MODULE C – DAY TWO – PARKSVILLE 2019 SYMPOSIUM: Beacons of Hope – Bowker Creek and Brooklyn Creek restoration success stories on Vancouver Island are inspirational because they demonstrate how local government partnerships with stewardship groups can be transformational

Note to Reader:

Click on PARKSVILLE SYMPOSIUM AGENDA to download a package that elaborates on the presentation topics in each of the four modules that comprise the program on each symposium day. Parksville 2019 is a call to action. Read together, the set of abstracts create a seamless storyline that is designed to inform delegates so that they will know what to expect on April 3-4 when they convene in Parksville. 

MODULE C: Moving Towards Restorative Land Development

Module C comprises a set of three presentations. The first, by Kim Stephens, introduces two Vancouver Island success stories in order to provide relevant context. The program allows one hour for the telling of each success story, with one-third of the time allocated for town-hall interaction.

Beacons of Hope: Bowker & Brooklyn Restoration Success Stories are Inspirational

“Bowker and Brooklyn are provincially significant precedents. Each has a long history,” states Kim Stephens. “Each demonstrates how local government partnerships with stewardship groups can be transformational and ‘improve where we live’. These precedents represent a range of situations: Bowker in the urban heart of the Capital Region; Brooklyn in the suburban Comox Valley. They are beacons of hope,” stated Kim Stephens.

Bringing Bowker Creek Back to Life in the Capital Region: Community Buy-In is Key

“The Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative serves as a ‘how-to-guide’ for a ‘top-down and bottom-up’ approach that connects with the community and gets the vision right,” states Jody Watson, Supervisor, Environmental Planning & Initiatives, Capital Regional District. Jody has also served as Chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative.

“Degraded over generations, and buried for much of its length, Bowker restoration demonstrates how a good strategy is the path to success. The Blueprint and 100-year Action Plan resulted from a unique multi-jurisdictional effort.

Impact of Outreach

“Outreach proved to be a powerful tool for building community and political support for action. Success begets success. Implementation is approaching the second decade.

“The Bowker Creek Blueprint presents a vision of how an urban creek can be transformed into a natural oasis for wildlife and people. Healthy urban watersheds foster habitat for native flora and fauna, provide greenways between neighbourhoods and result in cleaner water, less flooding and more liveable communities.”

Leading Change

“I really want to highlight the significance of the Bowker Creek Watershed Blueprint. In a word, it was a game-changer. It is a game-changer. It continues to be a game-changer. And it is provincially significant and precedent-setting. It is also inspirational,” states Kim Stephens. “In my 40-year career as a professional engineer, there is nothing that equals it. And the reason it is so important is that it gave the rest of us a vision of what can be. In this region, you moved it from just having reports to actually having action.”

“I always say you judge progress by how far you have come, not where you still have to get to. And so, Bowker Creek really is significant. The experience of what this region has done is informing others, from Metro Vancouver all the way up to the Comox Valley.

“The real value of collaboration is helping everyone go farther, more efficiently and effectively. And if I think about the Bowker Creek in the context of what we are trying to do in British Columbia, it is about designing with nature. If we implement green infrastructure, that is how we ultimately mimic the natural water balance. Watershed health really does depend on how we respect the land.”

To Learn More:

Leading up to the Bowker Creek Forum in February 2010, the Partnership for Water Sustainability published a set of four stories that progressively foreshadowed and/or elaborated on what would be covered at the Forum. A fifth story documents the Forum outcomes. To download PDF copies of these stories, click on the links below:

Story #1 titled  Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin: Bowker Creek Blueprint establishes precedent for moving from awareness to actiondescribes the Bowker Creek Blueprint, summarizes the process that culminated in the 100-Year Action Plan, and synthesizes lessons learned.

Story #2 titled Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin: Bowker Creek Forum promotes inter-regional sharing and collaboration introduces the vision for collaboration among the three regions (Capital Region, north of the Malahat, Metro Vancouver); and describes the ‘regional team approach’ to achieving water sustainability through implementation of green infrastructure.

Story #3 titled Shared Responsibility: Community Perspectives on Developing and Implementing the 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration described the role played by community groups and associations; and explainws how community values influenced the plan development process and are reflected in the Bowker Creek Blueprint.

Story #4 titled Shared Responsibility: Local Government Perspectives on Developing and Implementing the 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration elaborated on what on-the-ground implementation will mean for municipal staffs which are tasked with making things happen.

Story #5 titled Call to Action: Bowker Creek Forum advances a ‘regional team approach’ in the Georgia Basin summarizes what was accomplished by the Forum, and foreshadows where the outcomes may lead.

A Tale of Two Creeksheds in the Town of Comox:
Base Decision-Making on “Worth”

The 3-person presentation team comprises Allan Fraser (Superintendent of Parks & Property Manager)  and Marvin Kamenz (Municipal Planner) with the Town of Comox, and Robert Deane, President of the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society.

The lower Brooklyn Creek Corridor is a regional amenity destination. It is a working example of applying the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) to value the worth of a creekshed, its hydrology, and ecological systems. Lessons learned are informing implementation of a whole-system, water balance strategy for development.

In an adjacent watershed, the North East Comox SWMP uses the water balance methodology to address downstream watercourse capacity, fish habit, agriculture and sensitive ecosystem concerns.

Work is now underway to apply the lessons learned from both areas to create a neighbourhood plan that protects and enhances the package of ecological services of the middle Brooklyn Corridor (environmental protection, recreation and stormwater drainage) for future neighbourhood residents, while protecting those same values in the lower Brooklyn Corridor.

A desired outcome for the Comox presentation is that symposium delegates will understand the relevance of looking through the “worth lens”.

Looking Through the Worth Lens

“The concept of natural capital and natural assets can be a challenge to integrate effectively into asset management practices,” states Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) initiative.

“Local governments need ‘real numbers’ to deliver outcomes and support decision making. EAP – Ecological Accounting Process – deals with a basic question: what is a creekshed WORTH, now and in future, to the community and various intervenors?

“WORTH is defined as use by the community of a ‘package of ecological services’ made possible by the hydrology. Ecological services are diverse, and provide environmental, social and traditional (core) services to the community via a natural asset – in this case, a creek/riparian area”.

To Learn More:

Download REPORT ON: “Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Brooklyn Creek Demonstration Application in the Comox Valley” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released September 2018)



To read the consolidated story of all four modules on Day Two, click on RESTORATIVE LAND DEVELOPMENT: Parksville 2019 Symposium organizing committee releases the Detailed Agenda for Day Two (April 4) – “Getting It Right by Making Better Land Use Decisions”.