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Convening for Action in the Province of British Columbia

IMPROVING WHERE WE LIVE: Maybe we are not doomed after all. We have the brains. Do we have the will?


In 1995, acclaimed marine biologist Daniel Pauly coined the term “shifting baselines” to describe a phenomenon of lowered expectations. This is a foundation piece for implementing restorative development, reconnecting hydrology and ecology, and bending the curve to restore stream systems. Accepted ‘standards of practice’ – especially those for engineering, planning and finance – influence the form and function of the Built Environment. The goal of shifting to an ecologically functioning and resilient baseline and creating a creekshed legacy will ultimately depend on the nature of change to standards of practice.

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HOW WILL BRITISH COLUMBIA ADAPT TO FIRE WEATHER: “Hope is active leadership. The Indigenous rooted theory of Blue Ecology, or a water-first approach to understanding and dealing with climate change, is a well-spring of hope,” states Michael Blackstock, author


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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2019 SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP CONGRESS IN VANCOUVER: “Implementing sustainable solutions demands leaders who are more emotionally aware and open to learn from those on the leading-edge paving the way,” says Connie Linder, Founder and CEO of Intengine and the Global Change Foundation


“The Intengine Global Change Foundation is making sustainability as a lifestyle and strategy more accessible by providing funding, access, tools and education for sustainability advocates and leaders so they can expand their knowledge and bring this awareness into their profession – whatever that may be,” stated Connie Linder. “Our vision for the future is one that we all likely share, in which economic prosperity needn’t come at the cost of irreplaceable natural resources or violated human rights.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY: “There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting priorities,” says Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists and water managers can help build a brighter future by rediscovering the meaning of water, and interweaving the predominant Western analytical models with the more intuitive indigenous models. Blue Ecology’s philosophy is meant to be the bridge between these two cultural ways of knowing. There is hope for future generations if we take a water-first approach to setting priorities. Western science and Blue Ecology are truly partners. It is time the marriage was made official,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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Professional Reliance in British Columbia: Trickle-Down Consequences in the Local Government Sector


High profile consequences of the “professional reliance model” have been well-publicized in the natural resource management sector. Not as well-understood are the consequences in the local government sector. “80% of the revitalizing work done by urban planners and civil engineers in the 21st century will undo 80% of the work their predecessors did to cities and nature in the 20th century,” foreshadows Storm Cunningham, author of the Restoration Economy, and global thought leader. “We don’t fully understand complex systems, so humility and adaptive management are needed to restore nature, and to revitalize cities.”

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Professional Governance Act (Bill 49-2018) introduced in British Columbia to make sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations


Bill 49 follows a public engagement process to review the Professional Reliance model of decision-making and an independent report and recommendations by noted environmental lawyer Mark Haddock. “These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “They will also give greater certainty to industry and qualified professionals. I am encouraged that government has acted quickly to implement these key recommendations from Mark Haddock’s report and I am hopeful that we will also see action on his other recommendations.”

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Professional Reliance Model – decreased public confidence prompts action in British Columbia


“One major aspect of the review was to examine professional governance issues in the natural resource sector, involving the regulation by professional associations of agrologists, biologists, engineers, geoscientists, foresters and applied science technicians and technologists,” stated Mark Haddock.”My review also examined natural resource regulations and how they incorporate and rely on professionals external to government, who are usually employees or consultants to those carrying out resource development activities or activities that are regulated because they affect the environment.”

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Local governments are implementers. This means they can be change leaders.


“They can integrate climate adaptation into the activities and actions of engineered and natural asset management – or flipping it around, integrate asset management into the activities and actions of climate adaptation. Getting it right starts with recognition that hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. But getting it right depends on provincial and local government alignment to require ‘design with nature’ standards of practice for servicing of land,” wrote Tim Pringle.

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Professional Reliance Model in British Columbia (June 2018): Review recommends restructuring the governance of the professional associations by creating new legislation and an independent Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight


The Province of British Columbia has received the final report on the independent professional reliance review, commissioned by government last fall (2017). ”We will immediately engage with the various professional associations covered in the report, with a goal of making tangible changes this fall to improve government oversight of qualified professionals to enhance public confidence in natural resource decision making,” stated George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

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OP-ED ARTICLE: B.C. needs to restore ‘adequate public oversight’ to protect the environment, says forester Anthony Britneff


“The Mount Polley disaster underscored that oversight was not happening. In fact, as the government relied increasingly on outside professionals, it gutted the ranks of public servants whose primary jobs were to ensure that outside professionals properly discharged their duties,” wrote Anthony Britneff. “It is no coincidence that the government recently introduced legislation on public-interest disclosure, commissioned a review of professional reliance and initiated a review of forest inventory and growth models.”

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