City of Parksville’s OCP can be a demonstration application for Living Water Smart, says Kim Stephens


Inter-Regional Education Initiative provides context for collaboration

In January 2012, the City of Parkville launched an Official Community Plan (OCP) Review. This process provided an opportunity for Living Rivers and the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC to undertake a pilot ‘water balance’ study in collaboration with the City and as an adjunct to the OCP process.

“As an action item arising from our presentation to Parksville Council on January 16, we met with City Staff to explore how we can align our efforts to help them be efficient and effective in dealing with competing priorities, not add to their workloads when resources are stretched,” reports Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director. “We agreed to collaborate at a ‘high-level’, rather than delving into the details of a particular case study. The advantage of this approach is that it lends itself to an ‘inform and educate’ activity that fits within the framework provided by the Inter-Regional Education Initiative on Rainwater Management in a Watershed Sustainability Context (IREI).

The goal in collaborating

“Our goal is to help Council, Staff and Consultants understand what ‘protect stream health’ means; and in so doing, achieve four objectives:

  • Provide a Living Water Smart demonstration example.
  • Apply an educational approach to inform decision-making by local government.
  • Showcase the science-based innovation of Gilles Wendling and Jim Dumont regarding groundwater and stream health, respectively.
  • Inform the stream health aspects of the Parksville OCP.

“The OCP is high-level in creating a ‘vision and goals’ through a community consultation process. Therefore, a desired outcome from the Partnership’s perspective is that the OCP Review would simply incorporate appropriate language that connects the dots to Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan.”

Protect Stream Health

“While other local governments have referenced Living Water Smart in their regulatory and/or guidance documents, the City of Parksville has the opportunity to be the first to actually embed the vision for Living Water Smart. All it requires is that the City adopt the ‘stream health’ policy statement on page 43 of the Living Water Smart document,” emphasizes Kim Stephens:

By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.

“This would then formally establish stream health as an over-arching goal for master drainage planning and rainwater management in City. It would also provide a bridge to implementing a ‘water balance’ approach that connects rainfall, groundwater and stream health. This is the reason the Partnership believes it is important that City’s OCP be a demonstration application for Living Water Smart.”

Protect Watershed Health

“This direct linkage would then reflect the environmental ethic of the community as reported in the Ipsos-Reid survey of community values. Of the five environmental priorities included in the survey, Parksville citizens place the greatest emphasis on “preserving and protecting watersheds”.

“Access to tools and the experience of other local governments will help the City be efficient and effective in moving forward with implementation of integrated rainwater management that is founded on the Water Balance Methodology. This the why City will benefit from participation in the Inter-Regional Education Initiative,” concludes Kim Stephens.