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Bowker Creek Blueprint

LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Bowker Creek Blueprint wins EcoStar Award for Integrated Watershed Management – “The ‘blueprint for action’ is a perfect example of working with others to improve watershed health long-term, and I am proud to have been part of creating it,” stated Steven Fifield, Manager of Underground Utilities, City of Victoria (September 2012)


“The Bowker Blueprint is helping the community understand that: we all live in a watershed, all water ends up in the same place when it runs off the land, and everyone must commit to actions that improve watershed health. I have been involved in engineering for a long, long time and will soon be retiring. In the olden days, we would just pipe water away, and we would not think twice about it. In the latter part of my career, I have been part of a great team that has looked at rainfall differently and shares a vision for what the Bowker Creek watershed can be again,” stated Steven Fifield.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: “Implementation of the Bowker Creek Blueprint has begun. The District of Saanich and our partners have set out on a new path towards sustainable planning for infrastructure and public works within a multi-jurisdictional watershed boundary,” stated Colin Doyle, Director of Engineering, District of Saanich (April 2012)


It is a visionary plan and a first of its kind. The Blueprint details watershed and reach-specific actions to rehabilitate the creek channel and to restore hydrologic function to the watershed through the process of redevelopment over the next few decades. With a clear vision and Blueprint in place, municipalities and communities are able to incorporate efforts into operational work plans, volunteer and school group efforts and to work together with the development community to restore Bowker Creek and its watershed within a vibrant and active community,” stated Colin Doyle.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Bowker Creek Initiative celebrates 10-year anniversary; recognizes leadership provided by Chair Jody Watson – “It takes genuine and committed leadership to cultivate relationships, build trust and a community. Jody, you excel at communicating the vision and instilling a sense of mission that is true to the watershed plan,” stated Ian Graeme (April 2012)


The Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI) is a unique multi-jurisdictional effort. It is a collaboration between local governments, community groups, post-secondary institutions and private citizens to improve the health of Bowker Creek and its watershed. The BCI has developed the Bowker Creek Blueprint: A 100-year action plan to restore the Bowker Creek watershed. It took genuine and committed leadership. Jody Watson put a lot of emphasis on developing relationships and trust. She is a great communicator and is always looking for opportunities and focuses on results.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Bowker Creek Blueprint & 100-Year Action Plan to Restore the Health of the Watershed – “When I met with four grass-roots community leaders to learn their stories, it was clear that each individual is passionate about the social and ecological well-being of the Bowker Creek community,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (April 2012)


“Viewed from the outside, the strength of the Bowker Creek Initiative lies in the complementary talents and passions of its leadership team. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The key is that they believe in the mission: This is what we want our watershed to look like in 100 years, and these are the steps we will take to get there. Major breakthroughs happen when decision makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community to create desired outcomes. This is the essence of the Bowker Creek story on southern Vancouver Island.” stated Kim Stephens.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Ian Graeme, community champion demonstrated the “Power of One” in galvanizing action that ultimately resulted in the Bowker Creek Blueprint for urban watershed restoration


“Five generations of my family have lived in Victoria. As a child, Bowker Creek was a place to explore and cultivate my curiosity. In 1995, I got involved in a Local Area Plan that was under development in Saanich; and started advocating for changes in watershed and stream protection policies. To draw attention to the need for action, I organized a series of community walks and developed a ‘watershed tour’ slideshow and took it around the community,” recalls Ian Graeme.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: “Looking back, the Bowker Creek Forum in 2002 was THE turning point for community action to restore watershed health,” said Chris Jensen, a founding member of the Bowker Creek Initiative


“At university, I specialized in hydrology so I could learn how to achieve a balance between development and nature. I wanted to apply this knowledge locally and take it from theory to practice. I didn’t have to look any further than the watershed I live in for the opportunity to do so. Use whatever analogy you wish to use to describe the situation, the reality is that there had been a progressive deterioration in creek health and we were at the bottom of the curve,” stated Chris Jensen.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Community Values Drive Bowker Creek Initiative and Blueprint – “For the Bowker Creek Blueprint to achieve what we want, watershed residents need to understand ourselves as part of the Bowker Creek story,” stated Gerald Harris, Bowker Creek Initiative


“I love the creek, and I was dismayed by its condition. I want it to be wholesome again. It was a brochure for a Bioengineering Workshop that caught my attention. It was an opportunity to become involved in a hands-on way. Working with others in the stream is a vital part for me. The experience taps something tribal in us. The stream restoration work is exciting. It is a tremendous bonding experience: These are my people and we are of this place. Working together along the creek is one kind of social glue for the committee members,” stated Gerald Harris.

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LEADING CHANGE IN THE CAPITAL REGION: Community engagement drives Bowker Creek Initiative in the urban heartland of British Columbia’s Capital Region – “After reading the book Neighbor Power by Seattle’s Jim Diers, I was inspired to make a difference by engaging community through art events and education,” stated Soren Henrich


“I had been a director of a neighbourhood association. We were always reacting to development requests. We were in the front lines and this was taking a toll on me. It was not fun. And then I experienced an Ah-Ha moment. I realized then that my thing is Bowker Creek. I wanted to be able to answer the question: where is Bowker Creek. And I wanted to ask others: do you know that you live in a watershed,” recalled Soren Henrich.

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BIGGER PIPES OR GREENER COMMUNITIES: “Green infrastructure practices offers a potential strategy for reducing the flood impacts of climate change in the Bowker Creek Watershed,” stated Chris Jensen, at a meeting of the Bowker Creek Initiative, when he presented the results of the hydrological assessment he completed as part of his Master’s research (April 2012)


“My Master’s program is the interface between what I do at the Ministry and my involvement in the community, My applied research has direct community application because I have used Bowker Creek as a case study. My focus is on how we can reduce our hydrologic footprint as the watershed redevelops. The results could have provincial significance,” stated Chris Jensen. His research indicates that in smaller urban watersheds, green infrastructure may play an important role in climate change adaptation.

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FLAGSHIP PROJECT IS A WATERSHED MOMENT: “The Oak Bay High creek restoration project is an excellent example of how collaboration between local governments, senior levels of government and the school district can produce such positive results for the entire community,” stated Nils Jensen, Mayor of Oak Bay, when Infrastructure Canada announced funding for the project (February 2012)


The reach of Bowker Creek through the Oak Bay High School site is currently contained in an open concrete channel, sustaining no aquatic life or native riparian habitat. The project will transform this section from a degraded, highly urbanized creek into a naturally functioning water environment. As well, it will provide an accessible, natural green space for students, residents and families alike. “This project demonstrates Oak Bay’s commitment to the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment,” stated Mayor Nils Jensen.

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