In April 2019, the 2nd Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate will be held in the City of Parksville. This 3-day event will celebrate local government initiatives on Vancouver Island that are “getting it right”. These success stories are characterized by commitment, collaboration and the “hard work of hope”. A decade of effort, by partnerships of local governments and community stewards, is demonstrating success on the ground where it matters. They are on a pathway to reconnect hydrology and ecology. Follow the leaders!
Convening for Action in Shelly Creek: “Because the stream is pushing so much water through, the trees and land around the stream are eroding,” said Peter Law, Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, in a newspaper interview (November 2017)
“We decided to look into what was causing the sediment load that was making the stream wider and reducing the pools. We did a survey, looking at every metre of the stream to find the sediment source and to see if it was coming from one site, or many,” stated Peter Law. MVIHES, working in partnership with the City of Parksville, the Regional District of Nanaimo, Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Partnership for Water Sustainability in B.C. co-funded an engineering study on how to restore watershed hydrology, prevent stream erosion and ensure fish survival.
DOWNLOAD: “The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – demonstration applications in two regions pioneered a ‘regional team approach’ to aligning efforts to implement Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan
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. “Each session started at 11:00am and ended at 2:30pm,” stated Peter Nilsen. “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.”
“During many years, there has no longer been enough water to support the varied needs of fish, local residents, industry and other users. By 2050 critical snow pack is projected to decrease by 85%, reducing lake inflows in the spring and early summer. This will be compounded by a reduction in summer rainfall of 17%,” said Jon Lefebure, Cowichan Valley Regional District Board Chair. “Further, water storage to support continued flow in most years will not be possible in the future without additional storage and adjusted management regimes.”
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
Five provincial guidance documents formed the curriculum backbone for the 2008 series. Local case study experience informed the program design. 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. “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,” recalls John Finnie.
GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “B.C. communities can adapt to the New Normal. They can create a water-resilient future where flood and drought risks are reduced,” wrote Kim Stephens in an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun (June 2, 2018)
“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,” stated Kim Stephens. “The Partnership develops and mainstreams approaches, tools and resources that advance ‘design with nature’ outcomes.”
CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “Our group is like a sponge with all that we are absorbing and then releasing to others in our community,” says Lynne Smith, Chairperson, Saltair Water Advisory Committee
“Within weeks of the formation of the committee being announced, I was introduced to the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, and so I attended their Feast ‘n Famine Symposium in December 2015. How I view water was transformed by the experience. I was energized,” stated Lynne Smith. “It became clear to me that there was more to ‘water’ than just making sure it arrives in our pipes; and this realization has since guided us as a community group. Water is not just about taxation, but rather the very essence that sustains our existence!”
Eco-Asset Action in the Comox Valley: A community prepares to unpave a parking lot and put up a paradise
The excitement and energy generated by the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset 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 Comox Valley is approaching a watershed moment in land restoration, and all of British Columbia can learn some important lessons here,” states Vanessa Scott.
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.”
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.