“I had a real incentive to come to the Cowichan Valley Regional District in 2014 because water was the primary focus. The region was in the midst of a watershed governance study. It was looking at how the CVRD could take a more active role in watershed governance. The Board Chair and I did tours of First Nations communities and met with their chiefs and councils around the intent of this initiative and what would their interest be. We realized that this was bigger than we could take on at that time. Instead, we turned our attention to the Drinking Water & Watershed Protection (DWWP) model for a regional service,” stated Brian Carruthers.
BC Water Sustainability Action Plan
“On behalf of Council, thank you to the Partnership for the Champion Supporter recognition honouring the great work done by City of Kelowna staff in supporting you! I am blessed with the best municipal staff in the country and this is another example of that,” stated Mayor Colin Basran. Most recently, the City of Kelowna stepped up to be in the first cohort of local government partners to operationalize the BC Landscape Water Calculator in three regions (Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island).
“Looking back, 2021 is an extraordinary year of accomplishment for the Partnership. We continued to elevate our game and in so doing demonstrated what is possible. We provided leadership for a range of initiatives of provincial importance. Successes were achieved through the power of collaborative leadership. The process involves bringing the right people together in constructive ways with good information, such that they create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of their organizations and communities,” stated Ted van der Gulik.
WATCH THE VIDEO: “The Partnership for Water Sustainability has its roots in government – provincial, federal, and most importantly, local government. Over three decades, the Partnership has evolved – from a technical committee in the 1990s,to a water roundtable in the first decade of the 2000s, to a legal entity in 2010,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director, in his remarks as part of the Bowen Island Climate Conversation (July 2021)
“Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability as a non-profit society allows us to carry on the Living Water Smart mission. We are growing a network, not building an organization. In terms of my professional career as a water resource engineer and planner, I have been in the right place at the right time, and with the right people. In a nutshell, my responsibilities revolve around delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan through partnerships and collaboration, through a local government network,” stated Kim Stephens.
WHAT DO YOU WONDER / AT A GLANCE: “This page provides a snapshot of what the reader needs to know in order to have a sense of how the Partnership originated, who we are, and why we do what do in developing tools and resources, delivering programs and facilitating peer-based education under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan,” states Ray Fung, Founding Member and Director and a former Chair of the predecessor BC Water Sustainability Committee
“Nested within ‘Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan’, the main goal of the Water Sustainability Action Plan is to encourage province-wide implementation of fully integrated water sustainability policies, plans and programs. The Action Plan recognizes that the greatest impact on water, land and water resources occurs through our individual values, choices and behaviour. The Action Plan promotes and facilitates sustainable approaches to water use, land use and water resource management at all levels – from the province to the household; and in all sectors,” states Ray Fung.
COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP: “The Partnership’s Board of Directors is a team of community-minded and mission-focused elders. These individuals bring Experience, Knowledge and Wisdom to the Partnership’s over-arching goal of inter-generational collaboration,” says Derek Richmond, Founding Member and Secretary
“Although the Partnership is a non-for-profit legal entity, the Board of Directors is guided by a vision for creating a collaborative network. We are not building a conventional organization. The difference in visions is fundamental. The network is a foundation piece for succession planning. The network is the ultimate source of strength of the Partnership because the network holds the key to intergenerational collaboration. It is how we build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future,” states Derek Richmond.
PUT THE MISSION AT THE CENTRE OF THE OPERATION: “The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful in achieving a shared goal. When our partners and collaborators are successful, we are successful,” stated Mike Tanner, Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, when he explained the foundational difference between evolving a network and building an organization
“Within British Columbia, and certainly within the local government setting, The Partnership has a unique modus operandi in terms of our partnership network reason for being. By sharing the pursuit of our mission with our network of partners, we forsake many conventional organizational benefits, such as control over program implementation, funding, and recognition. At the same time, however, we have far more impact than we could ever have on our own. There is a very high level of trust in a network when the people involved know and respect each other,” stated Mike Tanner.
INTER-GENERATIONAL MISSION OF THE PARTNERSHIP: “Collaborative leadership involves bringing the right people together in constructive ways with good information, such that they create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of their organizations and community,” explains Kim Stephens, Executive Director
“The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When our partners and collaborators are successful, we are successful. The Partnership is led by a team of community-minded and mission-focused elders. Although many on the team are retired from their jobs, they continue their water-centric mission as volunteers. Going forward, making the right decisions depends upon benefitting from, and building on, the experience of elders with knowledge plus the wisdom that has been gained through decades of experience,” states Kim Stephens.
OPERATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR PARTNERSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM: “When individuals are invited to join the Partnership Leadership Team, it is because there is ‘a job to be done’. The Province’s Living Water Smart strategy guides what we do. The Partnership’s expectation is that individuals and organizations they represent are committed to advancing the sustainability goals in the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) and its implementation,” states Mike Tanner, Founding Director
Erik Karlsen (1945-2020) was the Partnership’s ‘eminence grise’. When he retired from government, he turned his mind to the work of The Partnership. Influential in government, and the architect of BC’s Georgia Basin Initiative, Erik crafted the think pieces that guided the process for development of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. Erik helped everyone push the boundaries of their comfort zones. The result was a philosophical foundation and framework that has guided The Partnership to this day.
PARTNERSHIP HUB FOR A CONVENING FOR ACTION NETWORK: “Launched in 2012, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative facilitates peer-based education among local governments located on the east coast of Vancouver and in the Lower Mainland,” states Richard Boase, Founding Director and Partnership Vice-President
“The IREI is nested within the Water Sustainability Action Plan which, in turn, is nested within Living Water Smart. Cascading is the reverse way to think about this nesting concept. Each successive layer in the cascade adds depth and detail to enable the move from awareness to implementation – that is, action. In the IREI program, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. This plays out in everything that the Partnership does. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation,” states Richard Boase.