Integrated Watershed Management: “Develop approaches which balance idealism with pragmatism,” says Peter Steblin, Coquitlam City Manager


Note to Reader:

The Coquitlam story is the second in a series of Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability. The purpose of the series is to inform and facilitate inter-regional collaboration in the Georgia Basin. By telling the stories of those who are spearheading changes in practice, this helps other local governments eliminate the “disconnect between information and implementation” that may otherwise hold them back.

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From Awareness to Action in the City of Coquitlam

“Experience shows that bridging the gap between awareness and action in local government requires that three critical success factors be in alignment: organizational/political commitment; internal champions who provide energy and 05_Kim-Stephens_March-2013_120pleadership and stimulate willingness to change; and trust between individuals and departments,” observes Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“Over a long period of time, and in fact dating back to the mid-1990s, all three factors have been in play in the City of Coquitlam.”

Balance Idealism with Pragmatism

Peter-Steblin_Coquitlam CAO_120p“We have arrived at a good place, but the journey has not been easy. In fact, we had to work our way through some pretty contentious periods. We persevered, we adapted and we progressed,” reflects Peter Steblin, City Manager.

“We want other local governments to know about the good, the bad and the ugly of the Coquitlam story so that they may learn from our experience and know that it is okay to stumble.”

“A decade ago, the City’s approach to watershed-based community planning and rainwater management was quite idealistic. It was also prescriptive and impractical. As a result, the City could not implement what was proposed. This resulted in significant complaints from the development community which, in turn, culminated in Council-Staff conflict.”

“With the advantage of hindsight, we now have an appreciation of the extent to which this conflict has defined the journey. There was a dark period yet that is what makes the Coquitlam story authentic and helped us to develop approaches which balance idealism with pragmatism.”

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the Watershed Case Profile, click on Watershed Planning & Rainwater Management: Creating the Future in the City of Coquitlam.

To download the first in the series, click on Creating the Future in the District of North Vancouver: Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint.

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