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Convening for Action in British Columbia

What happens on the land matters. Apply ‘cathedral thinking’ – a far-reaching vision, a well thought-out blueprint, and a shared commitment to inter-generational implementation – to create a lasting water sustainability legacy. Convening for Action is a British Columbia process that is about moving from defining the problems (the ‘what’), to determining options (the ‘so what’), to taking action to achieve results (the ‘now what’), and after that, to replicating in other communities (the ‘then what’).

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: Community-of-practice for ‘Convening for Action in British Columbia’ – “Having the waterbucket.ca website as a communication platform allows the Action Plan partners to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” stated Ray Fung (2006)


“Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to ‘tell our story’ and ‘record our history’ as a work-in-progress,” states Ray Fung. “It will turn ideas into action by building capacity and understanding regarding integration of long-term, strategic planning and the implementation of physical infrastructure.”

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia – Our Story (March 2018)


“Future planners, engineers, scientists, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism, working as a team towards consensus, commitment and collaboration for the common good. Such collaboration is essential and must cross all political and community boundaries given that climate change is no respecter of such creations. The Partnership has accepted this challenge and its implementation,” stated Eric Bonham.

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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!,” wrote Ian McHarg.

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Embedding a Sustainable Service Delivery Culture within Local Governments (October 2022)


“In 2013, when I made my first presentation about asset management at a CAO forum, I observed mostly blank stares. And when I engaged in conversations afterwards, I heard comments to the effect that asset management sounds interesting but that is not what we do, and we are not interested in that. A decade later, the awareness has clearly changed quite a bit. But from what I have seen, a majority of CAOs still have not bought in and are not necessarily interested. Some talk the talk but do not necessarily walk the talk,” stated David Allen

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EMBEDDING A SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY CULTURE WITHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: “Wally Wells and David Allen are motivated by their shared desire to inspire implementation of organization-wide asset management. They view this outcome as a foundational element of local government in British Columbia,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“The news from Asset Management BC is that Wally Wells has passed the Executive Director baton to David Allen to continue the ‘sustainable service delivery’ mission. This duo will continue their collaboration for the foreseeable future as Asset Management BC builds on the foundation now in place after a decade of hard work and a team effort. With the passing of the baton from Wally to David, having a facilitated conversation provided each with a timely “moment for reflection” on where Asset Management BC has come from and where it is going,” stated Kim Stephens.

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Perspectives on reconciling the disconnect between short-term and long-term thinking” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in September 2022


At an international business conference in 2015, Eva Kras built on brain research findings by Ian Gilchrist, renowned psychiatrist and thinker. He defined the two types of thinking processes. She created an intellectual bridge between his research and the potential for its application in the world of business. “Research by Ian Gilchrist demonstrates that we need to re-learn basically ‘how we think’, using both hemispheres, to switch things around to achieve a viable balance between the two types of thought processes,” said Eva Kras.

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Communities in Balance with Water – Create a Vision, Build a Legacy” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in September 2022


Every generation is handed a world that has been shaped by their predecessors – and then seemingly forgets that fact. In a short-but-influential paper published in 1995, legendary UBC fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly argued that this blind spot meant scientists were failing to account fully for the slow creep of disappearing species. Daniel Pauly coined this effect as the Shifting Baseline Syndrome. “You can have a succession of changes. At the end you want to sustain miserable leftovers. And the question is, why do people accept this? Well, because they don’t know that it was different,” he observed.

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ARTICLE: “How much should local governments spend each year to reduce the Riparian Deficit?” (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Summer 2022)


If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading? Why do we still see practices that exacerbate the situation? Why is understanding lacking? How do we change that? “I would especially draw your attention to the article. This is a groundbreaking article and one to be specifically noted. The more we get the Asset Management message out the better off we all are,” wrote Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC, in his email to newsletter readers.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “Township staff are working on a long-term Ecological Services Initiative program. The Ecological Accounting Process analysis will be used to establish the baseline funding for payment to farmers,” stated Melisa Gunn, Agricultural Planner with the Township of Langley in the Metro Vancouver region, when she explained the rationale for including Bertrand Creek in the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s EAP program


“To move the Ecological Services Initiative project forward, the Township of Langley was looking for a process that used real numbers to understand how to develop fair and equitable payments to farmers to enhance areas on their properties. Through the EAP work, the concept of ‘Riparian Deficit’ in the natural commons area highlights the shared responsibility of rural and urban landowners to maintain Bertrand Creek, an important asset in the Township. In the future, we can use EAP to expand the program to other watersheds,” stated Melisa Gunn.

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FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is remarkable in its simplicity and is pragmatic. EAP starts with an understanding of the parcel because that is how communities regulate and plan land use. It is the parcel level where you get the information that you need to change practice to protect natural assets,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, at the time of release of Beyond the Guidebook 2022


“The vision for EAP set the challenge: develop a practical methodology, one that would be relevant to local government managers and the community, for determining the monetary value of drainage infrastructure and other services drawn (or adapted) to some degree from ecosystems. Initially, we saw EAP as a tool – that is, the EA Protocol – that would help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure. However, the first demonstration applications revealed that the term EA Process more accurately describes the challenge of working with multiple intervenors,” stated Tim Pringle.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading?


The process is in motion to operationalize a transition strategy over a 3-year period and initially embed the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) program in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI). “We believe that incorporating students from Vancouver Island University and other universities will support understanding and experience within municipal governments on the importance of EAP, and simply understanding EAP. Fortunately, most of VIU’s Master of Community Planning, and Master GIS students find themselves working within municipal governments,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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ARTICLE: “The Ecological Accounting Process – A BC Collaborative Initiative” (Water Canada magazine, May-June 2022)


“I reached out to Kim Stephens of the Partnership for Water Sustainability BC with an invitation to share more about the people, policy, and projects in BC, through penning an article for Water Canada magazine and sharing of relevant information. I am very keen on showcasing real world water projects, and the people whose lives they impact, with our national audience. The Ecological Accounting Process is a topic the Water Canada audience would really benefit from and that is why we featured it in the May-June 2022 issue,” stated Jen Smith, magazine editor.

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Synthesis Report on Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems” (released June 2022)


“Now that we have landed on the Riparian Deficit concept, we are able to reflect on the two issues which provided context for the journey: first, engineering measures are insufficient for stream and riparian protection; and secondly, the link to municipal asset management has not been clear. To reach the destination, we had to address and show how to overcome four challenges: one, a lack of measurable metrics; two, confusion over what is an asset versus a service; three, ignorance about how to quantify the financial value of natural assets with real numbers; and four, numerous one-off projects that fail to build improved asset management practice,” stated Tim Pringle.

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