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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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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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NEW POLIS REPORT: Reconciliation, Water and Watershed Sustainability through Collaborative Consent


“Collaborative consent is about a different way of being together and building a future for Canada in which Indigenous nations assume their rightful governance role as founding nations in this country,” says co-author Merrell-Ann Phare. “There are no barriers standing in the way of BC moving in this direction. Territorial and Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories have been leaders in a collaborative consent approach for years.”

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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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