Vancouver Island Water

The island is a demonstration region for the ‘regional team approach’. Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other. CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island-Leadership in Water Sustainability, started with a conversation in 2005. Formally launched in September 2006, and funded by government, the form of the initiative has evolved over the years. The program has demonstrated what can be done through partnerships and collaboration.

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ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY LEADER AS CATALYST: “Effective community engagement depends on involving people in decisions, sharing responsibility, and making them more accountable. This includes engaging generations, old and new. Our connection to the past should inform the future,” stated Ian Graeme, community leader and founder, Friends of Bowker Creek Society

“In 1995, I got involved in a Local Area Plan that was under development in Saanich; and started advocating for changes in watershed and stream protection policies. To draw attention to the need for action, I organized a series of community walks and developed a ‘watershed tour’ slideshow and took it around the community. When we incorporated the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, the mid 1990s was a time of a greenways movement in BC. This became one of our four goals: create a Bowker greenway to increase access to the creek. If more people became familiar with the creek, we believed, public interest would drive creek restoration,” stated Ian Graeme.

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NANAIMO REGION’S DRINKING WATER & WATERSHED PROTECTION PROGRAM (DWWP): “Because Board members are well-educated about the issues, we can provide informed and strong leadership that allows staff to achieve program objectives. We see the fruits of collaboration that brings people together at the same table to move processes forward,” stated Director Ben Geselbracht, Regional District of Nanaimo (March 2022)

“Prior to becoming a member of the Regional Board, I was well aware of the DWWP program and that the watershed is a fundamental management unit. The effectiveness of the community outreach by the team led by Julie Pisani made the DWWP a visible entity in the community. When I joined the Board, my focus was on updating the DWWP and making it a Strategic Plan priority. Because the updating and educational process for DWWP Action Plan 2.0 was so thorough, the entire Board had a clear understanding of why it was important and necessary,” stated Ben Geselbracht.

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ROLE OF THE MUNICIPAL CHAMPION AS THE INTERPRETER: “With the turnover in municipal staff, I have become the municipal champion for Bowker Creek. I remind colleagues of the municipal policies and that the Blueprint is a Council-endorsed document,” stated Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich (February 2022)

“Every time I review a development for environmental impacts, we identify that it is in the Bowker watershed, and we state what the Blueprint says about the subject reach. Also, whenever the municipality undertakes capital and maintenance projects, we make sure to refer to the Blueprint and state what it says. The good thing about this role is that the more that I do it, the more other people in the organization get the picture and say ’this is the document that we are going to use for this and that purpose’. And when it comes to interpreting the document, other staff come to me,” stated Adriane Pollard.

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A BEACON OF INSPIRATION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “The Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational commitment by so many players to implement the 100-year action plan is remarkable and precedent-setting. Simply put, nobody has done what the Bowker Creek Initiative has done. Success begets success. The process to operationalize the Blueprint is becoming self-fulfilling,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (March 2022)

“After more than two decades of sustained effort by community leaders and local government champions, their shared vision to bring Bowker Creek back to life is close to becoming a reality. Recent decisions and actions have game-changing implications. In short, the Bowker vision is on the cusp of being a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all of these reasons, the Bowker Blueprint process is a beacon of inspiration. A thread that weaves through the Bowker storyline is the right people in the right place at the right time, over time.” stated Kim Stephens.

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ORAL HISTORY EXTENDS THE PERIOD OF RECORD AND OUR UNDERSTANDING: “Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy, which emerged from interweaving First Nations and Western thought. It is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge.” – Michael Blackstock

“In my mind, traditional knowledge and western science are just different ways of recording, or documenting, and communicating the same information. I believe there is an analogy between Indigenous oral history, and a statistical approach called Bayesian analysis,” stated Neil Goeller. “We are lucky when we have 60 years of reliable records, possibly extending out to 100-plus years. When I reflect on the short-term context for hydrometric data collection in BC, there is no doubt in my mind that Indigenous knowledge would expand our horizon and help us make sense of the numbers in a larger context.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY IS A CALL FOR AN ATTITUDE CHANGE: “We need to teach children and, for that matter, learn ourselves how to respect and celebrate water’s role in our world. Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context,” stated Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar (January 2022)

