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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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TOWARDS RECONCILIATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the Blue Ecology Workshop mainstreamed Michael Blackstock’s vision for interweaving Indigenous knowledge & Western science (November 2017)


Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy developed by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar. Blue Ecology looks at the water cycle differently to interweave First Nations and Western thought. Michael Blackstock has a vision: British Columbia water managers would embrace the Blue Ecology water cycle; our communities would become more water-resilient; and we would successfully adapt to a changing climate. His innovative thinking is recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences.

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METRO VANCOUVER UTILITIES COMMITTEE: “The IREI provides Metro Vancouver municipalities with a mechanism to collaborate, share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience with local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island,” stated Kim Stephens when he updated Metro Vancouver elected representatives about successes flowing from the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (Sept 2018)


“Inter-governmental collaboration and funding enable the Partnership for Water Sustainability to develop approaches, tools and resources; as well as provide teaching, training and mentoring. We depend on the goodwill of elected representatives on committees such as Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee to provide political support for the unique bridging role that the Partnership plays in the local government setting. Their long-term support has contributed to the effectiveness of the Partnership as the hub for a ‘convening for action’ network,” stated Kim Stephens.

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Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee, provided the Partnership for Water Sustainability with a platform to report out regularly about the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative


The IREI is a major undertaking by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, and the support of Mayor Darrell Mussatto over the past decade ranks as a key ingredient in the success of the IREI program. The process of reporting out regularly to the Utilities Committee raised the profile of the IREI program, lending credibility to this over-arching educational goal: Build capacity within local government to implement a whole-system, water balance approach.

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PROGRAM AT A GLANCE for “Parksville 2019: Second Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate – Make Better Land Use Decisions & Move Towards Restorative Land Development” (April 2-3-4, 2019)


Parksville 2019 is designed to foster a conversation in communities along the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Metro Vancouver region about Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. “The daily symposium themes are Sustainable Stream Restoration and Restorative Land Development, respectively. An evening lecture by global thought leader Storm Cunningham is the bridge between the two days. Storm Cunningham will also close the symposium with an inspirational message,” stated Paul Chapman.

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OP-ED ARTICLE: Province must halt the decline of its biodiversity – Waterway restoration key to helping British Columbia deal with climate change (published in the Vancouver Sun in September 2018)


“2018 is a teachable year. This past summer, if you wanted to know what climate change will mean to your future, all you had to do was be outside to see what is to come. The entire Northern Hemisphere was impacted by extreme weather – drought, forest fires or flooding,” stated Bob Sandford. “Prominent scientists say 2018 marks a turning point in human history. We may have crossed an invisible threshold into a new climate regime. But it is not the end of the world; just the beginning of another.”

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GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: “Too Small to Fail – How Communities Can Prepare for Bigger Storms” (Intact Centre, November 2018)


“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada, and we have seen insurance payouts average $1.8 billion over the past nine years, up from an average of $400 million just a decade prior,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “The lesson of this report rests with its focus on the utility of small-scale, local flood mitigation projects. Attention is often directed to large-scale initiatives that are deemed ‘too large to fail’, meaning that their collapse would cause catastrophic and irreparable damage.”

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JOIN US FOR A WATERSHED MOMENT: Parksville 2019 / Second Annual Vancouver Island Symposium / Water Stewardship / Restorative Development / April 2-3-4 (Announcement #1, November 2018)


The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed does matter to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Yes, communities can decrease their destructive footprint while increasing their restoration footprint. “A decade of effort on Vancouver Island, by partnerships of local governments and community stewards, is demonstrating success on the ground where it matters,” stated John Finnie. “Parksville 2019 will celebrate success stories are that characterized by three attributes: commitment, collaboration and the ‘hard work of hope’.”

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Professional Reliance in British Columbia: Trickle-Down Consequences in the Local Government Sector


High profile consequences of the “professional reliance model” have been well-publicized in the natural resource management sector. Not as well-understood are the consequences in the local government sector. “80% of the revitalizing work done by urban planners and civil engineers in the 21st century will undo 80% of the work their predecessors did to cities and nature in the 20th century,” foreshadows Storm Cunningham, author of the Restoration Economy, and global thought leader. “We don’t fully understand complex systems, so humility and adaptive management are needed to restore nature, and to revitalize cities.”

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Professional Governance Act (Bill 49-2018) introduced in British Columbia to make sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations


Bill 49 follows a public engagement process to review the Professional Reliance model of decision-making and an independent report and recommendations by noted environmental lawyer Mark Haddock. “These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “They will also give greater certainty to industry and qualified professionals. I am encouraged that government has acted quickly to implement these key recommendations from Mark Haddock’s report and I am hopeful that we will also see action on his other recommendations.”

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Professional Reliance Model – decreased public confidence prompts action in British Columbia


“One major aspect of the review was to examine professional governance issues in the natural resource sector, involving the regulation by professional associations of agrologists, biologists, engineers, geoscientists, foresters and applied science technicians and technologists,” stated Mark Haddock.”My review also examined natural resource regulations and how they incorporate and rely on professionals external to government, who are usually employees or consultants to those carrying out resource development activities or activities that are regulated because they affect the environment.”

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