A 100-YEAR ACTION PLAN FOR URBAN WATERSHED RESTORATION: “The Bowker Creek Blueprint is about reclaiming ‘lost territory’ from damage caused as a result of our ‘collective indifference’ because we did not consider the values of urban streams important,” stated Eric Bonham in his keynote reflections at the Bowker Creek Forum (February 2010)

Note to Reader:

Released in February 2004, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia introduced a framework for building partnerships and demonstrating what can be achieved through a ‘top-down & bottom-up strategy’ that aligns efforts at the provincial, regional and local scales to respond and adapt to a changing world.

2010 was a ‘watershed year’ for the Water Sustainability Action Plan, with outreach taking place at 10 major events in three regions, to provide peer-based learning for Living Water Smart, Building Greener Communities, and Adapting to a Changing Climate. The first of these events, held in February 2010 and hosted by the Capital Regional District, was the ……

2010 Bowker Creek Forum (held at University of Victoria, February)

The Bowker Creek Forum was an opportunity to learn about urban watershed management successes and challenges from the Bowker Creek Initiative, and celebrate the 100-year Action Plan for implementing the Bowker Creek Blueprint.

The  Forum facilitated sharing of  information about successful approaches, so that they could be replicated in other jurisdictions. While the spotlight was clearly on the Bowker Creek Blueprint, local government representatives from Metro Vancouver and ‘north of the Malahat’ also shared their experiences related to achieving watershed-based objectives.

To Learn More:

Download the 1-page Agenda Overview for Bowker Creek Forum: An Integrated Approach to Urban Watershed Management.

Convening for Action in the Capital Region

“Several years ago, I met with Kim Stephens and  Eric Bonham at a luncheon organized by the Urban Development Institute. Why is it, I asked them, that there is no CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island presence in the Capital Region. I think there needs to be, I told them, because all sorts of things are going on,” stated Jody Watson, Chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative, in her opening remarks.

“From that conversation, over lunch, the idea came together for a series of four  events. This Bowker Creek Forum is the fourth event. The first three were held in 2008 (as part of the Vancouver Island Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series).”

“So, why did we choose Bowker Creek, one might ask? The watershed is completely built out, and the creek channel is enclosed in pipes for two-thirds of its length. We thought of it as a learning opportunity. If we can do it in Bowker, we can do it in any creek in the region. There had been a lot of work done by the community to raise awareness. Of interest to the CRD, we wanted to see whether and how we could make things work in a multi-jurisdictional watershed.

“The biggest factor in the decision, however, was the very, very strong contingent in the community that wanted to get a better functioning creek back in their community. There were a lot of interested residents; and that really pushed the decision to choose Bowker Creek.”

Watch the You Tube video  of Jody Watson explain the considerations that resulted in selection of Bowker as a pilot:

Create a Legacy Through Collaboration

“The role that community groups have played in Blueprint development is impressive. Speaking from experience, it sends a powerful message when community representatives are motivated by the common good and are in a position to express their commitment in terms such as these: we live here, and we are passionate about the legacy and the quality of life that we leave for our children and grand-children,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director, and the program lead for the Action Plan from inception through development through implementation.

“It is essential that their story be told so that others will be inspired to follow the lead of the Bowker Creek Initiative. Simply put, transformational change will result when decision-makers in government collaborate with grass-root visionaries in the community to create a legacy.”

Top-Down & Bottom-Up Governance

“At the Bowker Creek Forum, we talked about a number of broad principles,” stated Eric Bonham, a former Director in two ministries – Environment and Municipal Affairs. He delivered opening remarks that provided an Action Plan frame-of-reference for the Forum. “First, there is the necessity for partnerships and collaboration. Second is the importance of leadership. Again and again, we have seen how this has come through in the Bowker Creek Blueprint. Leadership from the top down; and leadership from the bottom up. Third is a long-term vision, in particular the 100-year timeline.”

“A fourth principle is complementing the goals of Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan. Fifth is seeking balance between ecology and economy. And most important of all is recognizing  the importance of community. This is what distinguishes the Bowker Blueprint from other projects. The Bowker Blueprint has been truly driven by the passion and vision from the community up.”

Watch the YouTube video of Eric Bonham’s keynote address: