CONVENING FOR ACTION AT THE 2024 BC LAND SUMMIT: “The Partnership hopes that the summit will prove to be a seminal moment in sparking an attitude change about land and water. Time will tell,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability (May 2024)

Note to Reader:

Held every five years as a 3-day event, the BC Land Summit is a watershed moment for showcasing new ideas. The audience is comprised largely of players involved in some form of land-related profession, that is: land appraisal, real estate, land planning, agrology, landscape architecture.

In 2024, the Partnership for Water Sustainability delivered two 90-minute interactive sessions under the banner Caring for the Land Means Going Beyond Just Doing Enough. These sessions were cascading and integrated. A desired outcome is that they would spark innovation and collaboration, by providing valuable insights about the use and conservation of land and water.


In the first session, Richard Boase and Paul Chapman tag-teamed to explain what Michael Blackstock’s Blue Ecology vision for an attitude change looks like through a local government lens. They provided on-the-ground examples at the parcel scale. 

In the second session, Tim Pringle tag-teamed with Anna Lawrence and Sam Gerrand to tell the story of Year One of the 3-year transition strategy to embed EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, at Vancouver Island University.


Caring for the Land Means Going Beyond Just Doing Enough

“The conference registration totaled an impressive 750 people, with 645 attending in person and the balance participating remotely. The room was at capacity for each of the Partnership sessions,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability.

“This indicates that close to one-quarter (~25%) of those in the building attended either one of the two sessions and thus heard the caring for the land message. Viewed in context, this turnout is remarkable considering that there were 10 and 8 parallel sessions, respectively, for participants to choose from.”



An overall impression of the two sessions

“Richard Boase and Paul Chapman were extremely effective in engaging the full-room audience in the Partnership’s first session before the lunch break,” observed Tim Pringle when he reflected on the day. “And they set the scene for my session with Anna Lawrence which followed after the break.”

“By relating Blue Ecology concepts to practical realities in the local government context, they presented Blue Ecology as a philosophical and useable approach to restoration. The lively question period showed that the audience had considerable interest in the Blue Ecology content.”

“Although Richard and Paul made strong reference to the EAP presentation in the afternoon, only a handful of people in the afternoon audience indicated by a show of hands that they had also attended the Blue Ecology session.  So, my take away is that for the most part Blue Ecology and EAP are not yet connected in the minds of the audience who attended the two sessions. But that is okay. It will take more than one session for a new idea to take root.”


Richard Boase on the left and Paul Chapman on the right


“The EAP session also had a full-room audience in the second session after the lunch break. The audience was engaged…people were paying attention…the questions kept coming. All together, the nature of the questions confirmed our presumption that the audience was not familiar with the foundational ideas underpinning EAP concepts. Thus, we achieved our objective by introducing EAP concepts to a new audience.”



Blue Ecology, compass for a water-first approach

“Blue Ecology describes a whole-system approach to caring for stream corridors and ecological assets. The Blue Ecology compass points the way forward and to success. The unifying principle for the session is the need for a change in attitude so that we appreciate and respect the land in everything that we do, because actions on the land have consequences for water. We can heal the land over time by making decisions that are always restorative and cumulative such that we restore altered landscapes,” explained Kim Stephens.



How can Blue Ecology help?

“In my presentation on Blue Ecology with Richard Boase, I offered examples of stewardship knowledge transfer and community involvement from the western tradition at the local level. These aspects of western water stewardship practice have proven to need regular renewal as champions move on from active participation,” stated Paul Chapman, Executive Director of the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT), when he provided his post-summit reflections.

“We repeatedly cover old ground as new champions are identified and we set ourselves to rebuilding a culture of stewardship within a local government or community. Western traditions and practice could be strengthened by following the path of enduring stewardship stories and community build-in of stewardship plans and actions.”

“The City of Nanaimo has changed from the practice of No Net Loss in consideration of development within riparian and other environmentally sensitive areas, to the principle of Net Gain. This change requires that if there must be disturbance of a riparian area due to development, then there must be restoration of functional habitat at twice the area of the disturbance.”


“This moves from a policy that cemented the losses of s shifting baseline (No Net Loss), to requiring restorative development (Net Gain). Storm Cunningham, the American thought leader who coined the term restorative development, states “what we restore, restores us.” This is the gateway to lasting community agency in water stewardship.”

“The Nanaimo & Area Land Trust’s School Water Stewards program works to connect elementary school students to their watersheds and participate in stream and wetland stewardship. Enduring water stewardship connects watershed health to community wellbeing,” concluded Paul Chapman.

To Learn More:

Download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Richard Boase and Paul Chapman titled Blue Ecology: A Compass for a Water First Approach.


EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process: A Dollars and Sense Method to Protect Stream Systems

“Streams are ecological systems. Human settlement imposes changes in the landscape and alters the hydrological and ecological capacity of streams. EAP provides metrics and measures to understand and value stream systems in the local government context,” explained Kim Stephens.

“The metrics calculate the financial value of the stream area, as defined in the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation, and provide a financial and social case to reduce the Riparian Deficit.”

“A  quote by Michael Blackstock was the source of inspiration for the title of the EAP session. Also, it was Paul Chapman who coined the phrase that EAP is an  expression of Blue Ecology.” 

“It is also noteworthy that the Land Summit is the event of record for announcing that henceforth Vancouver Island University will be known as the home for the EAP centre of excellence“.


Anna Lawrence and Tim Pringle (Sam Gerrand participated via a pre-recorded video)

EAP and the passing of the intergenerational baton

“Tim and my session at the BC Land Summit included a presentation kindly pre-recorded by Sam Gerrand about incorporating EAP into his Master’s thesis,” stated Anna Lawrence, EAP Program Coordinator at Vancouver Island University.

“Our session began with Tim detailing EAP and its nine demonstration applications in local governments in BC. I then spoke about Year 1 of the three-year transition strategy to transfer the knowledge and methodology of EAP from PWSBC to the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute and Vancouver Island University.”

“Tim and I answered questions from engaged audience members before we closed off the session with Sam’s video. The questions conveyed valuable input and insights from the bright minds of the attendees and enriched my understanding of the numerous perspectives at play.”

“The EAP transition strategy partnership has long been referred to as a “passing of an intergenerational baton”, and the Land Summit further emphasized the value of community perspectives and support in this process. This opportunity for collaboration of knowledge and ideas offered insight into pathways to collectively move towards an emphasis on the health of natural assets in land use planning.”

To Learn More:

Download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Tim Pringle and Anna Lawrence titled EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process: A Dollars and Sense Method to Protect Stream Systems.



Watch the video of Sam Gerrand’s engaging presentation

“Sam’s video presentation covered some challenging ideas that I suspect went over the heads of most of the audience. However, his presentation was clear about opportunities to increase the effectiveness of EAP as metrics and measures that local government can use to protect streams,” commented Tim Pringle. He was one of Sam’s thesis advisors.

“Also important was the fact that Sam tested the accuracy of the EAP analysis (at least for residential parcel sample areas) and found EAP to be very dependable. I support Sam’s conclusions that EAP is an important assessment or analytical tool as well as, potentially, a predictive measure based on land use intensity.”


Richard Boase presenting