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Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

2010 ANNUAL UBCM CONVENTION: “The philosophy behind the Water Sustainability Action Plan is quite simple: bring local and regional stakeholders together where there is a desire and energy to make some form of change,” stated Glen Brown when he provided a provincial perspective on a ‘top-down & bottom-up’ strategy for urban watershed restoration (September)


“As we move forward with the Action Plan, it is making sure that we provide the people on the ground with the tools and resources that they need to help support action at the local level. A top-down approach does not work. When a community shows interest or a desire to move something forward, that is when we mobilize. The Action Plan purpose is to engage, listen, understand and support the local interests in moving forward. That is where we have been successful,” stated Glen Brown.

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VANCOUVER GREENLINK 2010 CONFERENCE: “By living water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” stated Lynn Kriwoken, Ministry of Environment, at an international conference on sustainable communities, finance, technology and government (October)


Imagine was the theme for Lynn’s presentation.”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. The first one is doing business differently. By that we mean making changes to the way we regulate and value water; and the way we develop land and communities,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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STATE OF VANCOUVER ISLAND ECONOMIC SUMMIT: “Both the Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) initiative and the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance respect regional differences while working towards a common vision founded on the principles of respect and trust,” stated Eric Bonham when he established the context for a breakout session on ‘Water for Life and Livelihoods’ (October 2010)


“The CAVI initiative and the VIEA entity both have a regional focus within a broader framework of Vancouver Island. Both recognize that partnerships and collaboration are fundamental to success, consisting of a coalition of equals working across jurisdictional boundaries – a coalition that consists of the public and private sectors, and the community. Both understand the need to look at Vancouver as a whole,” stated Eric Bonham.

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BC HYDRO POWER SMART FORUM: “Create a shared vision of a future where we actually balance ecology and land development activities. Collaborate and align efforts to achieve the vision,” stated Ray Fung when he described the purpose of a regional team approach (October 2010)


“In BC we have attempted to change expectations and build practitioner capacity. The Action Plan is a combination of four different streams of effort, ranging from networking to development of web-based tools. To help local governments focus on how move from awareness to action, the Partnership has developed what we call the What / So What / Then What / Now What process. What we have found through experience is the need to provide neutral forums for people to come together. In a neutral forum we can advance a regional team approach,” stated Ray Fung.

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OKANANGAN ‘FROM RAIN TO RESOURCE WORKSHOP’: “The strategy for putting down topsoil to capture rainfall in the wet weather months is the same strategy for water conservation,” stated Ted van der Gulik when he described how to move from awareness to action and embrace a new culture as described in Beyond the Guidebook 2010 for achieving water sustainability (October 2010)


“One summer day, as I was on my way to a meeting, I was listening to a discussion on the radio about water conservation. The meeting that day was about rainwater management and the importance of putting water back into the ground for stream protection. It struck me that the same solution applies to water conservation and drought management. The topsoil that absorbs the water in the winter months is the same topsoil that retains water in the summertime so that we can irrigate less; and lawns and gardens would be healthier,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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COMOX VALLEY DEVELOPERS DIALOGUE: Organized under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, and hosted by the City of Courtenay, the regional ‘sharing and learning’ session initiated a conversation with the Comox Valley development community about collaboration, alignment and consistency (December 2010)


Designed as ‘bridging event’ between the 2009 and 2011 series of annual seminar programs organized under the umbrella of CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, “The format was excellent for ‘stirring the pot’ as it allowed for a variety of ideas, questions and comments to flow easily and freely. The non-formal setting made everyone comfortable in sharing comments, whether positive or negative,” stated Kip Keylock, representing the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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FLASHBACK TO 2005: “Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia provides a partnership umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives,” stated Kim Stephens, lead person responsible for program delivery, a year after Premier Gordon Campbell approved release of the Action Plan


“The goal is to influence choices and encourage action by individuals and organizations so that water resource stewardship will become an integral part of land use and daily living,” stated Kim Stephens. “The Province’s commitment to the Action Plan speaks for itself. Both the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Municipal Affairs have provided core funding over a multi-year period to sustain Action Plan efforts. In addition, and through participation in various inter-governmental partnerships, a number of Ministries have contributed substantial funding and in-kind support to help launch Action Plan elements.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: What was the genesis of the phrase ‘sustainable service delivery’ a decade ago? What was the process for mainstreaming the approach in British Columbia? How did it become an ‘actionable vision’ for local governments? As an outcome of the Worth Every Penny Workshop, Glen Brown synthesized four ideas into a single easy to remember phrase that became a game-changer!


The 20/80 Rule refers to the initial capital cost of municipal infrastructure being about 20% of the ultimate total cost, with the other 80% being an unfunded liability. This is a driver for doing business differently. “Tackling the unfunded infrastructure liability involves a life-cycle way of thinking about infrastructure needs and how to pay for those needs over time. This holistic approach is described as Sustainable Service Delivery. The link between infrastructure asset management and the protection of a community’s natural resources is an important piece in Sustainable Service Delivery,” stated Glen Brown.

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FLASHBACK TO 2011 AND THE VANCOUVER ISLAND ECONOMIC SUMMIT: “We have moved beyond continuing education solely for the purpose of professional development. We are exploring what implementation of regional policy means on the ground,” stated Glen Westendorp at a pre-summit forum about the unfunded infrastructure liability as a driver for sustainable service delivery


Comox Valley local governments are aligning efforts, building leadership capacity and striving for consistency. “The four Comox Valley local governments and the Comox Valley Land Trust are ‘convening for action’ around a water-centric approach to land development,” stated Glenn Westendorp. “All those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. The players include land use and infrastructure professionals.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia” – rollout of the second in the Beyond the Guidebook Series of guidance documents commenced with a presentation to elected representatives at Union of BC Municipalities Convention


“We will use this coming together of BC's local leaders to share and learn from each other's experiences, and gain ideas to move our own communities forward,” said Harry Nyce. “The spirit of collaboration and newfound bonds that we have fostered in 2010 are undeniably valuable. But without action, we cannot move our communities forward. This year’s Convention will offer an opportunity to…. take our goals, and forge them into tangible outcomes….and continue to build gold medal standard communities.”

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