Tribute to Erik Karlsen

IN MEMORIAM: “Erik Karlsen was a ‘change agent’ in every sense of the word, made his mark on so many fronts, and was respected throughout,” stated Eric Bonham, a former colleague in the BC provincial government, when he reflected on the influence and impact of Erik Karlsen in bringing people with different perspectives together to find common ground

“Erik Karlsen reflected the very best qualities of a dedicated civil servant, committed to outcomes that served the common interests of the province, building partnerships that resulted in creative yet practical policies, and endlessly thinking ‘outside the box’ that oftentimes made his colleagues’ heads spin! Erik built many connections throughout his extraordinary career that included contacts within the three levels of government, the academic sector and community stewardship groups. His broad range of interests allowed him to move comfortably from one discipline to another,” stated Eric Bonham.

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IN MEMORIAM: Erik Karlsen (1945-2020) has a special place in the history of the Partnership for Water Sustainability. He was the ‘eminence grise’ during development and early years of implementing the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

Over the course of his career in government, Erik Karlsen bridged the worlds of municipal affairs and environmental stewardship. For a generation of elected representatives, his was a familiar face in the local government setting. He was indeed one of a kind, and his ability to envision the big picture, yet identify practical steps going forward, was what made him stand out from the crowd and earned him much respect from his colleagues. Erik served the public interest – the public hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow, for the environment, for human communities, and for future generations – almost without equal.

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IN MEMORIAM: “Erik Karlsen had a long and unique career in the public service. He served the public interest almost without equal, with a style likely not to be seen again for a very long time. The Georgia Basin Initiative was so indicative of who Eric was and how he operated,” stated Joan Sawicki, a former BC Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks (during the period 1996 through 2000)

“I first met Erik in action when we were assigned to work together, from mid-1994 to 1996. I had just been appointed parliamentary secretary to Minister of Municipal Affairs, Darlene Marzari. So, she put us together – and the Georgia Basin Initiative was born. We were a very small staff at GBI – Judith Cullington, Charmaine Hall, and Brent Mueller. We were a small group but, with Erik’s energy and access to just about everybody everywhere, he created the illusion of something much larger,” stated Joan Sawicki.

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