Water Sustainability Action Plan convenes a workshop on “Water-Centric Planning in Oliver”




Start with a Conversation

During the first week of November 2005, Tim Pringle (Executive Director, Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia) and Kim Stephens )Program Coordinator, Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia) spent three days meeting informally with a diverse group of Okanagan residents.

“Our objective in conversing was to gain an on-the-ground understanding of how communities in the Okanagan view settlement, economic growth and water issues,” states Kim Stephens. “What we heard and learned is documented in Convening for Action in the South Okanagan: Moving Towards a Water Balance Way-of-Thinking and Acting, released in February 2006.” 

“These conversations provided us with the inspiration to create what we branded as the beneficial balance graphic. Our intent was that this would help Okanagan communities visualize how to address challenging priorities for land and water. The three circles represent core concepts emerging from the discussion of settlement, economic growth and water supply pressures. We define the intersection of these circles as the beneficial balance.”



Convening for Action in Oliver

The first round of conversations created the momentum for additional conversations with an expanding group about a ‘water-centric’ approach to planning. During the period November 2005 through February 2006, these additional conversations led to a decision by the Town of Oliver and the Oliver & District Community Economic Development Society (ODCEDS) to co-host a water-centric working session on March 30, 2006.

“The Oliver Water-Centric Working Session was community-based and was informed by outside expertise and provincial program people. We developed a ‘mind map’ that laid out a framework for everyone’s interests and it moved from the general to the specific – that is, the bottomline is that this session was about the Town of Oliver and it would be their plan,” explains Kim Stephens.


To Learn More:

To donwload the ‘mind map’ and detailed agenda that guided the brainstorming, click on Agenda for Oliver Water-Centric Working Session.


Connecting the Dots

“The decision to focus on the Town was a logical one because the Oliver region is the focal point for a Smart Growth on the Ground community planning initiative; as well, numerous provincial and federal agencies are concentrating their program efforts in the South Okanagan”, reports Stephens, “There is a myriad of water and related initiatives underway in the Okanagan. Thus, a goal of the Convening for Action program is to ‘connect the dots’ and thereby help bring these initiatives into alignment…so that they can meet the water-centric needs of Okanagan communities.”



Context Presentations

To guide each discussion topic, a context presentation established a working theme. The emphasis was on a conversational approach that engaged participants, encouraged roundtable brainstorming, and contrasted with an approach that too-often “presents at” participants. To download the presentations, click on the links below:

It was crucial that three elected officials were among the participants – at the end of the day, they are the ones who have the authority to act in the best interests of their constituents by making water-centric policy decisions.


How the Water Councillors Viewed the Day

“I was quite pleased with the working session. It changed my perspective regarding water, and it changed how I will develop my vineyard next year”, commented Andre Miller, one of two Water Councillors for the Oliver rural area.

“Yes, I too got a lot out of the day”, added Rick Machial, also a Water Councillor, “What you have done in this session is the way to get information to politicians so that we understand the issues and what needs to be done on the ground, and what we need to do to make things happen. It is pretty clear to me to me that we have to communicate the conservation message.”