Erik Karlsen





Genesis of Water-Centric Planning in British Columbia

Erik Karlsen has had a distinguished career of public service in British Columbia. He is a professional land use planner with over 40 years experience in advisory through management level positions in federal, provincial, regional and local levels of government. A former Director of Regional Growth Strategies in the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs, he later served five years (2005 through 2010) as Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission.

Since leaving government Erik Karlsen has been a member of advisory committees and taught at Royal Roads University in the Masters of Environment and Management Program. He has been awarded several awards of distinction for his contribution to sustainable development planning and management in BC and Canada.

He was a founding member of the original Water Sustainability Committee (WSC) of the BC Water & Waste Association.  In 2010, the WSC morphed into the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, a stand-alone society.

More About Erik Karlsen

“Over a period of many years, Erik Karlsen has provided his many colleagues with timely and invaluable inspiration. In particular, his contributions as a WSC member have helped to advance ‘the mission’ for achieving water sustainability in BC. This is being done by promoting implementation of a watershed / landscape-based approach to community planning and development,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Erik Karlsen was the principal author for a 2002 guidance document on the watershed/landscape-based approach. This was the genesis for what we have since branded as water-centric planning.”

“A decade ago, Erik Karlsen crafted a series of ‘think-pieces’ that shone the spotlight on what it means, really means, to convene for action and move from awareness to practice. The work he did in the area of leading and managing change is standing the test of time. We continue to use the language that he crafted to brand what we do – in particular, the CREATE A LEGACY frame of reference still resonates. Erik encouraged us to think in terms of influencing choices by individuals and organizations.

“Erik Karlsen’s natural ability is to assess a situation from both the short term and long term viewpoints – that is, he assesses the situation as it is and he develops a roadmap for going forward based upon realistic assumptions. In the early years, when we were the “Water Sustainability Committee”, he did so much to create the philosophical foundation for our approach to ‘convening for action’,” states Eric Bonham, a founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“His ability to think ‘outside the pipe’ and raise the bar regarding our aspirations has attracted creative ideas to the CAVI process on Vancouver Island.”