WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: Re-Imagining the 3rd Annual Vancouver Island Symposium for online delivery to showcase “Actionable Visions for Reconnecting Hydrology and Ecology in an Altered Landscape” on YouTube on November 19 / November 26 / December 3

Note to Reader:

In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic changed everything and created a new reality for everyone on Planet Earth. Until there is a vaccine, mass gatherings are not allowed in British Columbia, by order of the Provincial Health Officer. Thus, events such as the Third Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate must be delivered online rather than in-person. Adapting to this new reality necessitated decoupling of the original 2-day program for Comox Valley 2020.

Decoupling means that the two founding partners, NALT (Nanaimo & Area Land Trust) and the Partnership for Water Sustainability, are proceeding with a stripped down and reconstituted program for the third in the Symposia Series.

Pre-pandemic, NALT and the Partnership would have delivered Day Two of the Comox Valley 2020 program as a set of three modules in April. Under the pandemic response plan, the three modules are being undertaken as a Video Trilogy Series, with delivery via YouTube on November 19, November 26 and December 3.

REGISTER AT: https://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/event/2020/Third-Water-Stewardship-Symposium-Reimagined

Pandemic Response Plan for the third in the Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate

“Pre-pandemic, we had embarked upon a bold approach by designing the inter-regional day of the 2-day Comox Valley 2020 as a ‘facilitated conversation’ among team members and with the audience. This meant almost no use of PowerPoint slides, other than for the finale module where it would be essential to prime the audience about the science so that interaction with the team would be informed and meaningful,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“In the age of COVID 19, however, it is necessary to adapt and evolve in response to the new reality imposed by physical distancing. As reconstituted in accordance with our pandemic response plan, the Third Annual Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate is an online event. This radical change created an operational challenge for us.

“How could we possibly replicate or simulate a facilitated conversation without bringing people together in a room? And how could we avoid going down the same pathway as others, which would be to subject viewers to a day of staring at their computer screens?

“We chose to tackle the challenge by embracing this way of thinking: we will be bold, we will move beyond a conventional webinar format, we will create a memorable experience for online viewers. We considered ways to utilize Zoom, but soon realized that Zoom by itself did not meet our out-of-the-ordinary needs.”

Plan for the Video Trilogy Series

“We realized that the concept of a ‘facilitated conversation’ would only work if we brought each of the teams for our three modules together in a safe space and did a video shoot. And so the concept took shape for a unique and interactive experience via YouTube in combination with Zoom.

“The concept morphed into a plan for delivering the Video Trilogy Series in 90-minute sessions over a 3-week period. Immediately after watching each video on YouTube, our virtual audience will be able to chat in real-time with the presentation team. The members of the team will participate via a Zoom feed.

“Filming will be done at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in downtown Nanaimo because of its state-of-the-art air filter system. Also, the rooms are sufficiently large to accommodate a team of up to six persons appropriately distanced in a circle, as well as provide surrounding space for setting up effective camera angles in a COVID-compliant setting. The venue selection followed a process to ensure panelist and crew safety as well as suitability for videography.

“In going the video route, we are investing time and effort to produce a set of high-quality, legacy resources that will inform, educate and create understanding. We believe this approach will ultimately expand our reach well beyond the few hundred who would have attended an in-person symposium in the City of Courtenay.

“The COVID 19 pandemic has forced us to be creative in how we leverage technology to communicate the message that the time has come to Reconnect Hydrology and Ecology for the greater good. The format for the third in the Vancouver Island Symposium Series may be different, but the spotlight remains squarely on implementing actionable visions,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

For a program synopsis and to read a description of each module in the virtual symposium, download a copy of 3rd Annual Symposium Reimagined as Video Trilogy Series.

Actionable Visions for “Reconnecting Hydrology and Ecology” in an Altered Landscape

“The format for the Vancouver Island Symposia Series is evolving, but the guiding premise endures, and that is – citizen science coupled with collaboration between the stewardship and local government sectors is powerful. When the combination of citizen talent is aligned with a local government that is both visionary and focused, outstanding achievements are not only possible, but realistic,” explains Kim Stephens in describing the content for the Video Trilogy Series.