“I view Western science and Indigenous ways of knowing as sovereign entities. A great deal of energy goes into rationalizing, promoting, and protecting an epistemology. However, now we need to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. We can build a collaborative epistemological framework if we transcend sovereign contemporary narrative’s boundaries, and literally mine each epistemology for gems that can be interwoven in a collaborative manner. Curiosity about other cultures draws us into a better understanding,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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NEW YORK CITY IS UNEARTHING A BROOK IT BURIED A CENTURY AGO: For decades, environmentalists and local activists campaigned to resurface the long-buried stream. Now, a changing climate is making what they struggled to achieve necessary. The Tibbetts Brook story provides a frame of reference for appreciating the scope of the Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-year Action Plan, a “beacon of inspiration” on Vancouver Island (December 2021)

Amy Chester, the managing director of Rebuild by Design, a nonprofit group, said that daylighting projects, like the one to reroute Tibbetts Brook, are important in making New York City more resilient. “We’re looking back to see what we took away from nature,” she said. “And when we give it back to nature, we’re creating an asset to face climate change.” The plan to daylight Tibbetts Brook would be one of the city’s most ambitious green infrastructure projects. The brook would be rerouted above ground for one mile — including along a former railroad line that would be turned into a new greenway.

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COMOX IS A CHAMPION SUPPORTER OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY: “It is a really rare thing to have municipal staff say that we are working with a group that actually brings value and helps out, rather than the other way around,” stated Jordan Wall, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Comox (December 2021)

By pulling threads of understanding from the past through to the present and future, it would help communities achieve the vision for reconnecting people, fish, land, and water in altered landscapes. “Thus, I echo the comments by Shelley Ashfield, the Town’s Director of Engineering when she said: they say it takes a village to raise children. Similarly, it takes a village to deal with stormwater! The Town of Comox appreciates everything that the Partnership has done to support us and guide us since 2009. We have come a long way with your help,” stated Jordan Wall.

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POSTPONED TO JANUARY 20, 2022: rescheduled date for Blue Ecology Virtual Seminar on “Creating a Climate for Change”

“In terms of looking for that hopeful path, we have turned from ‘climate change’ to ‘climate for change’ – meaning that all these stressors are making people recognize that we have to do things differently. The door has been kicked open by flood, heat, wind and waves so that the question is being asked: how do we do better? We have this opportunity right now, because the ground has shifted, to bring people to a hopeful path,” stated Paul Chapman when he announced postponement of the Blue Ecology Seminar after Michael Blackstock underwent emergency surgery only days before the original November 18, 2021 seminar date..

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FRAMEWORK FOR COLLABORATIVE INTER-MUNICIPAL WATERSHED IMPLEMENTATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CAPITAL REGION: “We ask property redevelopment proponents how they plan to achieve the goals for the Council-endorsed 100-year action plan for the Bowker Creek Blueprint. They are adjusting their designs, and on a voluntary basis,” stated the City of Victoria’s Brianne Czypyha at an inter-regional seminar titled “A Beacon of Inspiration on Vancouver Island”, and hosted by the City of Vancouver’s Green Infrastructure Implementation team (September 2021)

“While we have had early successes, we must recognize that a 100-year plan will have a lot of challenges. And so, we are thinking about how we will achieve intergenerational implementation. This is an important consideration as people retire or leave. How do we ensure, for example, that we don’t miss those opportunities when properties are coming up for redevelopment. How do we ensure that we are asking for the right things? The Framework for Collaborative Inter-Municipal Watershed Implementation is a fantastic document. It identifies what planning tools we can use for implementation of the Bowker Creek Blueprint,” stated Brianne Cyzpyha.

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