NANAIMO 2018: “The vision for restorative development is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Nanaimo 2018 Symposium Organizing Committee

Note to Reader:

For a comprehensive set of legacy resources, including videos, that provide a complete record of the Nanaimo 2018 Symposium, visit the symposium homepage at Resources are organized under six dropdowns as listed below:

Nanaimo 2018 attracted an audience of close to 150. It was an outreach and professional development event, held under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative. It was designed to foster a conversation in communities along the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Metro Vancouver region about “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.

Cascading Modules

“The program for the Nanaimo 2018 Symposium was structured as three modules that were cascading in terms of the content that enabled the audience to have an informed conversation,” states John Finnie, Chair of the Organizing Committee.

“Context is everything. Hence, two co-keynote presentations in Module A set the context and prime participants for a town-hall sharing and learning session in Module B about restorative development. In the afternoon, a set of four reflective presentations introduced building blocks for achieving Sustainable Watershed Systems.”

“The energy, the enthusiasm in the room that day in April 2018 was simply amazing. It was palpable.”


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MODULE A: How Communities Will “Get it Right” – Setting the Context

BC has arrived at a fork in the road. Consider the weather extremes experienced in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Impacts are magnified by human interventions. In his co-keynote presentation, Kim Stephens (Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability) explained the call to action for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.

He asked the audience to reflect on this question: How will communities ‘get it right’ through collaboration as land develops and redevelops?

In her co-keynote presentation, Zo Ann Morten (Executive Director of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation) reflected on the role stewardship groups have played since the early 1990s, as advocates for stream-protection, collaborating with decision-makers and providing important on-the-stream observations and actions.

“Community members caring for waterways are the key to making a difference in restoring naturally functioning watersheds over time,” said Zo Ann Morten.

MODULE B: Panel & Town-Hall Session on Community Empowerment & Sustainable Partnerships with Local Government

“The panel and town-hall segment was the program heart for the Nanaimo Water Symposium,” stated Peter Law, panel lead. “Panel reflections on project experience set the scene for town-hall interaction. The over-arching theme was: collaboration is necessary for restorative development; and a ‘design with nature’ land and water ethic is key to ‘getting it right’ over time.”

“Success stories resulting from local government and stewardship sector collaboration were showcased. To inspire tangible and lasting action after the symposium, panel members painted a picture of what collaboration must look like in practice to truly achieve the vision for restorative development.”

MODULE C:  Building Blocks for Sustainable Watershed Systems

Julie Pisani led off and elaborated on initiatives in the Regional District of Nanaimo under the umbrella of the Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program. These include outreach and education, local water studies and community-based monitoring, and policy advocacy and support for land use planning.

Then Tim Pringle shared demonstration application anecdotes about the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP), a whole-system view of watersheds that assesses hydrology in order to accurately describe ecological services.

Christine  Mettler followed and reported on research conducted with dozens of urban watershed practitioners across B.C., outlining environmental and management challenges and how new tools developed under B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act could help to address some of these challenges.

Bob Sandford provided a closing summary. He connect the dots between his call to action the previous evening at the public lecture, and what he heard throughout the day of the symposium. His emphasis was on identifying action items that are tangible and possible, and would lead to restorative development in the mid-Vancouver Island region and beyond.

Setting the Stage for Parksville 2019

In his closing remarks at Nanaimo 2018, Symposium moderator Richard Boase boldly announced the committee’s spur of the moment decision to organize a follow-on symposium in 2019 – and with Storm Cunningham as the headliner. The audience erupted in a cheer! How often does that happen?

In retrospect, Nanaimo was unique in the way it brought together ‘the right people in the right place at the right moment in time’. The crowd that day was on fire.

Feedback on the Nanaimo Water Symposium is represented by this testimonial from Craig Wightman, Living Rivers: “I want to congratulate and thank the members of the Organizing Committee for their sterling efforts in organizing and staging the joint NALT/Partnership Symposium on Wednesday-Thursday. I thought it was very professional and well-received by a large audience of VI water stewardship leaders. I know there was no formal feedback form for attendees, but also think you’ll be receiving many kudos either personally or by email over the next few days.”