GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Awareness / Education / Requirement – “Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will be by regulation,” stated Chuck Gale, a senior local government director of engineering in the Metro Vancouver region and the first Chair (2003-2005) of the BC Green Infrastructure Partnership, when he reflected on the path forward at the 2004 Consultation Workshop held in Metro Vancouver
“The primary purpose of the consultation was to explore the diversity of issues and difficulties inherent in defining and implementing a green infrastructure approach to land development. The consultation resulted in identification of 17 recommendations in five theme areas,” reported Chuck Gale. “An over-arching theme that emerged from the discussion revolves around the need to provide the bridge between those who make the decisions and those who implement the decisions.”
GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “I see my years of chairing the Green Infrastructure Partnership as helping to get the ball rolling and ideas disseminated, on green infrastructure, all of which has subsequently been taken up by others to a much greater degree of implementation and success,” stated Paul Ham, Past-Chair (2005-2008)
The paradigm-shift that occurred during Paul Ham’s watch far exceeded original expectation that the partnership would be a catalyst for change. As General Manager of Engineering with the City of Surrey, Paul Ham changed history by enabling his staff to pioneer implementation of green infrastructure. He set in motion a chain of events. That is his legacy. At a regional scale, Paul Ham enhanced the credibility of the Green Infrastructure Partnership. This enabled building of bridges to elected representatives and senior managers in the Metro Vancouver region.
RECONNECT PEOPLE, FISH, LAND AND WATER: “At the end of the day, it often comes down to the right people in the right place at the right time, over time. When the stars are aligned, it can result in pure magic,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, in his panel presentation at the virtual Living Soils Symposium hosted by Regeneration Canada (February 2021)
“The vision is to reconnect people, fish, land and water in altered landscapes. The big question is HOW we will pull this off. Decisions ripple through time. So it is imperative that we replace short-term thinking with a long-term view that extends out 50, 100 or more years. Instant gratification and quarterly reports are examples of the worst kinds of short-term thinking. That is what we have to replace with a career perspective. It takes a career to figure things out. And then we have to pass that understanding and wisdom on to the next generation,” stated Kim Stephens.
LIVING LAKES CANADA – COLLABORATING TO PROTECT WATER IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: “If we don’t build this water balance approach to support subsequent water budgets, we’re not going to be prepared for what potentially could be an exponential drop in water supply,” states Kat Hartwig, Founder & Executive Director, Living Lakes Canada
Climate change impacts and the need for increased water monitoring to fill important data gaps have been well documented in several studies over the past decades. “One of the things we were interested in was looking at how we could fill those data gaps and how we could support local government and Indigenous water monitoring priorities because there are such limited resources for collecting and sharing data. So we set out to build an open source data hub. Now we’ve got the platform built, we’re training groups to upload their data, and we’re receiving feedback from groups and provincial and local governments to ensure we’re supporting their needs,” stated Kat Hartwig.
ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: a set of videos provide an audio record of the “Water OUT = Water IN workshop” held in April 2005 – the event launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative and also fulfilled a provincial government commitment flowing from the 2004 Drought Forum
“We documented the day by recording it on video. Posted on YouTube, the videos provide a readily accessible record, for posterity, of where our minds were at in 2005. Expressed another way, the videos provide a window into the thinking behind the messages that the members of the workshop team presented. The viewer can listen to and reflect on the words as speakers explain each of their PowerPoint slides. Thus, we envision the videos being of historical value for future researchers,” stated Kim Stephens.
BEING IN BALANCE IS THE FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION WITHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: “Staff gives good advice and Council makes the decision – the operative phrase is a respect-based relationship,” stated Peter Steblin, Chief Administrative Officer with the City of Coquitlam, when he reflected on the ingredients for good decision-making
“One needs good administrative expertise to advise and serve the political arm. At the same time, the political arm has to trust the administrative arm. The two arms must work together. Council buy-in follows when Council fundamentally respects the work that Staff does. In Coquitlam, respect has grown over time. It would not be possible without a really wise, good servant’s heart within the Council table,” stated Peter Steblin. “An airplane analogy is one way to describe the relationship. If either wing is not functioning properly, the plane will crash.”
ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: Looking back, the “Water OUT = Water IN Workshop” held in the Okanagan showcased shared responsibility and represented a giant leap forward in terms of mainstreaming the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia within the provincial government (April 2005)
The Water Sustainability Action Plan provides an umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives that inform Provincial policy through the shared responsibility model. Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Action Plan in February 2004. She connected the dots between her Ministry’s Service Plan and the Action Plan potential as a top-down and bottom-up initiative. There was a natural fit. It was her advocacy within government that got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan.
MOVING TOWARDS A WATER-RESILIENT FUTURE: “Given the New Normal of floods and droughts in BC, we are at one of those ‘watershed moments’ in time where we need to challenge folks to elevate their horizons. We are at a tipping point. Will we adapt? Will we get it right? Will we restore balance to the water cycle?” – Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, at the Annual Conference of Engineers & Geoscientists BC (October 2018)
Kim Stephens quoted the author Eva Kras: “Our present global and societal problem is that short-term thinking governs much of what we do. In many organizations, the long-term view has somehow become excluded over many generations. We need to re-learn basically ‘how we think’, using both the right (long-term) and left (short-term) hemispheres of our brain. Both are important, but the sad part is that we have convinced ourselves that the Left Hemisphere can do EVERYTHING.”
ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: Program Structure & Key Messages for a Convening for Action Workshop on Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk in Water Supply Management – “The old approach of ‘super-sizing’ has proven expensive and is no longer sustainable,” stated Ray Fung, Chair of the BC Water Sustainability Committee (April 2005)
“The workshop connected the dots between water resource planning, climate variability and risk management to provide an understanding of how Demand Management tools and techniques can achieve a balance between supply and demand. This technical transfer session explored the tools and techniques available through demand-side management to achieve a water balance without relying on new sources and infrastructure,” stated Ray Fung.
ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “We are building a language and getting people involved. We are developing ideas and educating people,” stated Kim Stephens at the workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative, (April 2005)
“The program was carefully planned and provided a blend of policy and technical. The District of Highlands Case Study made the day real for participants. The workshop attracted a diverse audience.weighted towards water system operators, but also included a smattering of elected officials and community groups. In short, there was a good mix of perspectives for the purposes of stimulating discussion in the Breakout Session . This meant that the workshop content had to be communicated in a way that would resonate with all participants,” stated Kim Stephens.