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Convening for Action in the Province of British Columbia

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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British Columbia loses a champion for the environment: Jim Walker (1942-2017), former Assistant Deputy, BC Ministry of Environment


Jim Walker was revered by colleagues in the provincial government and beyond for his efforts to preserve natural areas around B.C. In a newspaper opinion piece published in 2013, he bemoaned what he saw as a lack of exposure to nature for many. “If this early intimacy and connection with nature is absent, will people still have an appreciation of the natural world?” he wrote. “Probably not.” Jim Walker served in government for 28 years. He helped to develop and deliver a number of high-profile provincial initiatives.

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: Convening for Action to advance Smart Planning & Living Water Smart in British Columbia – the “Penticton Forum” showcased partnerships, collaboration, innovation and integration in three regions (Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island)


A distinguishing feature of the Penticton Forum was the audience interaction segment that was part of each module. “The Province’s Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives provide a framework and direction for convening for action in the Okanagan, on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver. Each regional initiative is developing a vision and road map for achieving settlement in balance with ecology,” stated Glen Brown.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Shared stewardship means shared responsibility and accountability for water at the most appropriate scale and capacity,” stated Zita Botelho, Ministry of Environment, when providing a provincial context at Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in the Cowichan Basin


“Water stewardship involves everyone. Government alone cannot provide all the solutions. Reaching our vision of safe, sustainable, and valued by all requires partnerships – both maintaining the ones we value, like the Water Sustainability Committee, as well as forging new,” stated Zita Bothelo.

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: Water Sustainability: from awareness to action in British Columbia – through partnerships, partnerships, partnerships! (article published in Environmental Science & Engineering magazine about a conference forum)


“Water is the piece that integrates everything that we care about. We are using the phrase water stewardship, not water management. Stewardship is about replacing self interest, dependency and control with service, responsibility and partnership,” stated Lynn Kriwoken. The Water Sustainability Action Plan comprises inter-connected program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to do things differently.

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