Water-Centric Planning

Plan with a view to water – whether for a single site, a region or the entire province. Choose to live water smart. Prepare communities for a changing climate. What happens on the land matters – therefore, take into account potential impacts of land use and community design decisions on watershed function. Look at water through different lenses. When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change.

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Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest

“Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed,” explains Kim Stephens.

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World Water Day 2018: “Streamkeepers is advocating for the introduction of municipal incentives for permeable – or ‘green’ – surfaces,” wrote Glen Parker, North Shore Streamkeepers, in an opinion piece about rainwater management and “changing the way we do business” in Metro Vancouver’s North Shore region

“While it’s customary here to lament the sheer amount of precipitation our city gets, the fact is that rain, and the waterways through which it flows, play an incredibly important role in our region’s beautiful and diverse ecosystem – an ecosystem that requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure the sustainability of the surrounding environment and wildlife,” wrote Glen Parker. “Perhaps because rain is thought of as a force of rejuvenation and renewal, we often neglect to think about how stormwater can actually endanger our ecosystems and fish populations.”

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The Watershed Project (San Francisco): “We develop programs that make residents feel like they can be part of the solution,” stated Juliana Gonzalez, Executive Director

When Juliana Gonzalez explains to her neighbors what a watershed is, she’ll often crumple up a ball of paper and flatten it out with a little ridge running across the middle. Then she’ll dip the tip of her finger in a glass of water and let a single drop trickle down the page. “That ridge is called the water divide,” she says, “which means when it rains the water will go down one side or another. Wherever that water runs, collects and drains out is a watershed.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2016: “Our goal was to produce a publication that profiled the health of key streams and connected residents with the waterways in their neighbourhood,” stated Julie Pisani, Regional District of Nanaimo

We all learn from stories and the most compelling ones are based on the experiences of those who are leading in their communities. Local government champions on the east coast of Vancouver Island are sharing and learning from each other through inter-regional collaboration. “In the RDN, we have seven basin-scale ‘water region’ areas for planning and communication purposes,” reported Julie Pisani. “We profiled streams in each of those water regions, where stewardship groups have been collecting water quality data.”

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CASE FOR WHOLE-SYSTEM, WATER BALANCE APPROACH ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “The survival of Coho salmon in the Englishman River depends on a healthy Shelly Creek,” states Peter Law, Vice-President, Mid Vancouver Island Enhancement Society

“Community stewardship volunteers are demonstrating what it means to embrace ‘shared responsibility’ and take the initiative to lead by example. MVIHES secured funding from multiple agencies and developed the Shelly Creek Water Balance & Sediment Reduction Plan,” stated Peter Law. “The challenge for MVIHES is to facilitate the community’s journey from awareness to action, expressed as follows: Once a community as a whole acknowledges that there is a problem, and also understands why there is a problem, what will the community do about it?”

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Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Regional District of Nanaimo: “The program is well positioned, with a model of innovative collaboration, to tackle the issues and chart a new course to a sustainable water future,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator

“Like other locations in the province, the region is experiencing change: population growth as more residents are attracted to the area; climate change that manifests as longer, drier summers and more frequent short-duration intense rainstorms; and an evolving regulatory landscape that opens up possibilities for local water management,” explained Julie Pisani. “The solid foundation developed in the first 10 years provides a great opportunity to move forward. Will other regions take notice and follow in RDN’s footsteps?”

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WEBINAR (March 8): An opportunity to learn about innovation in public engagement in the Ottawa River watershed

“PlaceSpeak is designed for how Canadians behave in a digital age. Individuals are in the driver’s seat, deciding how they want to participate, on what topics, and how often they wish to be notified about opportunities to provide input,”stated Marina Steffensen. “This platform will allow us to break down the feedback received, resulting in a more nuanced and meaningful understanding of how participants use and interact with the Ottawa River watershed across diverse communities.”

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NEW BOOK (January 2018): “The Hard Work of Hope – Climate Change in the Age of Trump” – co-authored by Bob Sanford and Jon O’Riordan – seeks to develop effective solutions to the growing urgency for global action on climate change

This latest Rocky Mountain Books Manifesto emphasizes three themes: the growing urgency for global action regarding climate change; the fact that future development must not just avoid causing damage but strive to be ecologically and socially restorative; and the reality that effective solutions require changes to technology, restoration of biodiversity and increased public awareness. “Hope will require hard work by everyone if our planet is to remain a desirable place to live in a warming world,” wrote Jon O’Riordan.

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THE HARD WORK OF HOPE: “We still have a chance to save our environment,” wrote Bob Sandford in an opinion piece published in conjunction with release of his latest book (January 2018)

“The 2030 Transforming Our World agenda raises the ceiling on sustainability. The agenda makes it very clear that sustainable development can no longer simply aim for environmentally neutral solutions,” wrote Bob Sandford. “Canada, and British Columbia in particular, are in a good position to make sustainability possible. Though our society is powered by petroleum and lubricated by oil, it floats on water. Our society is a vessel in its own right. It is a lifeboat carrying us all over water toward the future.”

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“The Fraser River would be able to supply much of the water required for food security in British Columbia,” wrote Ted van der Gulik in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun (November 2017)

“The lower Fraser Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in Canada, is vital to B.C.’s long-term food security,” wrote Ted van der Gulik. “At the mouth of the Fraser, the consequences of summer droughts and rising sea levels combine to impact river water quality while at the same time increasing the need for irrigation water. Delivering the water (from the Fraser River) would require a huge investment in infrastructure.”

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CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION: “If communities are to adapt, and be quick about it, we must move beyond ‘shock and yawn’,” wrote Bob McDonald in a co-authored opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun (November 2017)

“No longer is climate change a future scenario. It has happened more quickly than predicted. The real story is the accelerating rate of change, especially since extreme events create their own weather,” stated Bob McDonald. “As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely. Actually adapting requires transformational changes in how we apply hydrologic understanding.”

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