LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Community Values Drive Bowker Creek Initiative and Blueprint – “For the Bowker Creek Blueprint to achieve what we want, watershed residents need to understand ourselves as part of the Bowker Creek story,” stated Gerald Harris, Bowker Creek Initiative
Stream Restoration is a Bonding Experience
Established in 2004, the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI) is a unique multi-jurisdictional effort in British Columbia’s Capital Region. Local governments, community groups, post-secondary institutions and private citizens are collaborating to improve the health of Bowker Creek and its watershed. Bowker Creek has become a demonstration area for urban watershed management and restoration in the Georgia Basin.
The establishment of the BCI was truly driven by the community, and the BowkerCreek Blueprint: A 100-year action plan to restore the Bowker Creek watershed reflects community values. This outcome has been achieved because the BCI is a partnership that has enabled community groups and municipal staffs to coalesce around a shared vision. Gerald Harris, teacher, is a volunteer watershed steward and is a community representative on the BCI Outreach Committee.
Gerald Harris: In His Own Words
“I am a 5-year resident of the Bowker Creek watershed. I love the creek, and I was dismayed by its condition. I want it to be wholesome again. It was a brochure for a Bioengineering Workshop that caught my attention. It was an opportunity to become involved in a hands-on way,” states Gerald Harris.
“Working with others in the stream is a vital part for me. That’s when we become a community. The experience taps something tribal in us.”
“The stream restoration work is exciting when one recognizes the glorious project one is part of. It is a tremendous bonding experience: These are my people and we are of this place. Working together along the creek is one kind of social glue for the committee members.”
Telling the Story
“For the Bowker Creek Blueprint to achieve what we want, watershed residents need to understand ourselves as part of the Bowker Creek story. We belong among many centuries of people who have lived and will live along the creek. This storytelling aspect needs volunteers telling the story and building community celebrations around it. As more people in the community identify ourselves consciously as Bowker Creek watershed people, the Blueprint will have the political support it needs over the decades.”
“There have been salmon and trout in Bowker Creek, and there can be again. To me this is what the work is most concretely abour,” concludes Gerald Harris.
TO LEARN MORE:
To download a comprehensive article about community engagement in the Bowker Creek watershed, click on Shared Responsibility: Community Perspectives on Developing and Implementing the 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration.