NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES: “The Town of Gibsons has pioneered an approach to natural asset management which aligns with the mission of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. This synergy reinforces our respective efforts to change how local governments view and value ecological assets,” Kim Stephens told Mayor and Council when he presented the Town with a Champion Supporter award (September 2020)

Note to Reader:

The Town of Gibsons is a coastal community of approximately 4,600 persons in southwestern British Columbia, and is the main marine gateway to the Sunshine Coast. On September 15th 2020, Kim Stephens of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC presented the Mayor and Council with a framed “letter of recognition” of the Town as a Champion Supporter of the Partnership. 

The Town of Gibsons has achieved national and international prominence for its innovation and leadership related to eco-asset management. Beginning in 2014, the success of the “Town of Gibsons Model” changed the conversation in the local government sector about the role of natural assets as core municipal services.

In this era of COVID, the presentation was delivered virtually via Zoom. However, the framed letter was real, and was hand-delivered to the Town’s Chief Administrative and Resiliency Officer during the filming of Watershed Moments, the Trilogy Video Series. The photo below records that moment at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, the venue for video filming. 

The Town’s support for the Partnership contributes to the success of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI). This is a unique mechanism for inter-governmental collaboration.

Filming of the Video Trilogy Series: Emanuel Machado (L), Richard Boase (C) and Tim Pringle (R)

A COVID-compliant presentation of the framed letter by Kim Stephens (L) to Emanuel Machado (R)

Town of Gibsons is a Champion Supporter of the
Partnership for Water Sustainability

The Champion Supporter designation is the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s way of formally recognizing organizations whose enduring commitment enables the Partnership to foster and support collaborative leadership in the local government setting by “convening for action” in the interests of the common good.

“Collaborative leadership conceptualizes leadership as shared among members, rather than turning to one heroic leader to guide and be the expert. When we bring the appropriate people together in constructive ways with good information, they will create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of the organization and community,” states Ted van der Gulik, Partnership President.

“The Town of Gibson’s demonstrated commitment to achieving a shared vision regarding the role of natural assets in providing core municipal services is vitally important to the Partnership’s capability to carry out our mission.”

How the Town Supports the Partnership

In his virtual presentation to Mayor and Council, Kim Stephens stated that “The Town of Gibsons has supported the Partnership in a number of ways.” He then went on to elaborate on five aspects.  Kim Stephens is the Partnership’s Executive Director.

“Collaboration between the Town and the Partnership dates back to 2013. Within four years, a working relationship had evolved into formal membership in the Partnership. The Town is now represented on the Partnership Leadership Team in the person of Emanuel Machado.

“The Town has pioneered an approach to natural asset management which aligns with the mission of the Partnership. This synergy reinforces our respective efforts to change how local governments view and value ecological assets, and establish budgets for their maintenance and management.

“The Town is actively contributing to the success of the Partnership’s Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). This unique program provides local governments with a mechanism to collaborate, share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience.

“The Town has acted on behalf of the Partnership and the IREI program to apply for grants from UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) and FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities). This type of support is tangible, and makes a material difference to the effectiveness of the Partnership.

“The Town’s support is a lynch-pin for the Partnership’s ability to implement our program for mainstreaming EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. EAP provides local governments with a methodology and metrics to calculate the financial value of land within stream setback zones.

“As a Champion Supporter, the Town of Gibsons is in distinguished company. Previously, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has recognized five regional districts representing some 75% of BC’s population; as well as thirteen municipalities ranging in size from the Town of Comox to the City of Surrey.”

About the Partnership:

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is a non-profit society that delivers services in collaboration with government. It originated as an inter-governmental partnership, formed in 2002.

The Partnership embraces shared responsibility, and is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting, It deliver initiatives and programs, such as the IREI, through partnerships and collaboration under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan.

Through its communication platforms, the Partnership celebrates the commitment, hard work and perseverance of individuals and organizations whose efforts make a difference for the common good vis-à-vis land and water management in the local government setting.

