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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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WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: Community-of-practice for ‘Convening for Action in British Columbia’ – “Having the waterbucket.ca website as a communication platform allows the Action Plan partners to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” stated Ray Fung (2006)


“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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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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FLASHBACK TO 1997: “Looking back, British Columbia’s Fish Protection Act was both a defining moment and a call to action. The consultation process led directly to the SmartStorm Forum Series. Guided by a vision for an ecosystem-based approach to land and water development, the series set in motion a chain of events. Their outcomes reverberated and have rippled through time,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (1st in a series / January 2021)


“I recall quite clearly that Erik Karlsen and Peter Law were sitting to our right as Bill Derry and I spoke impromptu to the ‘fish pictures’. It caught my attention how animated they were as they kept turning to each other during Bill and my presentation. When we finished, Erik was the first to speak. ‘At last,’ he said, ‘we have the science that explains the relationship between changes in land use and the consequences for stream health’. Little did I realize in the moment that my life was about to change. Nor did I realize how profoundly Erik Karlsen would influence my career direction,” recalled Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game,” stated Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, when she described why the FROM RAIN TO RESOURCE WORKSHOP was a call to action (Kelowna, November 2010)


“We spent the last half a century trying to control runoff with dikes, storm sewers, curbs and gutters. We can’t engineer away our problems fast enough, and have to look at other, lower impact solutions. The Okanagan is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of unmanaged stormwater and rainwater because all surface water flows into the lake system that runs along the bottom of the valley. This workshop highlighted the importance of rainwater management to climate change adaptation and showcased examples from other areas that could be applied to the Okanagan,” stated Anna Warwick Sears.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / SUMMARY REPORT ON COMOX VALLEY LEARNING LUNCH SEMINAR SERIES: “Create liveable communities AND protect stream health is the vision. To make it happen, a premise underpinning the series is that consistency in understanding of approaches and desired outcomes is best achieved by taking a professional development program into the places where local government practitioners work,” stated Kim Stephens, Water Sustainability Action Plan


“An action in Living Water Smart is that all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing the full range of stream benefits. To that end, the Comox Valley series was conducted as a cumulative process, from philosophy to tools, in order to advance a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The desired outcome is that local government and private sector practitioners will make green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health,” stated Kim Stephens.

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BUILD A VISION, CREATE A LEGACY: “In the final analysis, the objective may not be to restore all urban watersheds. Rather, achievable and affordable performance targets for improving individual watershed health will be set as part of a stakeholder visioning process,” wrote Erik Karlsen in a co-authored article (FreshOutlook Magazine, February 2002)


“Fundamental change in the scope of rainwater/stormwater planning, development standards, construction and operations will only happen if there is a broad understanding as to why the changes are needed, what they are, and how they can be practically implemented,” wrote Erik Karlsen. “Publicly-supported decision-makers will determine the timing and phasing of change. The ability of consumers and the development community to adapt will then set the pace of change. Success in one area will be transferred to others. The full benefits of these changes will be realized decades from now.”

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RECONNECT PEOPLE, LAND AND WATER IN ALTERED LANDSCAPES: “Together we keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. There is a track record to continue building upon.” – A Short History of The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (November 2020)


Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in February 2004. A true visionary, she immediately saw the value of the an advisory group to government at a time when BC was in transition after the 2001 election. Her advocacy within government got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan. It really is that simple.

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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next” (released November 2020)


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.

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BRITISH COLUMBIA’S PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY CELEBRATES 10-YEAR MILESTONE: “The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful,” wrote Kim Stephens, Executive Director (November 2020)


“The Partnership is the hub for a convening for action network. We keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. We judge progress by the distance travelled, not the distance remaining. We are optimistic about the future,” stated Kim Stephens. “In our Partnership programs, 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,” stated Kim Stephens,

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ARTICLE: Natural Assets as Ecological Systems and Services: What do you know or wonder about the EAP and MNAI missions? (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Fall 2020)


“The two initiatives are outcomes flowing from the tireless determination of two pioneers, EAP Chair Tim Pringle and MNAI Chair Emanuel Machado, to transform how local governments view ecological systems and the services they provide. Development of both MNAI and EAP began around 2015. Actually translating policy objectives into tangible outcomes requires that local governments have a methodology and metrics for valuing ecological assets and services in an asset management strategy,” wrote Kim Stephens.

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PLANNING FOR WATER RESILIENCY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “A longstanding goal of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is to find a balance between supporting those local governments who are leaders, while over time raising the bar to encourage the rest,” states Brian Bedford, A/Executive Director, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing


“The bar has been raised and no longer can a local government simply state in an application that they have a Water Conservation Plan endorsed by Council or Board resolution. Now, when a grant application is submitted, the Ministry asks for confirmation that an up-to-date plan has been approved by Council or Board resolution within the last 5 years. It is in the look ahead that one can foresee the opportunity for a local government to identify what role the BC Landscape Water Calculator could play in achieving water conservation targets and further reducing water use in the community,” states Brian Bedford.

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LEADING CHANGE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The Town of Gibson’s demonstrated commitment to achieving a shared vision regarding the role of natural assets in providing core municipal services is vitally important to the Partnership’s capability to carry out our mission” – Partnership for Water Sustainability recognizes Town as one its Champion Supporters in a presentation to Mayor and Council (September 2020)


“This award is really recognition of our staff, in particular our CAO, and the work that he and others have done in this very important area. The current Council was elected in 2018 and we are continually being educated in terms of natural assets and natural assets management. It is a true feather in the cap of the Town of Gibsons that we are getting recognition outside the community. At some point, I hope that (the Town’s accomplishments) will be recognized as strongly within the community. There is still work to be done in that area,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish.

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