The early and strong support of Debra Oakman for demonstrating the benefits of the ‘regional team approach’ in the Comox Valley was a key to the success of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. Her support helped to lay the foundation for successfully launching the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative in 2012. Comox Valley activities and successes have stimulated interest and action in the vision for “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.
Design with nature, a whole-system approach, learn by doing and adapt. These three phrases capture the essence of how the Township builds neighbourhoods. “There are many staff members that have made this happen,” stated Mayor Jack Froese. “Council makes policy and we approve policies. And then it is our wonderful staff that carry out the policies. And so, I certainly want to recognize the work that they have done.”
“The Directors concluded that it would be in the best long-term interests of the Partnership to make membership simple to administrate. Any individual with an interest in green infrastructure and/or water sustainability can become an associate member of the Partnership. All that individuals need do is go to ‘waterbucket.ca’ and follow the instructions to receive the Partnership’s weekly e-Newsletters,” states Peter Law.
“The Regional District of Nanaimo’s water sustainability goals have meshed very well with those of the Partnership over the many years we have worked together. The working relationship enhances the ability of both organizations to reach their common goals in water sustainability while supporting each other. A highlight of that relationship was being part of the Inter Regional Education Initiative, an excellent forum for learning and passing on hard won experience,” stated Mike Donnelly.
A Testimonial to the Partnership for Water Sustainability: “Thanks for your tireless efforts to spread an understanding of hydrology and watershed-based land management!”, wrote Deborah Jones (Jan 2017)
Healthy forests are the backbone of watersheds. Forests of high biodiversity act like a sponge, which holds water on the land and allows clean filtered water into streams and rivers. This helps to ensure healthy fisheries. Unhealthy watersheds tend to have low biodiversity. Water is not retained on the land and erosion is increased. This results in unhealthy stream, river and fisheries and communities.
“Because groundwater licencing is a requirement under the Water Sustainability Act, the Province looked to the Partnership to develop an agriculture water licencing tool,” wrote Ted van der Gulik. “The tool went live on February 29th and is now being used by those applying for a water licence as well as the water licence adjudicators. Additions that have been added to the tool include groundwater and watershed boundaries.”
“The journey to a water-resilient future would be guided by Cathedral Thinking,” states Kim Stephens. “The concept dates back to medieval times. It aptly describes the inter-generational commitment that would be required to achieve a ‘design with nature’ vision – one that integrates water balance solutions into land use decisions, and restores ecosystem values.”
The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is recognized for the leadership that its Drinking Water & Watershed Program is providing. Success is helping to foster a new ‘land ethic’ among land and water practitioners in the region. Bill Veenhof (photo), RDN Chair, thanked the Partnership’s Kim Stephens for providing the RDN Board with an appreciation of how the RDN program is helping other regions overcome the disconnect between information and implementation.
Reflections on the 2015 Drought: “The key now is how we take the 2015 teachable year and build on it in terms of where we go with the new Water Sustainability Act,” stated Kim Stephens when interviewed by Kirk LaPointe on Roundhouse Radio
“In British Columbia, we don’t prescribe. We encourage shared responsibility. Prescribing just doesn’t seem to work. We seem to have to get to a critical mass where people realize that we have to do something,” stated Kim Stephens. “The last ‘teachable year’ was 2003. That set in motion a process that culminated with the adoption in 2014 of the Water Sustainability Act.”
“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress,” says Kim Stephens. “What you do on the land or how you treat the land has direct implications and consequences for water use.”