RESILIENCE + CHANGE: Session on “Tools, Resources & Funding for Local Governments” at UBCM Annual Convention updated British Columbia local government elected representatives about the ‘convening for action’ leadership role played by Partnership for Water Sustainability (Sept 2019)

Note to Reader:

At the 2019 Annual Convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the first day of the week-long event included a half-day session on Tools, Resources & Funding for Local Governments. Previously, sessions were held in 2013 and 2015. The room was at capacity, as registration totaled 280.

This popular session was a ‘market place’ style event, with representatives of organizations seated at tables and local government delegates moving throughout the room to meet with the organizations they are interested in. It was not a tradeshow. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia has participated in all three sessions.

Resilience + Change

The convention theme was ‘Resilience + Change’. Context was stated as follows:

“Big or small, rural or urban, our communities are experiencing change at an unprecedented rate. From climate change to economic pressures, local governments are on the front lines managing the local impact of complex issues.”

“Across the province local government leaders are working to alleviate chronic social stresses, to respond to more frequent shocks, and to anticipate and adapt to changing social and economic trends. The magnitude of the changes that our province and communities are facing extends beyond the capacity of any one group to address.”

“In an uncertain future, local leaders have a duty to learn from each other and from the past and to find new approaches to plan and thrive.”

Tools, Resources & Funding for Local Governments

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (the Partnership) is the hub for a ‘convening for action’ network in the local government setting, and is responsible for delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan program through partnerships and collaboration.

The Partnership plays a bridging role between provincial and local governments and between local governments and the stewardship sector. Partnership activities align with the mandates of three ministries: Environment & Climate Change: Agriculture; and Municipal Affairs.

Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, the Partnership collaborates with government and others to develop methodologies, tools and resources to support implementation of the Whole-System, Water Balance Approach to land use, infrastructure servicing and asset management.

The session was an opportunity for local government representatives from around British Columbia to meet with four members of the Partnership’s Leadership Team: President Ted van der Gulik, Vice-President Richard Boase, Executive Director Kim Stephens, and Director Mike Tanner (Chair, website).

“We estimate that the four of us had close to 100 conversations over 3 hours,” reports Richard Boase. “This particular event attracts politicians from the smaller communities. So there was broad representation from all parts of the province. These folks tend to be hands-on. One-on-one conversations was an effective way to inform them about the Partnership’s work. In  these discussions, the Partnership Leadership Team focussed on five theme areas (scroll down). Within the first hour, it was apparent that water supply is top of mind everywhere.”

Richard Boase (R)

Waterbucket E-News

“The Partnership has various mechanisms for strategically reaching out to audiences and disseminating findings – specifically, through our weekly e-Newsletters in combination with the website. The latter is a ‘go to’ destination for showcasing the stories of those who are leading   changes in practice in British Columbia,” explained Mike Tanner

“The weekly e-Newsletters reach an audience of ~2500 subscribers province-wide and beyond, including a majority of local elected representatives. To receive the free Waterbucket eNews, sign up at

“The Partnership produces downloadable resources that are readily accessible from We then publicize the relevance and availability of such resources through our e-Newsletters.”

Ted van der Gulik (L) explains how the Landscape Calculator works. On the right, Kim Stephens chats with Walter Popoff, Regional District of Central Kootenay, about watershed governance.

Georgia Basin IREI: A Unique Mechanism for Inter-Governmental Collaboration and Learning

“The Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) facilitates sharing of outcomes and cross-pollinating of experience among local governments on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver,” stated Kim Stephens.

“The IREI builds on a large body of collaborative work undertaken over decades. The program focus is Sustainable Creekshed Systems, through Asset Management; and the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) is a program pillar.

“The Vision: Improved implementation of land regulation would achieve greater stream protection.”

Kim Stephens (L) and Councillor Michael Baxter, City of Colwood

Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate

“The Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate provides a neutral forum for local elected representatives, local government staff, and stewardship groups to convene for action,” continues Kim Stephens.

“The Symposia programs are built around success stories – inspirational in nature, creekshed in scale and precedent-setting in scope and outcome. In short, these precedents can be replicated and/or adapted in other communities.

“Collaboration is essential if communities are to: 1) mobilize and respond effectively to the climate emergency; 2) reconnect hydrology and ecology; and 3) demonstrate that restorative land development is attainable.”

A B.C. Strategy for  Community Investment in the Natural Commons

“Local governments need real numbers for maintenance and management of (M&M) ecological services in the ‘natural commons’ (streams, riparian zones, hydrology of a drainage area), “states Richard Boase.

“EAP, the, provides metrics that enable communities to appreciate the ‘worth’ of natural assets and their ecological services. The EAP methodology uses BC Assessment data to assign a dollar value to the natural commons and establish M&M budgets.”

Ted van der Gulik (R) informs a Councillor about the work of the Partnership

Landscape Calculator

Ted van der Gulik was kept busy doing demonstrations of the Landscape Water Calculator, the Partnership’s newest online tool. “It is impressive when he zooms in and shows people where they live,” notes Richard Boase.

Ted would start a conversation by posing these questions: “Have you ever thought of changing your landscape to more efficient plants in order to save water?  How about adding additional topsoil or converting to an efficient irrigation system?”

“The calculator allows a user to develop a number of hydrozones for the property, and the calculator will determine annual water use for each hydrozone and total them.  This value can then be compared to an appropriate annual demand for the property calculated by using a 10-year average of climate data.

“The calculator can also compare three different hydrozone scenarios to determine the most efficient layout. To try out the calculator, visit:

To Learn More:

Download the Directory of Participating Organizations.