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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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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “The Blue Ecology concept for ‘interweaving’ Western and Indigenous thought goes to the heart of bringing different worlds together,” stated Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“The Fraser River is my passion. The Fraser is one of the most diverse river basins in North America. The Fraser River’s diversity – including people and landscapes – inspires me. However, we need to apply ‘Watershed CPR’ to the Fraser to return it to health,” stated Fin Donnelly. “The impacts and consequences of this summer’s fires will be far-reaching. For years to come, Fraser River water levels (high and low) and quality will be affected.”

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GENESIS OF BLUE ECOLOGY: “Water – A First Nation’s Spiritual and Ecological Perspective”, a paper by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar of Gitxsan descent, published in 2001


At the age of 86, Mildred Michell (N’whal’Eenak, or Rising Star, was born on May 13, 1914 and passed away on October 2, 2000) agreed to be interviewed on the importance of water to our lives. She was a highly respected and knowledgeable Elder in her Nation and by other Nations in the southern Interior. She was very concerned that the water was drying up, about pollution, and about the changes in the weather’s annual cycle.

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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “downstream: reimagining water” (2017) – anthology co-edited by Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong envisions an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic to tackle climate change


“This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming,” wrote Dr. Dorothy Christian, co-editor. She is dedicated to building and strengthening any alliances with non-Indigenous communities who are open to hearing how Indigenous ways of knowing informs relationships amongst all living things.

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “We are now specifically planning for not only the changes we can control, but the biggest one we can’t, which is the precipitation itself,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney when explaining the addition of the Climate Change Module in the Water Balance Model for British Columbia


“The Climate Change Module enables a wide range of stakeholders to make decisions based on a detailed assessment of climate change effects on local drainage, without having to decode the huge body of confusing and contradictory literature,” stated Charles Rowney. “Delivering this capability quickly and easily on the web is a ‘must’ – and this result is a ‘first’. The art form here was to find a way to incorporate meaningful estimates of future precipitation.”

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A CALL TO ACTION: Governments, First Nations, Private Stakeholders, Watershed Governance and Policy Experts, and Members of the Public Convene to Discuss the Future of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable and Watershed Initiatives in BC (June 10, 2017)


“With the development and launch of the Lower Coquitlam River Watershed Plan in 2015, the Roundtable is poised to implement strategies for action in partnership with local municipalities, the regional government, First Nations, and private/public stakeholders to support watershed sustainability.” states Melissa Dick. “To ensure the long-term engagement of the Roundtable in watershed initiatives and planning, sustainable funding sources are required.”

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Collaboration to Action — Leadership and Investment in Canada’s Blue Economy


At the 8th annual Canadian Water Summit in Toronto in June 2017, delegates will explore opportunities to collaborate on water technology and infrastructure finance, “blue economy” growth and climate change resilience. “Conserving our freshwaters can only happen with the support of businesses and corporations. It is their leadership that can shift market forces from loss and overuse, to conservation and sustainability,” stated Dan Krause.

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BOOK LAUNCH: “downstream: reimagining water” envisions a new water ethic


“The book ‘downstream: reimagining water’ is an anthology,” explains Michael Blackstock. “It brings together the perspectives of artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists. It does this by exploring the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology. My chapter is titled Interweaving Water. It outlines four steps toward transforming sovereign knowledge into collaborative knowledge.”

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DOWNLOAD ARTICLE: Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium shines spotlight on “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” (March 2017)


”The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values,” states David Stapley, Program Manager with the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. “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.”

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A Perspective on Water Management in Australia: “Water supply needs a splash of competition,” wrote Dr. Peter Coombes in an op-ed for the Financial Review newspaper


“The economic efficiency of Australia’s centralised water utilities is rapidly declining – and consumers are paying for it. At a macroeconomic level (household welfare across the economy), grid water costs of households in Melbourne, Adelaide and South East Queensland have jumped by up to 180 per cent over the past decade, while water usage has increased by less than 10 per cent,” wrote Peter Coombes.

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OP-ED ARTICLE: The Moment of Truth for a Changing Climate (published in the Vancouver Sun in January 2017)


“Blue Ecology is defined as the interweaving of Western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge,” stated Kim Stephens. “This article is an early step in a process to raise awareness of Blue Ecology and inform a provincial conversation about what we can do to manage water as a whole-system. Blue Ecology aligns with the whole-system, water balance approach for restoration of watershed systems within the built environment.”

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