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Vancouver Island Water

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Streamkeepers and municipalities both have a great deal of unexercised power and capacity to collaborate in the interests of the common good,” stated Bob Sandford in his closing synthesis at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“You have only started; and in so doing, you can move outside the limitations of formal, established governance structures,” stated Bob Sandford. “It is the way to move out from under that, to build new governance pathways. And pathways to real power that can allow you to make change possible in a much shorter period of time. You have proven that, if you change your attitudes, changes in practice follow almost immediately. So, I ask and urge you to carry on. Don’t just be satisfied with slowing and reversing past damage. Keep working to make your world better. You are engaged with pride, and with joy, in the hard work of hope. And what you are doing offers hope to all.”

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NANAIMO WATER STEWARDSHIP SYMPOSIUM – ON YOUTUBE (April 11-12, 2018): “The vision for restorative development is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated John Finnie, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia


“The movies are out! Videos taken at the symposium are now posted on YouTube,” announced John Finnie. “While we are not looking for an Oscar, we must say that the quality of video production is outstanding. Our videographer, Gary Prendergast, has done a fabulous job of blending audio with PowerPoint slides. The extra effort to record the day has resulted in a legacy resource that will give life to the Symposium as a ‘watershed moment’.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: Ministry of Environment hosted a workshop on “Shared Stewardship of Our Water Resources: Now and in the Future”


“In 2007, the Ministry’s first ‘water workshop’ brought together over 120 individuals representing all levels of government and local stewardship groups for a day of talks and discussion,” stated John Deniseger. “In 2008, the focus shifted to ongoing, completed and proposed projects, studies and ideas around shared stewardship of the region’s water surface and groundwater resources. The workshop was aimed at planners at all levels of government, as well as stewardship groups involved in watershed planning.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Where and how land is developed determines how water is used, and how it runs off the land,” stated Kim Stephens at the Shared Stewardship of Our Water Resources Workshop


“Think about what it would mean to preserve the soil layer as a requirement of land development. It acts as a sponge. And what does it do? It means that gardens will use less water; and less water will runoff. We need to think simply in terms of the relationship between land and water, and the sustainability of both water supply and aquatic habitat,” stated Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “There was a sense of urgency. We wanted to talk about and establish some way of collaborating on Vancouver Island,” stated Eric Bonham at the Shared Stewardship of Our Water Resources Workshop


“In A Sound County Almanac,” stated Eric Bonham, “Aldo Leopold wrote that we abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” In Leopold’s vision of a land ethic, the relationships between people and land are intertwined: care for people cannot be separated from care for the land. A land ethic is a moral code of conduct that grows out of these interconnected caring relationships.

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FLASHBACK TO 2003: “Regional District of Nanaimo’s ‘Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program’ had its genesis in British Columbia’s Stormwater Guidebook process,” recalls John Finnie


“In February 2003, a staff report to the Board crystallized the Action for Water vision,” recalled John Finnie. “The 2003 report is a valuable historical document, and built on what the RDN initiated through participation in the Guidebook development process. Not only did it consolidate various directives, it identified a strategy (and associated implications) for moving forward incrementally with the regional service area.”

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DOWNLOAD POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS: A Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (April 11-12, 2018)


Feedback on the Nanaimo Water Symposium is represented by this testimonial from Craig Wightman, Living Rivers: “I want to congratulate and thank the members of the Organizing Committee for their sterling efforts in organizing and staging the joint NALT/Partnership Symposium on Wednesday-Thursday. I thought it was very professional and well-received by a large audience of VI water stewardship leaders. I know there was no formal feedback form for attendees, but also think you’ll be receiving many kudos either personally or by email over the next few days.”

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A vision for restorative development that revitalizes watershed function and health provides a philosophical backdrop for the Nanaimo Water Symposium – “The process of restoring our planet and revitalizing our communities is finally becoming a rigorous discipline, with the proper education and tools,” says Storm Cunningham, author & futurist


The term ‘restorative development’ was coined by the writer Storm Cunningham in his first book ;The Restoration Economy’, published in 2002. Because he has made multiple presentations to British Columbia audiences over the years, and has a particular affinity for Vancouver Island, the Symposium program caught his long-distance attention. On the eve of the Symposium, Storm Cunningham shared his reflections in an interview. His insights provide useful context regarding the challenge of moving from awareness to implementation.

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DOWNLOAD: “Changing the way we do business” in urban watersheds requires that local governments partner with the stewardship sector to “get it right” (synopsis document released at the Nanaimo Water Symposium, April 2018)


Anecdotal evidence suggests a groundswell of heightened awareness of the watershed context for ‘the creek that flows through my backyard’. “Within our growing urban areas, as our community becomes more diverse, being able to reconnect through nature offers the chance to reconnect with each other. By working to restore our urban watercourses, new and old neighbours are building connections between our natural spaces that will lead to a stronger sense of stewardship in future,” stated Rob Lawrance.

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Benefits of Inter-Regional Collaboration: “Peer-based learning is motivating and powerful,” stated Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Office, Cowichan Valley Regional District


In April 2017, staff from the three mid-Vancouver Island regional districts met in Duncan. Their primary purpose in meeting was to inform and educate the Cowichan Valley Regional Board about a range of approaches to watershed management functions and watershed protection plans on Vancouver Island. “The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) and Comox Valley presentations to our Regional Board were of high quality and relevant,” stated Brian Carruthers. A year later, options for a potential establishment bylaw were presented to Board members.

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