NANAIMO WATER SYMPOSIUM: Moving Towards Restorative Development through Collaboration – The Hard Work of Hope (April 11-12, 2018)

Note to Reader:

The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia – winters are wetter and warmer; summers are longer and drier. In short, the water cycle is out of balance. Adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we perceive watershed worth and service land.

The Nanaimo Water Symposium on April 11-12, 2018 is  about three initiatives in particular:  (1) the good things that flow from local government and stewardship sector collaboration; (2) the over-arching role played by the innovative and precedent-setting Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program in the Regional District of Nanaimo; and, (3) the first demonstration applications of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) to assess “watershed worth”.

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Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate:
Field Trip, Public Lecture & Symposium in Nanaimo

The symposium is an outreach and professional development event, held under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, and is designed to foster a conversation in the Nanaimo Region and beyond about “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.

To Learn More:

Visit the home page for the Symposium on the Vancouver Island community-of-interest:

Field Trip to Buttertubs Marsh and 5-Acres Farm

Join the City of Nanaimo and the Nature Trust of British Columbia on a tour of Buttertubs Marsh that will trace the history of this special place and the growing stewardship legacy developing here. Several projects and initiatives are currently underway, including a study on determining the financial value of the marsh as a community asset.

The five-acre farm located in Harewood is the last farm of BC’s first agricultural community plan, an historic and innovative plan unique to Nanaimo. Today, this farm supports many values that are important to Nanaimo: historical, agricultural-food security, creative employment and environmental values.


Public Lecture – “The Hard Work of Hope”

Renowned author and speaker Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair for Water & Climate Security at the United Nations University, will set the tone for the symposium.  At a public lecture on the evening of April 11, his inspirational message will be a call to action.

The Hard Work of Hope, the latest book by Bob Sandford and co-author Jon O’Riordan, seeks to develop effective solutions to the growing urgency for global action on climate change. It builds on events that have transpired since the Paris Agreement in December 2015.


“The 2030 Transforming Our World agenda raises the ceiling on sustainability. The agenda makes it very clear that sustainable development can no longer simply aim for environmentally neutral solutions.” states Bob Sandford.

“If we are to achieve any meaningful level of sustainability, all development has to be not only sustainable, but restorative. We can no longer simply aim to slow or stop damage to the Earth system; we have to restore declining Earth system function.

“We face so many overlapping and intersecting crises we can no longer afford to fix them one at a time or in isolation of one another.

“All future development must seek double, triple, if not quadruple benefits in terms of the restoration of fundamental Earth system function as reflected in biodiversity stability, efficient water use, soil vitality, carbon storage, and human and planetary health.”

Stewardship Context & Program Overview for Symposium on Day 2

Context is important. In the 1990s, the first streamkeeper groups were formed in British Columbia. They had an immediate impact. They galvanized government into action.

A landmark success story was the Urban Salmon Habitat Program. It forged relationships between local governments and stewardship groups. This helped to set in motion a provincial ‘whole-system, water balance’ journey that continues to this day.

“Fast forward to the present. Anecdotal evidence suggests a groundswell of heightened awareness of the watershed context for “the creek that flows through my backyard”. Awareness is translating into involvement and empowerment to make a difference,” observes Derek Richmond, a Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, and Past-Chair (2011-2016) of CAVI-Covening for Action on Vancouver Island.