BROOKLYN CREEK RESTORATION IS A BEACON OF HOPE: “Our motto – ‘Uniting Communities’ – speaks to both human and other living creatures that use the Brooklyn Creek corridor and watershed as their home,” states Christine Hodgson, Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society (Module C on Day Two of the Parksville 2019 Symposium – a presentation on moving towards restorative development)
NOTE TO READER:
Teamwork for the common good is a powerful and often transformative experience, particularly when a longer term vision for a local creekshed engages multiple interests, disciplines and local government. Collaboration taps into the passion and ingenuity of volunteers who are driven by commitment.
On Vancouver Island, the Brooklyn Creek restoration initiative is a “beacon of hope”. A provincially significant precedents, it has a long history in demonstrating how local government partnerships with stewardship groups can “improve where we live”. The Brooklyn Creek restoration story is inspirational.
At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, the team of Al Fraser, Christine Hodgson and Marvin Kamenz will prime the audience for a town-hall conversation about “improving where we live”.
A Tale of Two Creeksheds in the Town of Comox:
Base Decision-Making on “Worth”
The “Comox hour” is an integrated presentation that blends three perspectives to showcase the long-term value of collaboration guided by a shared vision for creekshed restoration. The 3-person team comprises Christine Hodgson of the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society, and two members of the Town of Comox leadership team, namely: Al Fraser (Parks) and Marvin Kamenz (Planning). Their storytelling will prime the audience for a town-hall conversation about “improving where we live”.
First, Al Fraser will provide context for the Comox journey, with a focus on partnerships. Then, Christine Hodgson follows with a show-and-tell about Brooklyn Creek. Finally, Marvin Kamenz elaborates on three building blocks in the evolution of the Town’s incremental process for implementing changes in development practices: lower Brooklyn Corridor, North East Comox, and new areas tributary to the middle Brooklyn Corridor.
The lower corridor is a regional amenity destination, reflecting the beneficial impact of the investment by the Town and the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society in stream stabilization and riparian area enhancement. The Partnership for Water Sustainability selected Brooklyn Creek as a working example of how to apply the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) to value the worth of a creekshed, its hydrology, and ecological systems.
Community Support Starts at the Top
“Council members live within walking distance of the Brooklyn Creek corridor, are passionate about what they see, and are supportive of funding requests,” reports Al Fraser, Parks Superintendent. “The Town’s financial commitment then leverages other sources of funding. This has a snowball effect. More citizens get involved when they see volunteers working in the creek.
“Brooklyn Creek enhancement included reclaiming a former wetland off the main channel and behind the former Brooklyn Elementary school. Kids play there every day.
“It gives me joy when citizens get involved and work in the stream. Including children is critically important to cultivate and nurture their interest so that they really get it.”
“Brooklyn Creek flows through the Town of Comox and the Comox Valley Regional District, with its headwaters in City of Courtenay,” states Christine Hodgson, a Director with the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society. “Before it enters Comox Harbour, it passes through two golf courses, urban developments, farmland and two parks.
“Our motto – ‘Uniting Communities’ – speaks to both human and other living creatures that use the Brooklyn Creek corridor and watershed as their home. Since 2005, the Brooklyn Watershed Society and Town have co-funded annual creek projects totaling $780,000.”
Ecological Accounting Process
“EAP focuses on the worth of ecological services to residents,” states Marvin Kamenz, Municipal Planner. “Worth deals with real numbers which local governments need to deliver outcomes. The worth of a creekshed is defined as a package of ecological services made possible by the hydrology.
“Looking through the ‘worth lens’ culminated in a fundamental shift in philosophy regarding how to value natural assets in Comox. We are integrating the understanding gained from the Brooklyn Creek EAP demonstration application into the Town’s strategy for development.”
To Learn More:
North East Comox
In a watershed adjacent to Brooklyn Creek, the North East Comox Stormwater Management Plan applies the water balance methodology to address downstream watercourse capacity, fish habitat, agriculture and sensitive ecosystem concerns.
“We had the reality of a legal issue related to flooding in the downstream reaches of the drainage system. This provided the leverage for action by the Town,” explains Marvin Kamenz.
“The Town is being proactive in changing development practices. This is demonstrated by the training course that the Town held for drainage and land development engineers. Because the course comprised six sessions over a 3-month period, participation required a major commitment of their time.”
Whole-System, Water Balance Training for Engineers
“The Town hosted this training because the planning and design process is becoming increasingly more complex, and with greater expectations than we have ever applied to drainage infrastructure.
“The Town’s experience is that a lack of explicit identification and justification of the assumptions and simplifications made in the analysis of stormwater impacts has resulted in stormwater systems that address hypothetical as opposed to actual site characteristics and development impacts.
“It has taken a huge investment of effort and collaboration between the Town and local development engineers to: (1) realize and then understand the different constraints, requirements and abilities of each party; and (2) collaborate in the creation of a new approach to rainwater management.
Brooklyn Middle Corridor