Pathway to Water Sustainability in British Columbia: Partnerships, Collaboration, Innovation and Integration


‘The Future of Canada’s Infrastructure 2009’ featured BC’s Water Sustainability Action Plan

n June 2009, The Future of Canada’s Infrastructure 2009 was held in Toronto, Ontario. “This was the 6th in a series of annual events designed to help municipalities, provinces and the federal government to develop sustainable infrastructure plans through effective infrastructure management,” stated Karl Scharnitzky, the moderator for this 2-day session.

“These annual events bring peers together to share information, challenges and successes; and are intended to give all regions of Canada a clearer vision on how to reach long-term infrastructure sustainability.”

The 2009 event included speakers from Scotland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Michigan and Oregon. Kim Stephens was invited to tell the story of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. He is the Program Coordinator for the Action Plan.

We are Aligning Local Actions with Provincial Goals

“The organizers of The Future of Canada’s Infrastructure had heard about what we are doing in British Columbia; and so they asked me to tell the BC story in Toronto to a mainly Ontario audience,” explains Kim Stephens. “This event provided a timely opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved in BC since 2004, and identify universal principles that should be applicable anywhere.”Kim stephens (120p)

“One of my key messages was that the Action Plan provides neutral forums for bringing people together. Another key message was that the Action Plan is a partnership vehicle that aligns on-the-ground actions with provincial goals.”

Sharing the BC Experience Beyond Our Borders

“In addition to describing what we are doing in BC, I also talked about how we are sharing our BC experience related to partnerships, on-the-ground action, and web-based tools. We are doing this through participation in national groups such as the National Round Table on Sustainable Infrastructure, the National Asset Management Working Group, the CSA Municipal Solutions Program, and the Inter-Provincial Partnership for the Water Balance Model.”

“It was interesting to see what aspects of our BC story resonated with the audience; in particular, a number of the speakers who followed me were intrigued by our BC emphasis on conversations as contrasted with ‘talking at’ an audience. We have learned through experience that to build trust and respect, it starts with a conversation. If one listens to the other person, the conversation will lead to a dialogue, which in turn will lead to consensus on how to move forward on an issue.”

Taking Stock to Develop a Storyline

“From a British Columbia perspective, the value of telling our story in Ontario is that it provided the impetus for us to take stock and develop a PowerPoint storyline that we can now use as a communication tool within BC. All the essential elements of the Water Sustainability Action experience are captured in the storyline,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the presentation by Kim Stephens, click on The Pathway to Water Sustainability in British Columbia: Partnerships, Collaboration, Innovation and Integration.