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Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

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Storm Cunningham coined the term “Restorative Development” in his 2002 book, “The Restoration Economy”


“For the past 20 years, the focus of my work has been on bringing places back to life. I am always looking for commonalities – the factors that are present in the successes, or missing in the failures. Some issues seem to be fairly universal. Water is one them. The universality of water is apparent in the way that people renew their water, repurpose their waterfront, or reconnect to the water.”Water is a kind of magic revitalizer,” stated Storm Cunningham.

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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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REGISTER WHILE YOU CAN: Charting a New Course to a Sustainable Water Future on Vancouver Island (April 11-12)


Adapting to climate change requires commmunity empowerment and stewardship sector partnerships with local government. “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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Moving Towards Healthy Watersheds: Local government champions on Vancouver Island share the proverbial wheel, rather than reinventing it


Jody Watson, Nancy Gothard and Julie Pisani are examples of local government partners on Vancouver Island who bring strong enthusiasm and professional skill to fostering collaborative relationships for leveraged outcomes in their work in public education, local data collection, and policy improvements, to promote watershed health in their respective regions. “We each consider it a success when we can achieve more outputs with fewer inputs, and have committed to continue to adopt a sharing approach to their work,” states Nancy Gothard.

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“A perception that nothing else works is a result of not counting the full costs or impacts of sole reliance on centralised solutions,” wrote Dr. Peter Coombes, Australian water champion


“The editor of Australia’s most respected economic and business newspaper, the Financial Review, has questioned the wisdom of the arguments for sole reliance on large scale centralised water infrastructure, in particular desalination. This process motivated an article about competition across scales. This has resulted in a range of actions, including collaboration with our key federal regulator and discussions with a range of government leaders”, wrote Peter Coombes. “The economic efficiency of Australia’s centralised water utilities is rapidly declining – and consumers are paying for it. The political drivers of this market failure are as much to blame as the economic drivers. State bureaucracies own the water monopolies, oversee the regulators, recommend executive appointments and decide membership of consultant panels.”

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ON APRIL 11-12: Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (Field Trip, Public Lecture & Symposium in Nanaimo)


“Community members caring for waterways are the key to making a difference in restoring naturally functioning watersheds over time,” says Zo Ann Morten. She points out that the Salmonid Enhancement Program is active in communities across BC and works with up to 30,000 volunteer stewards. “The stewardship community can work with local governments to inform the broader community. We can open eyes and minds. We can open doors so that together we can make the changes necessary to achieve a vision for a watershed.”

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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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FLASHBACK TO RELEASE OF “BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015” – Watershed Health: game-changers enable local government action in BC


In British Columbia, three landmark provincial initiatives came to fruition in 2014. All embody the enabling philosophy. “Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.

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ATTEND & BE INSPIRED: Nanaimo Water Symposium – Collaboration Success Stories on Vancouver Island (April 11-12)


“Changes in the global climate are accelerating and disrupting the water cycle. Local consequences, ofttimes negative, are magnified. To make the right decisions, we need to understand how and where the water rhythms are changing. We must adjust our land use and infrastructure practices before its too late,” states John Finnie, Chair of the Nanaimo Symposium Organizing Committee. “Attend the symposium on April 11-12, 2018. Listen. Hear. Be heard. And make a difference.”

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Climate Change Adaptation is now given the same priority as Climate Change Mitigation


In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 6 pertains specifically to water: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Goal 6 encompasses water-related ecosystems. “The vital importance of water and water-related trade-offs with climate policy has largely been ignored to date. At first glance, water plays no role in the Paris agreement. Upon closer examination, however, we see that climate policy will have far-reaching implications for the availability of water and vice versa,” wrote Ines Dombrowsky.

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