“Richard Boase, representing the District of North Vancouver, returns as the moderator. He will guide the facilitated conversations in each module of the Video Trilogy Series. Richard brings three ingredients to the moderator role: passion, enthusiasm and a sense of humour. “

Video Module #1 on November 19, 2020:
BC’s Climate Reality, Inter-Regional Collaboration &
Actionable Visions

 

Five Program Managers and Doers Representing Four Regional Districts

The five panel members in the first of the Video Trilogy Series will provide insider insights into an array of initiatives and programs underway on Vancouver Island.

  • Julie Pisani is the Program Coordinator for the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection program, which is now in the second decade of implementation.
  • Jody Watson is with the Capital Regional District and is the Supervisor for Environmental Planning & Initiatives. Jody is a Past-Chair of the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative, which is a collaborative effort by four local governments and community groups.
  • Kate Miller is the Environmental Services Manager in the Engineering Department at the Cowichan Valley Regional District. Her responsibilities include the CVRD’s newly launched Drinking Water & Watershed Protection service.
  • Darry Monteith is the Manager of Liquid Waste Planning for the Comox Valley Regional District. She is responsible for developing a regional Rainwater Management Strategy.
  • Zoe Norcross-Nu’u is also with the Comox Valley Regional District, and is the Watershed Coordinator for the Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan.

This team of inter-regional champions will share and reflect on successes, challenges and lessons learned over the past decade in their regions. They will point the way forward to grow the restorative footprint.

Transform Good Intentions and High-Level Policies into Standard Practices on the Ground

Dating back to 2006 when the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island program was launched, the program managers and the doers with the four Vancouver Island regional districts introduced above have collaborated under the umbrella of initiatives facilitated by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. In 2012, CAVI morphed into the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) when Metro Vancouver was added to the mix.

The purpose of inter-regional collaboration is sharing and peer-based learning, with a goal of adapting water sustainability and ‘design with nature’ concepts to the individual regional contexts. In 2016, the five regional district partners passed Board Resolutions expressing support for IREI program objectives for the 5-year period 2016-2021. Sharing and learning from each other has encouraged consideration, testing, and application of new ideas and approaches.

Quotable Quote

“A reality is that progress will be incremental when transforming good intentions and high-level policies into standard practices on the ground – especially when success in the local government setting depends so much on alignment of interests, such that all the players embrace shared responsibility,” states Kim Stephens.

“The 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration – are also essential ingredients.

“An appropriate analogy is building a bridge across a river. The time to construct the foundation can seem like an eternity. But then, very quickly, the bridge superstructure takes shape as the pace of construction accelerates.”

Video Module #2 on November 26, 2020:
Natural Assets as Ecological Systems and Services

Act Like a Watershed: Overcoming Barriers to Whole-System Action

The year 2015 represents the demarcation for a new era of asset management in British Columbia. The new era was launched when Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework was released. To date, the focus of grant programs administered by the provincial government and the Union of BC Municipalities has been on transforming asset management within the constructed commons.

The BC Framework also set the stage for whole-system action by establishing expectations for maintenance and management of ecological assets within the natural commons. During the period 2015 through 2019, growing awareness that the scope of “asset management for sustainable service delivery” must eventually be expanded to encompass ecological assets resulted in the Primer on Integrating Natural Assets into Asset Management, released in September 2019.

In the second of the Video Trilogy Series, Tim Pringle and Emanuel Machado will discuss barriers and challenges currently limiting progress vis-à-vis whole-system action. They will also elaborate on work that is underway by EAP and MNAI to overcome those barriers. In sharing their stories, they will inform, educate and inspire.

Context for EAP and MNAI Programs

EAP is the culmination of a 30-year journey by Tim Pringle, EAP Chair. He has thought about and worked hard to develop and evolve a guiding philosophy, pragmatic strategy and meaningful metrics for valuing the services provided by nature.

Emanuel Machado is the Chief Administrative Officer & Resiliency Officer, Town of Gibsons. He is also the MNAI Chair. He changed the local government conversation. As the ‘face of MNAI’, Emanuel’s philosophy and local government credibility continues to generate momentum for replicating the ‘Gibson’s Model’ in other communities.

