ROLE OF THE MUNICIPAL CHAMPION AS THE INTERPRETER: “With the turnover in municipal staff, I have become the municipal champion for Bowker Creek. I remind colleagues of the municipal policies and that the Blueprint is a Council-endorsed document,” stated Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich (February 2022)
Note to Reader:
Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate. The edition published on March 1, 2022 featured Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich.
A founding member of the Bowker Creek Initiative in the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island, Adriane Pollard provides valuable insights into the role of the municipal champion as the interpreter of a Council-endorsed guidance document, and the process for translating a vision (creek daylighting) into a tangible outcome on the ground.
The Bowker Creek Blueprint is a 100-year action plan to peel back the pavement, daylight an historical creek, and restore nature within the Victoria urban region on Vancouver Island. The intergenerational commitment by so many players is remarkable, precedent-setting, and inspirational.
Why are people so excited about Bowker? After all, it is either buried or degraded. The answer, according to District of Saanich environmental planner Adriane Pollard, is that the Victoria region has a dry climate and few streams. Where there is a stream that could support fish life and residents can see the creek flowing through their neighbourhood, she says, they get excited about nature in the city.
The Role of the Municipal Champion as the Interpreter
Adriane Pollard is an integral and essential part of the Bowker story. Adriane personifies intergenerational continuity. Involved since Day One, she is at the centre of the action. This provides her with the full picture of the journey over two decades and counting.
Adriane Pollard has experienced, and continues to experience, what the idea of the intergenerational baton looks like in practice. Furthermore, her perspective on the power of collaboration is viewed through both the intra-municipal and inter-municipal lenses.
The context for featuring Adriane Pollard in this edition of Waterbucket eNews is to draw attention to the lynchpin role of the municipal champion as the interpreter. Adriane Pollard’s tenure at Saanich began in 1998. She is one of a handful of remaining long-term employees; and the only person in the planning, engineering and environmental departments who has been part of the Bowker journey from the start.
There is so much to learn from Adriane Pollard’s insights into the role of a municipal champion. This edition of Waterbucket eNews presents extracts only. Why not click on the image below and download the complete document in the Living Water Smart Series?
The storyline for this Bowker Blueprint legacy resource is structured in three parts:
Part 1 captures the essence of the Bowker Blueprint story. The motivation for those involved is clear: it is the “Blueprint mission”. It is a “calling”. They do not need other motivations when what they do is the right thing to do.
Part 2 describes how the intergenerational baton is being accepted within Saanich. Everything now revolves around the creek rather than the other way around. “Work. See the barrier. Knock it down,” says Adriane Pollard.
Part 3 describes how reimagining the Shelbourne Road Corridor as the Shelbourne Valley was game-changing, By embedding the Bowker Blueprint, it made it possible to operationalize the vision for stream daylighting.
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“There is no equal, anywhere, to the Bowker Creek Blueprint. The 100-year action plan for stream daylighting is about an intergenerational commitment to creating “islands of nature” within the urban environment and restoring a “ribbon of blue”. The players comprise government and community. All embrace shared responsibility,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director.
“After more than two decades of sustained effort by community leaders and local government champions, their shared vision to bring Bowker Creek back to life is close to becoming a reality. Recent decisions and actions have game-changing implications. In short, the Bowker vision is on the cusp of being a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all of these reasons, the Bowker Blueprint process is a beacon of inspiration.”
Oral History Connects Dots: Know, Understand and Care
“Since 2008, the Partnership has been an observer of the process and the Bowker Blueprint journey. A thread that weaves through the Bowker storyline is the right people in the right place at the right time, over time. It is a story about people who really care. Their passion and commitment are impressive.”
“The Bowker story drives home the importance of oral history and the role of storytellers in passing on knowledge, experience, and understanding. Viewed in this context, Adriane Pollard has a crucial function in the District of Saanich. She is the “corporate memory” for the Bowker Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan. Adriane Pollard provides organizational knowledge transfer. She makes sure important learnings are shared with newcomers.”
The Role of the Municipal Champion as the Interpreter:
An Interview with Adriane Pollard
In September 2021, the Partnership for Water Sustainability released Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Bowker Creek Blueprint is a Beacon of Inspiration. It is not a report. Rather, it is a short history of building bridges of understanding from the past to the present and future.
The focus is on the champions – within local governments and in the community. These dedicated individuals provide leadership and motivate others to strive for the greater good. Without determined champions such as Adriane Pollard, nothing gets started and nothing happens.
The Bowker Blueprint is the outcome of a unique multi-jurisdictional effort. The Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI) is a collaboration between local governments, community groups, post-secondary institutions, and private citizens to improve the stream and creekshed. Adriane Pollard is the longest serving member of the BCI Steering Committee.
What the Intergenerational Baton Looks Like in Practice
“With the turnover in municipal staff in the District of Saanich, I have become the municipal champion for Bowker Creek. I remind colleagues of the municipal policies and that the Blueprint is a Council-endorsed document,” states Adriane Pollard.
“Every time I review a development for environmental impacts, we identify that it is in the Bowker watershed, and we state what the Blueprint says about the subject reach. Also, whenever the municipality undertakes capital and maintenance projects, we make sure to refer to the Blueprint and state what it says.”
“The good thing about this role is that the more that I do it, the more other people in the organization get the picture and say ’this is the document that we are going to use for this and that purpose’. And when it comes to interpreting the document, other staff come to me.”
Role of the BCI Steering Committee as the Interpreter
“There is a role of the committee as well as ‘the interpreter’. When one of the partners at the table retires or changes jobs, then the committee draws in their replacement.”
“The new person gets to see all the people around the table, that the Blueprint is endorsed by their municipality, and here is how we use it. This keeps it alive. At one point, we had a big turnover in municipal staff, and we had to bring the new people up to speed very quickly. Otherwise, they may not have known.”
Knock Down Barriers
“You need layers of champions. You need a champion in the community. You need a champion in the municipality. You need a champion to keep everybody aware and moving forward – and that is the role of the CRD Watershed Coordinator,” continues Adriane Pollard.
“It is easy to hide behind your bylaws and manuals of practice and say that this is the way it has to be. It is not until you start working with people in the other disciplines that you realize well, we can all have wins here. A little bit of tweaking and we can all have wins.”
“Work. See the barrier. Knock it down. As long as people continue doing that…the 2003 Watershed Management Plan, the 2010 Blueprint, the 2020 Daylighting Feasibility Study and so on will be kept alive that way. Maybe there will be another limitation that comes up. Maybe it is money. Maybe it is a lack of coordination between municipalities. But that is how you get recharged to work, see the barrier, and knock it down.”
Stream Daylighting is the Latest Game-Changer
“The intergenerational baton is being accepted. I believe the Daylighting Feasibility Study is the Bowker Blueprint for this next generation of municipal employees and community people. It is a ground-breaking document. It is meaningful. It causes us to focus and act. It gives us the knowledge to go forward.”
“At the time, the Blueprint felt like that. After ten years, we realize this is great, but it has its limitations. Now that we have the Daylighting Feasibility Study, that limitation has been erased. Now we have to catch up on that and start implementing,” concludes Adriane Pollard.