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Regional Events

CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley” – In December 2015, the Joint Staff Training Workshop organized by the Comox Valley Regional Team initiated an educational process for communicating ‘design with nature’ expectations in urban watersheds


“The Water-Wise Guide communicates consistent expectations for how the valley can mitigate environmental concerns,” stated Kris La Rose. “The Guide is a collaboration between all four local governments, MOTI, the stewardship sector and the private sector. It is designed to be visually engaging, easy to read, have front counter ‘branding’ consistent to all four local government planning counters, with tips for applicants on how to prepare successful plans that integrate watershed-based rainwater management strategies and minimize negative impacts on watersheds.”

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SHARING ‘DESIGN WITH NATURE’ APPROACHES, TOOLS, EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNED:“Like most other areas on Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley is at a major cross-roads as to how we will develop and still maintain the natural beauty of our community,” stated Mayor Starr Winchester when Comox Valley local governments co-hosted the finale event of ‘Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island: The 2007 Series’


“Local government leaders are telling our staffs that we want to be a sustainable community tomorrow. We are not being so unrealistic as to ask for this yesterday,” stated (former) City of Courtenay Mayor Starr Winchester. “We want to keep our rural areas rural, yet we are faced with many people coming into the valley, especially now that we have an international airport. We are experiencing phenomenal growth. So we are really depending on the practitioners to keep us grounded and realistic so that growth will be sustainable.”

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RESILIENCE + CHANGE: Session on “Tools, Resources & Funding for Local Governments” at UBCM Annual Convention updated British Columbia local government elected representatives about the ‘convening for action’ leadership role played by Partnership for Water Sustainability (Sept 2019)


Big or small, rural or urban, our communities are experiencing change at an unprecedented rate. From climate change to economic pressures, local governments are on the front lines managing the local impact of complex issues. In an uncertain future, local leaders have a duty to learn from each other and from the past and to find new approaches to plan and thrive. “One-on-one conversations with mayors and councillors from towns around BC was an effective way to inform them about the Partnership’s work,” stated Richard Boase.

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PARKSVILLE 2019: ‘Convening for Action’ symposium started strong with Dave Derrick stream restoration workshop and walkabout, and finished strong with Storm Cunningham presentation on restorative development; remarkable 40% response rate by delegates confirmed that the key educational objectives were fulfilled


Attract an audience balanced across sectors. Demonstrate the power of collaboration between the stewardship sector and local governments. Create an environment for sharing and cross-fertilizing experiences. Those were the objectives. “I just wanted to say thanks to you and everyone behind the great symposium! Great job!! It was an exciting few days, and I left feeling inspired and even somewhat empowered about finding ways to protect water. The importance of ecological services really hit home for me. There is lots of great work happening out there – thanks to all the organizers for bringing it all together,” said Laura Beckett,

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NANAIMO 2018: “The vision for restorative development is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Nanaimo 2018 Symposium Organizing Committee


“The program was structured as three modules to enable the audience to have an informed conversation,” stated John Finnie. “Context is everything. Hence, two co-keynote presentations in Module A set the context and primed participants for a town-hall sharing and learning session in Module B about restorative development. In the afternoon, a set of four reflective presentations introduced building blocks for achieving Sustainable Watershed Systems.”

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PARKSVILLE 2019 SYMPOSIUM: The right players were present, the urgency for meaningful collaboration was recognized, and ‘can do’ success stories were shared in order to explain why and how restorative land development would result in sustainable stream restoration on Vancouver Island and beyond


“Thank you so much for the immense amount of work you do to protect ecosystem services and teach us all about taking responsibility. The Vancouver Island symposium on water stewardship was so inspiring and informative. It was a wonderful experience. I left Parksville feeling hopeful,” stated Councillor Laura Dupont, City of Port Coquitlam. This article provides a re-cap and a synopsis of the modules comprising the symposium program, and features three “stories behind the stories”.

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TOWARDS RECONCILIATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the Blue Ecology Workshop mainstreamed Michael Blackstock’s vision for interweaving Indigenous knowledge & Western science (November 2017)


Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy developed by Michael Blackstock, professional forester and scholar. Blue Ecology looks at the water cycle differently to interweave First Nations and Western thought. Michael Blackstock has a vision: British Columbia water managers would embrace the Blue Ecology water cycle; our communities would become more water-resilient; and we would successfully adapt to a changing climate. His innovative thinking is recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences.

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PROGRAM AT A GLANCE for “Parksville 2019: Second Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate – Make Better Land Use Decisions & Move Towards Restorative Land Development” (April 2-3-4, 2019)


Parksville 2019 is designed to foster a conversation in communities along the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Metro Vancouver region about Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management. “The daily symposium themes are Sustainable Stream Restoration and Restorative Land Development, respectively. An evening lecture by global thought leader Storm Cunningham is the bridge between the two days. Storm Cunningham will also close the symposium with an inspirational message,” stated Paul Chapman.

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DOWNLOAD: “The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – this capacity-building program was a “grass-roots” demonstration application of how to build inter-departmental and inter-governmental alignment to achieve the vision for Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan


Inter-departmental participation by all member local governments effectively meant closing front counters on three Fridays for most of the day so that planning, engineering, operations and building inspection staff could attend the Learning Lunch seminars. “Throughout the series, our theme and our challenge was to ask participants what will they do better or differently to achieve a shared vision for the Cowichan Valley,” stated David Hewetson, Building Inspector with the City of Duncan. “This is why it was so important to get everyone thinking in terms of the What – So What – Now What mind-map.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: “Because people are so busy in their own worlds, it takes a third party to connect them,” stated John Finnie, CAVI Chair, at the launch event in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Series on Vancouver Island


“There are indeed a lot of good things happening throughout Vancouver Island,” stated John Finnie. “Yet practitioners in local government are not necessarily aware when they are being innovative and are not often aware of innovation in other municipalities. We believe a key to the success of CAVI is that we are talking to people, not preaching at them. Our approach is to inform and educate. We do this by creating situations for people to have conversations.”

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