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Convening for Action in Lower Mainland

RESILIENCY PLANNING DURING A PANDEMIC: “Information technology (IT) finally proved its worth, as the transition to working from home instead of the office was almost seamless, albeit with limitations,” stated CAO Emanuel Machado, when describing the Town of Gibsons response to the life-altering and ongoing COVID-19 emergency situation


“In our resiliency framework, Emergency Planning is identified as an area of focus and includes recommendations to update programs to support neighbourhood preparedness to deal with natural or human-induced disasters. We had barely identified that as an action, and here we are dealing with an extremely serious situation, affecting everything and everyone we know. I wanted to share some thoughts about what I have observed in terms of our local government’s response to this situation,” stated Emanuel Machado.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Vancouver GreenLink Conference provided a high-profile platform for showcasing “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” and rolling out “Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia” (October 2010)


GreenLink 2010 attracted an international audience and “linked” the best of the best in Sustainable Communities, Finance, Technology and Government. “It was a real pleasure to take part in the Smarter Water Management panel and in particular to hear about the far-sighted and imaginative approach that the BC Government is taking to identifying, managing and educating people about the province’s water management issues. I am sure that this approach will provide lessons for other areas that seek to address their water management needs,” stated moderator Peter Williams.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “By living water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced,” stated Lynn Kriwoken, Ministry of Environment (October 2010)


Living Water Smart comprises 45 commitments, which are grouped into five themes for building greener communities and adapting to a changing climate. “What do you imagine for water, both where you live and in your life? It is a tall order for water management in the 21st century, and how we get there? Living Water Smart outlines three key themes for realizing the vision. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “Living Water Smart is about getting the practitioners and the people on the ground to make changes in the way they develop land and use water,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Ministry of Agriculture, when he referenced Beyond the Guidebook 2010 and its theme about implementing a new culture for watershed protection (October 2010)


“The question that we ask, and it is a challenge, is this – what would you like this place to look like in 50 years? Once you have that vision of what it would look like, what steps will you take to get there? And you cannot make those steps 45 years from now. Those steps start today. Make the change today. The challenges we face and choices that we make today are going to impact us for a long time,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “The concept of respect for the land and a ‘design with nature’ approach to community design is in stark contrast to the ‘dominate and destroy’ mentality described by Ian McHarg when he published his call to action, Design With Nature, in the 1960s,” stated Kim Stephens (October 2010)


“Most people don’t understand ‘water’ because it is  abstract beyond what happens when they  turn  the  tap or flush the toilet, but light bulbs go on when we say we are actually talking about the ‘land ethic’. The critical message is that it is ‘land + water’, not water in a silo,” stated Kim Stephens. “A suburban reality is that no large-scale project proceeds until ‘water issues’, usually drainage, are resolved because water is at the heart of environmental impact. Battles are fought over water-related issues during the approval process, but once resolved, the water discussion is recorded as a deceptively small part of a project storyline.”

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LIONS GATE SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT, METRO VANCOUVER: “Community advocates focussed political attention on the need to be visionary and dare to be bold in going beyond what is currently minimum standard of practice,” says Dr. Don Mavinic, a UBC engineering professor and world-renowned expert on wastewater treatment systems who has advocated for tertiary treatment


Motivated by a shared vision that “the future is here, NOW” for restoration of the aquatic environment in Burrard Inlet, three engineers with distinguished careers have been passionate and relentless in collaborating as an interdisciplinary team to convince the Metro Vancouver Regional District to re-think the treatment components for the new Lions Gate Treatment Plant. The decision to add tertiary treatment was announced in September 2019. “Now, there is no looking back…. ’elders power, combining mind and action’,” stated Don Mavinic.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION, PROTECTING BC HABITAT: “Annual workshops provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about topics of local interest and plan ways that they can make a difference,” states Glen Parker, North Shore Streamkeepers


“Throughout BC, there is an amazing network of volunteer groups working to protect riparian habitat, monitor salmonid health and support hatcheries to enhance local salmonid populations. Each group has stories to share about how their members participate as citizen scientists in efforts to support this iconic species,” states Glen Parker. “Other projects focus on education and awareness-building. About once a year we host a 1-day workshop for Streamkeepers and other related groups.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2011 & THE COURSE ON THE ISMP COURSE CORRECTION IN METRO VANCOUVER: “Many local governments were struggling with having ISMPs done in a fashion that is meaningful for their community – we hoped that the course would open minds and lead to application of new ideas,” stated Carrie Baron, Drainage & Environment Manager, City of Surrey


Regulatory requirements mandated by the Minister of Environment in 2011 provided a driver for implementing a ‘course correction in the way ISMPs are developed in Metro Vancouver. The 2-day pilot conducted in November 2011 provided peer-based learning on how to develop ISMPs that connect the dots between land use planning, watershed health and infrastructure asset management. “The course was designed to assist local governments and consultants delivering the ISMPs to understand options available,” stated Carrie Baron.

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Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee, provided the Partnership for Water Sustainability with a platform to report out regularly about the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative


The IREI is a major undertaking by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, and the support of Mayor Darrell Mussatto over the past decade ranks as a key ingredient in the success of the IREI program. The process of reporting out regularly to the Utilities Committee raised the profile of the IREI program, lending credibility to this over-arching educational goal: Build capacity within local government to implement a whole-system, water balance approach.

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CREATING THE FUTURE IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY: “Green Infrastructure Innovation in Langley Township – ‘Design with Nature’ to Create Liveable Neighbourhoods” – Watershed Case Profile released by Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (October 2017)


The stewardship ethic for creating liveable neighbourhoods in Langley is shaped by ‘cathedral thinking’ and a shared commitment by elected representatives, staff and community to long-term implementation. “There are many staff members that have made this happen,” stated Mayor Jack Froese. “Council makes policy and we approve policies. And then it is our wonderful staff that carry out the policies.”

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