Each of us has helped to make change and pave the way for more people to join in, and for more people to be asked for their input and to have something worth saying,” stated Zo Ann Morten, co-keynote speaker, when she reflected on the role stewardship groups can play to drive restorative development


“The Streamkeepers Program brought about the ability for regular people to learn about their streams, and to use science-based protocols to map and monitor their local waterways. People took to the program like ducks to water. Soon groups were popping up across Pacific Region and the community was seeing first-hand the changes in their watershed. And they started to talk about it, to their neighbours, friends and family, and to governments at all levels. And because it was fun, more people joined,” stated Zo Ann Morten.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “We must build trust with elected reps, local staff and developers to collaborate on Win-Win rainwater projects in the Shelley Creek drainage area,” stated Peter Law, speaking on behalf of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society


“I have some Good News, some Bad News and some Ugly News about Shelly Creek. The good news is that the creek provides limited but valuable habitat for Coho and Trout populations. The bad news is that water quality in the fall, specifically it’s turbidity values are the highest in Oceanside. The ugly news is that the stream channel is suffering from severe erosion and low summer flows,” stated Peter Law. “So can we put the Genie back in the bottle? Can we restore stream flows to natural conditions? Yes.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Regional coordination is a key to success in developing a regional water resource dataset to inform local planning and provincial decisions,” stated Julie Pisani, Regional District of Nanaimo


“The RDN coordinates a surface water quality sampling program in partnership with 13 stewardship groups, Ministry of Environment and Island Timberlands to expand ability to track watershed trends, inform planning and programs, and raise watershed awareness,” stated Julie Pisani. “Through this surface water quality monitoring program we have been able to use citizen science as a way to build community engagement and foster trust amongst partners.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Through Project 2000, we raised awareness of the watersheds where people in Nanaimo live; and we provided space for people to take streamkeeper workshops and become activated as stewards,” stated Paul Chapman, when he provided historical context for the work of the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust


“From the beginning, water has been an important piece of NALT’s concerns. That started with Project 2000 and the Stream Team more than two decades ago. These initiatives covered 17 creeks in the Nanaimo area,” stated Paul Chapman. “As recently as the mid-1990s, the connection had still not been made by the community between storm drains and the creekshed. We all live in a creekshed, and we need to think about that. Project 2000 was about community engagement, empowerment and activation.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “PIP, the Partners in Parks Program, is a public participation program designed to develop, maintain and beautify many new and old open spaces, parks and trails,” stated Rob Lawrance, City of Nanaimo


“Shifts in environmental partnerships have been occurring within the City Parks system. The City has adapted to try and make environmental stewardship a more inclusive activity for residents in order to build connections between residents and natural spaces,” stated Rob Lawrance. “PIP, the Partners in Parks Program, provides an opportunity to get people outside and involved, and it often brings neighbours who may not have even met before to work together to improve their community.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “The spatial distribution of wetlands in the Regional District of Nanaimo is unique, and contributes to the complex relationship between surface water and groundwater,” stated Ashley Van Acken, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute


“There is a high demand for baseline data on wetland systems. Data on the locations of wetlands within urbanized, agricultural, and developed areas, as well as the classification of wetland sites is typically unavailable or limited,” stated Ashley Van Acken. “Understanding the dynamic and complex relationship between wetlands, surface water, and aquifer systems will increase freshwater sustainability in the region.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “I have met so many stewards who are inspiring and so awesome. They do the hard work that creates the data that makes politicians listen,” said Dave Clough, a fisheries biologist who works with streamkeeper groups on the east coast of Vancouver Island


Dave Clough talked about training and supporting legions of volunteer stream stewards – what works and what doesn’t for long lasting watershed engagement. “As a professional biologist, that is my career. But my heart is a streamkeeper. And I was that first. Howard English, down at Goldstream, taught me that the value of caring for the environment could come from anyone, from any walk of life. He was a barber. Streamkeepers are the engine that are going to make this (restorative development) work.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “The RDN demonstrates commitment to watershed initiatives and water sustainability by delivering this service with a long-term reliable funding source,” stated Julie Pisani, Regional District of Nanaimo


“Our program is called Drinking Water and Watershed Protection on purpose. Yes, it’s a long name but it captures the related elements of water that we work on in terms of education, science and policy,” emphasized Julie Pisani. “To get to restorative development, we need to restore (or establish) healthy working partnerships. These partnerships will provide the foundation for implementing and maintaining a more sustainable and restorative way of developing our land base, centered on water protection.”

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