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Convening for Action in British Columbia

What happens on the land matters. Apply ‘cathedral thinking’ – a far-reaching vision, a well thought-out blueprint, and a shared commitment to inter-generational implementation – to create a lasting water sustainability legacy. Convening for Action is a British Columbia process that is about moving from defining the problems (the ‘what’), to determining options (the ‘so what’), to taking action to achieve results (the ‘now what’), and after that, to replicating in other communities (the ‘then what’).

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia – Our Story (March 2018)


“Future planners, engineers, scientists, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism, working as a team towards consensus, commitment and collaboration for the common good. Such collaboration is essential and must cross all political and community boundaries given that climate change is no respecter of such creations. The Partnership has accepted this challenge and its implementation,” stated Eric Bonham.

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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!,” wrote Ian McHarg.

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Convening for Action in British Columbia


“Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” states Ray Fung. “It will turn ideas into action by building capacity and understanding regarding integration of long-term, strategic planning and the implementation of physical infrastructure.”

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WETLANDS – KIDNEYS OF THE EARTH: “Past land developers did not realize the importance of wetlands, so over 85% of Okanagan wetlands have been filled in or drained. This loss has reduced our ability to manage seasonal floods,”stated Alison Peatt, co-author of Building Climate Resilience in the Okanagan


The guide summarizes climate challenges, and introduces solutions to support Okanagan homeowners in their efforts to protect and enhance their real estate investment from the ongoing challenges of climate change. “The task for the multiple guide authors was how to synthesise all these complex issues into key messages that would help the homeowner connect the dots. Hence the resource guide helps the reader link concepts such as the loss of wetlands to increased flood risk,” stated Alison Peatt. Interwoven throughout the booklet are Syilx Okanagan Peoples perspectives.

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HOW WILL BRITISH COLUMBIA ADAPT TO FIRE WEATHER: “Hope is active leadership. The Indigenous rooted theory of Blue Ecology, or a water-first approach to understanding and dealing with climate change, is a well-spring of hope,” states Michael Blackstock, author


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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2019 SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP CONGRESS IN VANCOUVER: “Implementing sustainable solutions demands leaders who are more emotionally aware and open to learn from those on the leading-edge paving the way,” says Connie Linder, Founder and CEO of Intengine and the Global Change Foundation


“The Intengine Global Change Foundation is making sustainability as a lifestyle and strategy more accessible by providing funding, access, tools and education for sustainability advocates and leaders so they can expand their knowledge and bring this awareness into their profession – whatever that may be,” stated Connie Linder. “Our vision for the future is one that we all likely share, in which economic prosperity needn’t come at the cost of irreplaceable natural resources or violated human rights.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO > Reflections on the 2015 Drought: “Southwest British Columbia dodged a bullet,” stated Kim Stephens in an interview published by The Province newspaper (Dec 2015)


On a positive note, Kim Stephens said the water issue is gaining a prominence in the public’s mind which it has never had. “People in general have not appreciated how vulnerable we’ve always been. They’re beginning to see how essential it is,” he said. Stephens advises the public to stay positive and not succumb to a negative state of mind. “Drought is not the end of the world. Australia survived a seven-year drought. People get through it,” he said. “The clock is ticking. Communities need to leverage this teachable year and seize opportunities to change how the water resource is viewed and managed,”

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PARKSVILLE 2019 SYMPOSIUM: The right players were present, the urgency for meaningful collaboration was recognized, and ‘can do’ success stories were shared in order to explain why and how restorative land development would result in sustainable stream restoration on Vancouver Island and beyond


“Thank you so much for the immense amount of work you do to protect ecosystem services and teach us all about taking responsibility. The Vancouver Island symposium on water stewardship was so inspiring and informative. It was a wonderful experience. I left Parksville feeling hopeful,” stated Councillor Laura Dupont, City of Port Coquitlam. This article provides a re-cap and a synopsis of the modules comprising the symposium program, and features three “stories behind the stories”.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION, PROTECTING BC HABITAT: “Annual workshops provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about topics of local interest and plan ways that they can make a difference,” states Glen Parker, North Shore Streamkeepers


“Throughout BC, there is an amazing network of volunteer groups working to protect riparian habitat, monitor salmonid health and support hatcheries to enhance local salmonid populations. Each group has stories to share about how their members participate as citizen scientists in efforts to support this iconic species,” states Glen Parker. “Other projects focus on education and awareness-building. About once a year we host a 1-day workshop for Streamkeepers and other related groups.”

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OP-ED ARTICLE: Citizen science is in action in British Columbia (published in the Vancouver Province in February 2019)


“Throughout British Columbia, an amazing network of volunteer groups is working to protect, restore and enhance local streams. This movement has its roots in the partnership-based Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) of the 1990s. Under the USHP umbrella, provincial staff fulfilled a coordinating role with local government, keeping elected officials informed on the activities of stewards within their community,” states Eric Bonham.

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ARTICLE: Parksville 2019 Symposium – Make Where We Live Better through Restorative Development (Asset Management BC Newsletter, February 2019)


“At Parksville 2019, delegates will learn how communities can apply science-based understanding to increase their restorative footprint and at the same time decrease their destructive footprint. Delegates will also learn about local government initiatives that are ‘getting it right’ and are moving along pathways that lead to restorative land development,” states Paul Chapman. “A decade of effort on Vancouver Island, by partnerships of local governments and community stewards, is demonstrating success on the ground where it matters.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY: “There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting priorities,” says Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists and water managers can help build a brighter future by rediscovering the meaning of water, and interweaving the predominant Western analytical models with the more intuitive indigenous models. Blue Ecology’s philosophy is meant to be the bridge between these two cultural ways of knowing. There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting priorities. Western science and Blue Ecology are truly partners. It is time the marriage was made official,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: Primer on the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) – A Methodology for Valuing the ‘Water Balance Services’ Provided by Nature (released January 2019)


Marvin Kamenz coined the term “package of ecological services” to describe the many advantages the Town of Comox expects to receive from a creekshed now and in the future. “The Ecological Accounting Process focuses on the worth of ecological services to residents, rather than their imputed value. Thus, worth deals with real numbers which local governments need to deliver outcomes. Looking through the ‘worth lens’ proved transformational in the Town of Comox,” stated Marvin Kamenz.

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