NANAIMO WATER STEWARDSHIP SYMPOSIUM – ON YOUTUBE (April 11-12, 2018): “The vision for restorative development is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated John Finnie, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia

Note to Reader:

The Symposium has been captured in its entirety in a set of five videos that have been uploaded to YouTube for ease of access by those who are curious and/or interested to learn about what transpired on April 11-12 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Or simply refresh their memories. Scroll down, click on the links, and enjoy!

View the Symposium Legacy Videos on YouTube!

A vision for restorative development that revitalizes watershed function and health provided a philosophical backdrop for the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium.

The term ‘restorative development’ was coined by the writer Storm Cunningham in his first book The Restoration Economy, published in 2002. It was the first book to document the new disciplines and fast-growing industries that are renewing our natural, built, and socioeconomic environments.

The Symposium provided a platform for a call for action because adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we value nature and service land. An informed stewardship sector can be a catalyst for action on Vancouver Island and beyond, through collaboration with local government.

The Challenge for Engineers is to ‘Design with Nature’:

The Symposium program caught Storm Cunningham’s long-distance attention. On the eve of the Symposium, he shared his reflections in an interview. His insights provide useful context regarding the challenge of moving from awareness to implementation.

“In my experience, the engineering profession has trouble adopting the restorative mind-set. And why is that? Simply put, their problem is an inability to come to terms with this reality-check – almost all of their work in the 21st century needs to be based on undoing, or re-doing, all of their work from the 20th century. That is what it will take to restore natural systems, and to revitalize cities,” emphasized Storm Cunningham.

The Hard Work of Hope – Public Lecture

Renowned author and speaker Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair for Water & Climate Security at the United Nations University, set the tone for the Nanaimo Water Symposium. At a public lecture on the evening of April 11, 2018 his inspirational message was a call to action.

The Hard Work of Hope, the latest book by Bob Sandford and co-author Jon O’Riordan, seeks to develop effective solutions to the growing urgency for global action on climate change. It builds on events that have transpired since the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

How Communities Will “Get it Right” – Setting the Context

BC has arrived at a fork in the road. Consider the weather extremes experienced in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Impacts are magnified by human interventions. In his co-keynote presentation, Kim Stephens (Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability) explained the call to action for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.

He asked the audience to reflect on this question: How will communities ‘get it right’ through collaboration as land develops and redevelops?


In her co-keynote presentation, Zo Ann Morten (Executive Director of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation) reflected on the role stewardship groups have played since the early 1990s, as advocates for stream-protection, collaborating with decision-makers and providing important on-the-stream observations and actions.

“Community members caring for waterways are the key to making a difference in restoring naturally functioning watersheds over time,” says Zo Ann Morten.

Panel & Town-Hall Session on Community Empowerment & Sustainable Partnerships with Local Government

“The panel and town-hall segment was the program heart for the Nanaimo Water Symposium,” stated Peter Law, panel lead. “Panel reflections on project experience set the scene for town-hall interaction. The over-arching theme was: collaboration is necessary for restorative development; and a ‘design with nature’ land and water ethic is key to ‘getting it right’ over time.”

“Success stories resulting from local government and stewardship sector collaboration were showcased. To inspire tangible and lasting action after the symposium, panel members painted a picture of what collaboration must look like in practice to truly achieve the vision for restorative development.”

Building Blocks for Sustainable Watershed Systems

Julie Pisani led-off and elaborated on initiatives in the Regional District of Nanaimo under the umbrella of the Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program. These included outreach and education, local water studies and community-based monitoring, and policy advocacy and support for land use planning.

Then Tim Pringle shared demonstration application anecdotes about the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP), a whole-system view of watersheds that assesses hydrology in order to accurately describe ecological services.

Christine  Mettler followed and reported on research conducted with dozens of urban watershed practitioners across B.C., outlining environmental and management challenges and how new tools developed under B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act could help to address some of these challenges.’

The Journey to a Water-Resilient Future: Action Items for the Nanaimo Region

Bob Sandford connected the dots between his call to action the previous evening, and what he heard throughout the day of the symposium. His emphasis was on identifying action items that are tangible and possible, and would lead to restorative development in the mid-Vancouver Island region and beyond. The essence of his message? Once we change our attitude, we will find the path to success.