PENTICTON FORUM STORY #6: Town Hall Sharing: How Will Embracing the Living Water Smart Vision Help Your Community Do Business Differently?
Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers at the Penticton Forum – Teamwork for a WaterSmart World
The Penticton Forum will be held at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre as an adjunct to the 2009 Annual Conference of the BC Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) on April 29.
- This is the sixth and last in a series of weekly stories that progressively connect the dots and foreshadow what participants can expect on April 29.
- To download a report-style, PDF version of the following web story about the Penticton Forum, click on Town Hall Sharing: How Will Embracing the Living Water Smart Vision Help Your Community Do Business Differently?
- For a preview of the Agenda, click on Lesson Plan – Draft Outline of What We Want to Achieve
- The Forum will be of educational value to elected representatives. It is especially relevant to municipal administrators, municipal engineers, and municipal planners; water resource and land use planners; and water conservation, green infrastructure and drainage practitioners. The Forum will also be of value to those in the conservation and stewardship sector.
- The meet-and-greet is at 8:00am. The morning session commences at 8:30am; the afternoon session ends at 4:15pm. Lunch will be provided.
For information on how to register, go to www.bcwwa.org or contact the BCWWA office at 604-433- 4389
Convening for Action in BC
How do we align our efforts at three scales – provincial, regional and local – to do business differently, prepare communities for change, and choose to be water smart?
“The Province’s Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives provide a framework and direction for convening for action in the Okanagan, on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver,” states Glen Brown. He is an Executive Director with the Ministry of Community Development; and is Chair of the Water Sustainability Committee. “Each regional initiative is developing a vision and road map for doing business differently in order to change the way that land is developed and water is used.”
These three regional initiatives will be showcased at the Penticton Forum on April 29. The Forum is an adjunct to the annual conference of the BC Water & Waste Association (BCWWA); and is co-hosted by three provincial Ministries (Environment, Community Development, and Agriculture & Lands), the Okanagan Basin Water Board, and the BCWWA Water Sustainability Committee.
1. Forum Program – An Overview
“This is the sixth and last in a series of stories leading up to the Penticton Forum on April 29,” explains Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. “These stories connect the dots so that participants will know what to expect when they convene for action in Penticton.”
“This Story #6 foreshadows how we will facilitate audience interaction through town hall sharing sessions. ,In particular, participants are encouraged to reflect on current actions that fulfil the spirit of the Living Water Smart vision. We also wish to continue our conversation about mechanisms to build commitment and motivate British Columbians to want change.”
“Our vision is that the Penticton Forum will be a transformational event that inspires people to do better. We are showcasing how partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration are helping local governments in three regions make the best choices for living water smart,” states Glen Brown.
The forum program has four modules built around approaches and tools for achieving truly green development. While each module is stand-alone, they are also linked.
2. Vision for Living Water Smart
Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan is a visionary document that provides a framework for province-wide action. The Province is encouraging local governments to do business differently, prepare communities for change, and choose to be water smart.
To Get to the Big Picture
“By living water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” states Lynn Kriwoken, Director, Innovation and Planning in the Water Stewardship Division of the Ministry of Environment, and the Province’s lead person for delivery of Living Water Smart.
“To get to the big picture, it starts with the smallest pieces. Thus, the ultimate goal of the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives is to establish expectations that, in turn, will influence the form and function of the built environment,” adds Kim Stephens. “BCWWA is responding to the Province’s call to action by leading, informing, educating and inspiring water practitioners about how to create the change needed.”
“Living Water Smart comprises 45 commitments, which are grouped into five themes,” reports Lynn Kriwoken.
“I applaud and welcome the BCWWA’s leadership in playing a key delivery role in two of the five theme areas, namely: community planning and development (#5); and efficiency, outreach, public awareness (#2),” concludes Lynn Kriwoken.
“The Penticton Forum combines these two implementation themes, with the emphasis on community development because it encompasses how land is developed (or redeveloped) and water is used,” adds Kim Stephens.
“The Penticton Forum will focus attention on the question of how communities will achieve performance targets identified in Living Water Smart.”
3. Alignment with Living Water Smart Vision
“Living Water Smart provides British Columbians with a vision of what this province can look like if we all work together,” states Daisy Foster, Chief Executive Officer of the BCWWA. “Experience shows that the challenge is in moving from planning (talk) to practice (action). This is the gap that the Convening for Action initiative is bridging through an inclusive and collaborative process that brings people together for the common good.”
Build a Vision, Create a Legacy
“It is one thing to have a vision; it is another to do what needs to be done to create a lasting legacy. It requires sustained commitment to make things happen. BCWWA views the Penticton Forum as providing a vehicle for promoting commitment to bringing the Living Water Smart vision to fruition.”
“The Penticton Forum will start a dialogue about what a formal mechanism for aligning with and committing to Living Water Smart might look like; and what role BCWWA will play in collaborating with local governments and local government stakeholders so that our leadership creates a legacy,” concludes Daisy Foster.
