Bowker Blueprint Update: “Watershed Moment” in BC’s Capital Region Connects the Future with the Past
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.
Completed in 2010, the Bowker Creek Blueprint demonstrates how major breakthroughs happen when decision makers in government collaborate with grass-roots visionaries in the community to create desired outcomes.
Flagship Project in Oak Bay Demonstrates Commitment to Restoring Watershed Function
The Bowker Creek Blueprint is precedent-setting. Implementation over the next 100 years will incrementally restore the ‘water balance’ in the urban heart of British Columbia’s Capital Region. And thanks to an influx of cash from the federal government, a stretch of Bowker Creek next to Oak Bay High School will soon have a very different look.
Currently, the reach of Bowker Creek that runs along the border of Oak Bay High School and the Oak Bay Recreation Centre, is contained in an open concrete channel, sustaining no aquatic life or native riparian habitat. The Bowker Creek Blueprint identifies restoration of this section of Bowker Creek as a key priority for implementation within 3 to 5 years (i.e. by 2015).
New High School Creates the Opportunity
Bowker Creek restoration is being undertaken in conjunction with replacement of the existing Oak Bay High with a new school, Neighbourhood Learning Centre and new sports fields.
“This flagship project will transform a section of Bowker Creek from a degraded, highly urbanized creek into a naturally functioning water environment. This is a huge catalyst for moving forward and seeing the fulfillment of the watershed vision that is outlined in the Bowker Creek Blueprint,” states Jody Watson, Chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative.
“With the recent acceptance by all three partner municipalities of the Bowker Creek Blueprint: A 100-year action plan to restore the Bowker Creek watershed, moving forward with the flagship Oak Bay High project is a true ‘watershed moment’ for the creek and the community. It will be a wonderful example of how a long-term coordinated plan to restore function to a degraded watershed can happen, piece by piece, and when opportunities arise, when we work together towards a common vision.”
“In local government, we have seen what works and what doesn’t. The Bowker Creek Blueprint is the outcome of a landscape-based and action-oriented process. It is a truly integrated plan to restore watershed function over time: Agree on the vision. Set the targets. Provide municipal staff with the detail necessary to guide site level decisions as opportunities arise. Then implement,” concludes Jody Watson.
Everyone Benefits Through Collaboration
“The Oak Bay High project is an excellent example of how collaboration between local governments, senior levels of government and the school district can produce such positive results for the entire community,” states Nils Jensen, Mayor of Oak Bay. “This project also demonstrates Oak Bay’s commitment to the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment, the provision of green amenities to our residents, and the education and heightened awareness of our youth .”
“This is a wonderful opportunity to maximize teaching opportunities at the creek site while supporting sustainable approaches to rainwater management,” said Ida Chong, BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “It is gratifying to see such innovative ideas come to fruition through the Gas Tax Fund, to the benefit of Bowker Creek and area learners.”
“It’s a watershed moment, because it connects the future to all the work that was done in the past,” concludes Soren Henrich, who represents the Friends of Bowker Creek on the BCI Steering Committee. Among his many contributions is the BCI logo.
Since the creek runs through the community school property, partnership opportunities exist to involve the students in all aspects of creek restoration, from channel design and planting to monitoring, and to the creation of curriculum where the naturalized creek becomes an outdoor classroom and a community amenity.
To download the news release about the funding announcement by Infrastructure Canada, click on Oak Bay to rehabilitate and transform section of Bowker Creek.
About the Bowker Creek Blueprint
In February 2010, the Bowker Creek Forum attracted provincial attention to the precedent-setting accompishment that is the Bowker Creek Blueprint. To access the “homepage” established on the Waterbucket website for this transformational event, click here. In addition, click on these links:
- Bowker Creek Blueprint: Grass-Roots Community Leadership
- “Looking back, the Bowker Creek Forum in 2002 was THE turning point for restoring watershed health,” says Chris Jensen
- Community Values Drive Bowker Creek Initiative and Blueprint
- Ian Graeme: Community Champion Demonstrates the “Power of One” in the Bowker Creek Watershed
- Community Engagement Drives “Bowker Creek Initiative” in the urban heartland of British Columbia’s Capital Region
- Bowker Creek Initiative celebrates 10-year anniversary; recognizes leadership provided by Chair Jody Watson
The experience of the Bowker Creek Initiative in the Capital Region serves as a guide for implementing a ‘top-down and bottom-up’ approach that connects with the community and gets the vision right.