Quotable Quotes

“Ecological systems play a fundamental role in a local government’s ability to deliver services to its residents and businesses,” states Emanuel Machado. Yet the ecological services provided by natural assets are not fully measured or appreciated for their role in supporting municipal infrastructure and property enjoyment. Municipal natural asset management provides a roadmap and tools to incorporate ecosystems services into on-going asset management efforts.”

“It is insufficient to look at nature primarily as a substitute for engineered infrastructure,” adds Tim Pringle. “We are looking at a system. Without an ecological system, there are no ecological services. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the system as a whole. Everything is connected. Local governments have existing tools in the form of policies and legislation for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of ecological assets. What they have lacked until now are a pragmatic methodology for financial valuation, and meaningful metrics for effective decision-making and implementation.”

Video Module #3 on December 3, 2020:
International Year of the Salmon – Will Lightning Strike Twice?

Improve Where We Live

In the trilogy finale, Dr. Kim Hyatt and  Nick Leone of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will team with Dr. Peter Tschaplinski and Neil Goeller of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to share their federal and provincial perspectives, respectively.

Kim and Peter are research scientists. They embody a wealth of fisheries-related knowledge. The experience of this engaging duo dates back to the 1970s. Thus, they do know of what they speak! They provide a balance of strategic and regulatory perspectives on how communities can apply the lessons learned over four decades, reconnect hydrology and ecology, stitch together altered landscapes, and grow the restorative footprint.

Nick Leone and Neil Goeller are on the ground practitioners in the fields of fish habitat restoration and hydrology, respectively. As members of the organizing committee, they contribute the federal and provincial perspectives to the work of the Vancouver Island Symposia Series.

The team’s key message is that past practices have left a legacy of impacts that still exist on the land base, some of which are getting worse rather than “recovering”. Stitching together altered landscapes and restoring the water balance requires connecting people to landscapes, with salmon being a rallying cry for action. The International Year of the Salmon is a way to focus attention on this outcome: Improve Where We Live.

Four theme areas for informing the conversation about restoring the water balance in altered landscapes.

 

Collaboration Across Sectors

In British Columbia, the iconic salmon is the canary in the coal mine. The multi-year program that is the International Year of the Salmon (IYS) could be a ‘carpe diem moment’ (i.e. seize the day) for communities. Why is that so, the reader may well ask? The answer is that IYS has grown into an effort to ensure the resilience of both salmon and people, especially now that the global rhythms of water are in flux due to a changing climate.

For the first time in decades, the stars are in alignment. IYS is an international program to which our federal and provincial governments have committed both money and time. Thus, lightning could strike twice and launch a second era of science-based action. With IYS as a guiding vision, communities could build on what some have known since the 1980s and, in so doing, offset the neglect of past decades. The common denominator between now and then is a ‘salmon crisis’, only this time accentuated by a climate emergency.

IYS is the opportunity to follow through with an effective response this time, and truly reconnect hydrology and ecology. Success depends on application of science-based understanding (what we know) harnessed to political will (to make it happen). But the driver for reconnecting people to the landscape, and implementing actionable visions, requires bottom-up actions to create and sustain political will.

A relevant and highly successful precedent for the ‘top-down & bottom-up approach’ is the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) which mobilized communities in the 1990s. The success of USHP was, in large part, due to the collaboration of the federal, provincial and local governments, working in partnership with the stewardship sector.

Quotable Quotes

“From an International Year of the Salmon perspective, large efforts of a very large mass of people around the rims of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and likely Arctic oceans will need to ‘come together’ for any real change to occur. From this perspective the requirement in an increasingly interconnected world is closer to ‘humankind’ than to a few of us in the local community. That said, it’s the sum of us in local communities that will move this closer to a humankind undertaking,” states Kim Hyatt.

“Significant initiatives and projects directly relevant to sustaining and enhancing wild salmon and their freshwater habitats are under way such as the federal-provincial BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy together with other provincial natural resource ministries are key players,” adds Peter Tschaplinski.

To Learn More:

For a program synopsis and to read a description of each module in the virtual symposium, download a copy of 3rd Annual Symposium Reimagined as Video Trilogy Series.