Accelerating the Current Momentum
According to Daisy Foster, BCWWA can add value to Living Water Smart delivery by accelerating action with a particular focus on:
- By 2012, 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 stream health and the full range of stream benefits (p 43 Living Water Smart)
- By 2020, overall water use in British Columbia will be 33% more efficient (p 53 Living Water Smart)
“In 2008, the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series addressed the first objective and successfully demonstrated how to inform, educate and inspire local government practitioners about making ‘green choices’ that create liveable communities and protect stream health,” reports Kim Stephens. “Building on the Vancouver Island experience, the Penticton Forum will kick-off a process led by BCWWA that will get people thinking about how to make real the 2020 objective of 33% more efficient water use.”
4. Town Hall Sharing Sessions
“A distinguishing feature of the Penticton Forum will be the audience interaction segment that is part of each module. We are characterizing them as Town Hall Sharing Sessions to underscore that we are going beyond question and answer segments,” states Ron Smith, Planning Officer with the Integrated Land Management Bureau, and a member of the Water Sustainability Committee.
Town Hall Mind-Map
According to Ron Smith, the Living Water Smart vision will be a unifying theme for the four town hall sharing sessions. He points out that each session is defined by a specific question that is designed to engage participants in a conversation that will evolve over the course of the day:
- Module A: What are the Issues in Your Community?
- Module B: What Does ‘Living Water Smart’ Now Mean to You?
- Module C: What is Your Green Infrastructure Story?
- Module D: What Will You Do Differently After Today?
“Each Town Hall segment will be preceded by context presentations that are intended to inform and stimulate,” observes Ron Smith. “The Forum emphasis is very much about on-the-ground application of new approaches and tools that will achieve Living Water Smart outcomes.”
“Coupled with the Living Water Smart vision is a way of doing business that is founded on shared responsibility. We are in the process of framing a Responsibility Matrix that will focus on linkages – that is, how people interact and collaborate to achieve community sustainability goals,” states Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership that developed the Water Balance Model for British Columbia.
“The first iteration of a Responsibility Matrix was an outcome of the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum, hosted by the City of Surrey in March 2009.”
Effecting Change on the Ground
“As we explained at the Surrey Forum, the purpose of a Responsibility Matrix is to effect change on the ground through the use of policy and legal tools, and approved standards. The underlying premise is that everyone will agree on expectations and how regulators, developers, designers, etc will work together; and after that each community can reach its goals in its own way. The Penticton Forum creates a further opportunity to explore what a Responsibility Matrix might mean in the context of the Living Water Smart vision,” notes Karen Rothe. She represents the Ministry of Community Development on the Green Infrastructure Partnership.
5. Aligning Local Actions with Provincial Goals
“The Penticton Forum program mirrors Living Water Smart in a number of ways,” notes Glen Brown. “For example, the opening and closing modules speak to the community development theme that is one of the five implementation buckets. Also, the Okanagan and Georgia Basin modules address the water use efficiency and stream health objectives that could form the focus of a Living Water Smart alignment and commitment mechanism.”
Metro Vancouver Example
“A key message going into the Penticton Forum relates to the desirability and importance of aligning local actions with provincial goals. Alignment leads to win-win outcomes for communities. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the Metro Vancouver Board recently voted to align its regional planning vision with Living Water Smart and the Green Communities initiatives,” continues Glen Brown.
“Metro Vancouver is realigning the goals, strategies and actions in its Liquid Waste Management Plan to keep current with provincial government policies and positions; as well as ensure that Metro Vancouver’s and the provincial government’s environmental and fiscal objectives and actions are mutually supportive and successful,” writes Fred Nenninger (Division Manager, Metro Vancouver Policy & Planning).
“From the Province’s perspective, it is gratifying that Metro Vancouver is identifying how its actions support Living Water Smart and Green Communities objectives in a number of areas. This bodes well for voluntary alignment and commitment to the Living Water Smart vision,” concludes Glen Brown.
Creating a Legacy
“Living Water Smart provides BC with a vision, a framework for action, and sets a clear direction for achieving specific objectives. The addition of a formal endorsement and alignment mechanism could accelerate the process to build commitment and establish consistent expectations for effecting change on the ground: This is what we want to achieve, and this is how we will get there,” summarizes Kim Stephens. “It could also help local governments engage on living water smart actions with their stakeholders.”
“Viewed in this context, the Penticton Forum is an important milestone in advancing a regional team approach that will align local actions with provincial goals. Much is already underway and being done by many players, including BCWWA. Yet we can do even more to add value as we align our collective efforts to bring the stream health and water efficiency objectives in Living Water Smart to fruition.”
“Our immediate priority at the Penticton Forum is to encourage ‘green choices’ that will ripple through time, and will be cumulative in creating liveable communities, reducing wasteful water use, and protecting stream health.