CONVENING FOR ACTION IN THE GEORGIA BASIN: Bowker Creek Blueprint establishes precedent for moving from awareness to action – “Other watershed initiatives and other jurisdictions can benefit from the trail-blazing efforts of the Bowker Creek Initiative,” stated John Finnie, Chair, CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (January 2010)
Note to Readers:
This article is the first in a series that will both set the scene and serve as a resource for the Bowker Creek Forum on February 23, 2010. The article describes the Bowker Creek Blueprint, summarizes the process that culminated in the 100-Year Action Plan, and synthesizes lessons learned.
This Story #1 is an abridged version of an article that is 10 pages in length. To read the complete article, click on this link to download a PDF version of Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin: Bowker Creek Blueprint establishes precedent for moving from awareness to action
Bowker Creek Forum celebrates 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration
Bowker Creek once meandered through forests, meadows and wetlands, before spilling into the ocean in Oak Bay. Salmon spawned in the stream and provided food for First Nations.
“As agriculture and urban development expanded in the watershed, the stream channel was excavated, straightened and enclosed in pipes,” states Jody Watson, Chair of the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI).
“Despite the degradation it has suffered, Bowker Creek offers connections with the natural environment to the 30,000 watershed residents, and provides an opportunity to restore islands of nature within the urban environment,” continues Tanis Gower, BCI Coordinator.
“Bowker Creek is important to the community and has become a demonstration project for urban watershed management in the Capital Region, and in the Georgia Basin,” adds Jody Watson.
Bowker Creek is a Provincially Significant Demonstration Initiative
The Bowker Creek Initiative demonstrates HOW a ‘regional team approach’ can enable action at a watershed scale that results in coordinated and integrated changes on the ground.
“Other watershed initiatives and other jurisdictions can benefit from the trail-blazing efforts of the Bowker Creek Initiative. Effective sharing of their experience can potentially accelerate the change process elsewhere in the Georgia Basin,” observes John Finnie, Chair of Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, known by the acronym CAVI.
To Learn More:
To gain an understanding of the regional team approach, interested readers can download a copy of a guidance document released by the Water Sustainability Action Plan in December 2009: Backgrounder: Shared Responsibility Underpins a Regional Team Approach to Creating Our Future in British Columbia
What Are the Lessons Learned?
According to Jody Watson and Tanis Gower, the BCI Steering Committee has identified seven distinguishing characteristics that capture the essence of lessons learned and experience gained. These are distilled below as a series of Key Messages:
- Community Values Drive BCI and Blueprint
- Coordinator Role is Crucial
- Outreach – A Powerful Tool
- Commit to the Vision
- Integrate Watershed & Creek Actions
- Regional Alignment Starts with a Regional Team Approach
- Blueprint Allows for Climate Change
“There is a story behind each ‘learning’, and the BCI Steering Committee is interested in sharing those stories,” comments Jody Watson. “These stories are central to the founding and implementation of the BCI.”
Why Call the Plan a Blueprint?
“The process leading to the choice of ‘blueprint’ to describe the watershed plan is a story unto itself,” states Jody Watson.
“The plan says very clearly this is how we will achieve the watershed vision,” continues Tanis Gower. “During one committee discussion, there was an Ah-Ha moment when someone referred to the plan as the blueprint to the vision. The phrase resonated.”
“Having a blueprint for action ensures that positive changes can happen incrementally, and that opportunities for major improvements can be leveraged as they arise,” concludes Jody Watson.