The Partnership plays a bridging role among the provincial government, local government and community stewardship sectors. The mantra of the Partnership is: develop tools; develop talent; focus on outcomes.

Natural Assets as Ecological Systems and Services

In accepting the letter award of recognition, Mayor Bill Beamish stated that:

“This award is really recognition of our staff, in particular our CAO, and the work that he and others have done in this very important area. The current Council was elected in 2018 and we are continually being educated in terms of natural assets and natural assets management.

“It is a true feather in the cap of the Town of Gibsons that we are getting recognition outside the community. At some point, I hope that (the Town’s accomplishments) will be recognized as strongly within the community. There is still work to be done in that area.”

Mayor Beamish concluded his remarks with a reference to the Video Trilogy Series that the Partnership is delivering online in November-December 2020. One of the modules features Emanuel Machado and the Partnership’s Tim Pringle in a facilitated conversation about Natural Assets as Ecological Systems and Services.

“Any time that we can learn more about natural asset management and what is happening in other areas is valuable to us all. Council thanks the Partnership for all the work that you do through your programs,” stated Mayor Beamish.

To Learn More:

Download the Agenda for the Council meeting on September 15, 2020.

View the virtual presentation via Zoom on YouTube:

Natural assets support the delivery of core local government services, while doing so much more

“Two programs – MNAI, the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative; and EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process – are facilitating the move from awareness to action that accounts for ecological systems and services,” explains Kim Stephens.

“The two initiatives are outcomes flowing from the tireless determination of two pioneers, EAP Chair Tim Pringle and MNAI Chair Emanuel Machado, to transform how local governments view ecological systems and the services they provide. Development of both MNAI and EAP began around 2015. Without the leadership of Emanuel Machado plus the bold leap of faith by Town Council in embracing the Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy in 2013, there is no MNAI. It is that simple.”

Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy

“At the heart of the strategy is North America’s first natural asset policy, which is what originally attracted province-wide, Canada-wide and international attention. This strategy was, and continues to be, transformational. It directs the Town to consider the role of natural assets within its overall asset management strategy. Since declaring Nature its most valuable infrastructure asset, the Town has integrated the Eco-Asset Strategy into everything that the municipality does. This whole-of-government approach is what instills the stewardship ethic across the organization.

“It is not an over-statement to say that, as the face of the Town of Gibsons, Emanuel Machado has had an impact in changing the local government conversation in BC. People learn from stories and he has been tireless in sharing the Town’s story with other BC communities. Along with Tim Pringle, he has made a difference in mainstreaming the idea that nature supports the delivery of core local government services. His philosophy and local government credibility continues to generate momentum for replicating and/or adapting the ‘Town of Gibson’s Model’ in other communities.

“Actually translating policy objectives into tangible outcomes requires that local governments have a methodology and metrics for valuing ecological assets and services in an asset management strategy. Once you have a number for better maintenance and management of ecological assets, what do you do with that number? Putting it into play requires an understanding of how local government processes work. That is where Emanuel Machado has so much wisdom to share with other BC communities,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

First, download a coy of Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management: The Town of Gibsons experience in financial planning and reporting.

Then click on the links to read a selection of articles posted elsewhere on the website:

Finally, register for Watershed Moments, the Trilogy Video Series and watch the module featuring Emanuel Machado and Tim Pringle on November 26, 2020 at 10:00AM.

About the Video Trilogy Series

Watershed Moments, the video trilogy series, is cascading. The series focus is on the whole-system approach, connecting land and water, and restoring water balance in altered landscapes. The series will inform, educate and create understanding.The series blends technologies to include live interaction with each presentation team.

The three videos are designed to be used as educational legacy resources that inspire action. Each is built around a “facilitated conversation” moderated by Richard Boase, District of North Vancouver. These conversations are much more than talking heads in a studio setting. Inter-weaving of outdoor footage creates an engaging narrative.

The Registration Fee for the series is a a nominal amount – $30 for stewardship groups and $50 for all others!


WHEN: Nov 19 / Nov 26 / Dec 3 (from 10:00AM to 11:30AM)