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Convening for Action in 2019

CONVENING FOR ACTION IN THE NANAIMO REGION: “The stewardship groups comprising the Nanaimo Watershed Health Community of Practice have set out to build relationships with City Council and staff in a collegial and collaborative way. The relationships will grow as we build a culture of stewardship,” states Paul Chapman, NALT Executive Director


Galvanized by what they learned during the Nanaimo 2018 Symposium, a diverse group of stewardship groups took their first coordinated action before leaving the symposium when they formed a creekshed coalition. Eighteen months later, in October 2019, the group took the Mayor and members of Council on a creekshed walkabout so that they would see firsthand the nature of the issues of concern. “The saying from the hiking community is: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” stated Paul Chapman when he provided the context for collaboration.

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TAPPED OUT: “The Koksilah case study highlights a pressing problem in implementing the Water Sustainability Act: existing groundwater users may already be taking too much water,” wrote Tanis Gower, lead author


Losing access to water has serious economic impacts for farms and businesses. Every effort should be made to prevent this scenario. Instead, a more proactive and collaborative water management system needs to be developed for overdrawn watersheds like the Koksilah, to protect aquatic life, manage conflict between water users, prioritize water uses, and recognize Aboriginal rights and title. This can only be accomplished through water planning,” stated Tanis Gower.

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URBAN DESIGN, NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING & PACKAGE OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES: Town of Comox precedents are working examples of what “reconnecting hydrology and ecology” looks like in practice


Town of Comox experience demonstrates that ‘Ecological Services are Core Municipal Services, not an Add-On’. Mayor Russ Arnott elaborates: “The ecological services within Brooklyn Creek are integral components of the Town’s core services of rainwater management, parks and fish habitat protection. Once the Town switched to viewing ecological services as core municipal services, we then asked ourselves: how can we do things better? The Draft Anderton Corridor Neighbourhood Concept Plan is the result.”

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RECONNECTING HYDROLOGY AND ECOLOGY: “The Partnership for Water Sustainability in B.C. has identified the Town of Comox as a ‘beacon of hope’ because of the precedents it has established when implementing the twin pillars of the whole-system, water balance approach to land development,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, when he met with Town Council (September 2019)


“For more than a decade, the Town has been on an amazing journey. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia tells the Town’s story in the latest in our Watershed Case Profile Series,” stated Kim Stephens. “In this document, we recognize the passion, commitment and perseverance over many years on the part of Town of Comox local government staff and volunteers in the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society to improve where they live. Working together, they are making a difference.”

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APPROACH TO LAND DEVELOPMENT IN NORTHEAST COMOX IS PRECEDENT-SETTING: “As we proceed with next steps, the most challenging will be educating staff, developers, consultants, and home owners of the new standards, procedures, policies and guidelines,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Municipal Engineer, Town of Comox


The time, effort and energy it takes to change the standard of engineering practice is substantial, as the Town’s journey clearly shows. Implementing effective water balance management requires a systems approach on all levels. Ripple effects are cascading. “Changing engineering standards is a journey in itself. To ensure success, the Town will need to adopt the design standards, update existing subdivision servicing specifications, establish a number of bylaws, and implement a cost recovery program,” stated Shelley Ashfield.

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: “The Comox Valley consists of 26 watersheds. Each of us has a role to play to ensure these watersheds remain healthy for generations to come,” stated Judith Walker, Village of Cumberland planner, at the Joint Staff Training Workshop hosted by the Comox Valley Regional District


In 2008, the four Comox Valley local governments volunteered to be a ‘demonstration application’ for exploration of a regional team approach to ‘designing with nature’, guided by the watershed health target in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. “It does not matter how far away you live or build from a creek, lake, bog or the ocean – you are in a watershed,” stated Judith Walker. “The four local governments in the Comox Valley are striving for consistent application of outcome-oriented actions.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “The City of Parksville recognizes the importance of sharing a vision in order to get things done; and commends the Symposium organizers for recognizing the power of partnership and collaboration,” stated Mayor Ed Mayne when he welcomed delegates to Parksville (April 2019)


“We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as where water is going to be going over the coming years. We have to start turning this situation around NOW. Not in 5 years. Not in 10 years. It needs to start today. We need to start making things better,” stated Mayor Ed Mayne. “Operation of the Englishman River Water Service is guided by the mission statement which reads: An environmentally sensitive use of water to improve fish habitat and domestic water supply. At a time when the climate is changing, it is a delicate balancing act to achieve both outcomes when summers are getting longer and much drier.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “We like to engage streamkeeper groups to give them the knowledge to begin asking the tough questions of the people who regulate and look after their communities and their watersheds,” stated Richard Boase, Water Stewardship Symposium Series Moderator, when he shared his local government perspective on the value of citizen science to launch the Day One program at the Symposium (April 2019)


“In Metro Vancouver, groups such as the North Shore Streamkeepers (NSSK) are making a difference. NSSK collaboration with the District of North Vancouver underpins a water quality monitoring program. The District purchased state-of-the-art equipment and trained 10 volunteers who conduct sampling close to their neighbourhood,” stated Richard Boase. “Monitoring sites are located at strategic locations. Streamkeepers are collecting data and bringing it back to the District to look at and store in our database.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “Engagement of community through stewardship is a credible formula to be encouraged and mainstreamed at every opportunity,” stated Kim Stephens when he explained how the symposium program built on Nanaimo 2018 takeaways


Collaboration, teamwork and a recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is the energy that stokes creativity and determination. When this combination of citizen talent is aligned with a local government that is both visionary and focused, outstanding achievements are not only possible, but realistic. “Expressed as a formula, Community Empowerment + Sustainable Partnerships with Local Government = Foundation Piece for Restorative Development,” stated Kim Stephens. “An informed stewardship sector is a catalyst for action.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “Dear rain, may you fall in abundance, but not in excess. Wet the ground, water the trees, and continue throughout the seasons – preferably at night, while I sleep,” stated Paul Chapman in setting a humourous tone in the opening module of the Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (April 2019)


“Galvanized by what they learned at the Nanaimo 2018 Symposium, a diverse group of stewardship groups out to do the hard work to become another collaboration success story,” stated Paul Chapman. “The time was right – a civic election was on the horizon, and the energy of the symposium was sparking ideas. We gathered as a group of like-minded individuals, and began to plan. out to do the hard work to become another collaboration success story,” stated Paul Chapman. “Branding is very important. And so, we came up with the Nanaimo Watershed Health Community of Practice as the name of the initiative.”

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