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2020 Virtual Water Stewardship Symposium

STITCHING TOGETHER AN ALTERED LANDSCAPE: “An ‘Actionable Vision’ translates good intentions into practices on the ground. It is driven by leadership that mobilizes people and partnerships, a commitment to ongoing learning and innovation, and a budget to back it up,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (Announcement #4 in February 2020 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“Water-centric programs underway in the Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Capital regions are foundation pieces for stitching together an altered landscape. Are you aware of the scope, scale and interplay of an array of initiatives and programs underway on Vancouver Island? Do you wonder whether and how these initiatives and programs are making a difference? Join us for a facilitated panel conversation complete with audience interaction segments. An inter-regional team will share and reflect on successes, challenges and lessons learned over the past decade in their regions,” stated Kim Stephens.

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NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS & SERVICES: “MNAI and EAP – it is great that we have two initiatives in British Columbia that focus on the role of natural assets in supporting quality of life and property enjoyment,” stated Emanuel Machado, CAO, Town of Gibsons (Announcement #3 in January 2020 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“Ecological systems play a fundamental role in a local government’s ability to deliver services to its residents and businesses. 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,” stated Emanuel Machado.

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RE-CAP AND REFLECTIONS ON PARKSVILLE 2019 SYMPOSIUM: The ‘story behind the story’ elaborates on how delegates coalesced around the idea of an actionable vision for improving where we live (released in October 2019)


“The Vancouver Island symposium on water stewardship was so inspiring and informative. It was a wonderful experience. I left Parksville feeling hopeful,” stated Councillor Laura Dupont, City of Port Coquitlam. Close to 200 delegates came from far and wide. A survey of delegates provided both a remarkable quantitative measure and gratifying qualitative feedback on how well Parksville 2019 had achieved program objectives and desired outcomes.

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SYNOPSIS DOCUMENT RELEASED AT NANAIMO 2018 SYMPOSIUM: A key message about the power of collaboration – “Changing the way we do business” in urban watersheds requires that local governments partner with the stewardship sector to “get it right”


Anecdotal evidence suggests a groundswell of heightened awareness of the watershed context for ‘the creek that flows through my backyard’. “Within our growing urban areas, as our community becomes more diverse, being able to reconnect through nature offers the chance to reconnect with each other. By working to restore our urban watercourses, new and old neighbours are building connections between our natural spaces that will lead to a stronger sense of stewardship in future,” stated Rob Lawrance.

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BC’S FIRST ASSET MANAGEMENT BYLAW: “A strong corporate culture creates the foundation for asset management that achieves the goals of Sustainable Service Delivery,” states CAO David Allen, City of Courtenay


“The City of Courtenay previously adopted an asset management policy in 2015. The bylaw takes the policy one step further, and formally stipulates that decisions on the renewal, upgrade, and acquisition of the City’s assets must consider the full cost throughout the expected lifespan of the asset. As infrastructure ages, maintenance costs typically increase. And failure to maintain assets can dramatically shorten their lifespans, potentially resulting in the need for costly upgrades,” stated David Allen.

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WHOLE-SYSTEM THINKING & ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT: “The only way to approach such a period — where uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds – is not to predict, but to act inventively and exuberantly in diverse, adventures in living and experiment,” stated British Columbia’s Buzz Holling (1930-2019), one of the world’s leading ecologists


Buzz Holling had profound and far-reaching influence during his lifetime, having made major contributions to the theory of predation, the concept of ecological resilience, the concept of panarchy, and adaptive management. “The only way to approach such a period — where uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds – is not to predict, but to act inventively and exuberantly in diverse, adventures in living and experiment,” said Buzz Holling.

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COMOX VALLEY CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP: “One common forum to promote and advocate for innovative local government policies, strategies and initiatives that support transformative change towards environmental sustainability,” wrote David Stapley and Tim Ennis (Announcement #2 in November 2019 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“The Comox Valley conservation and stewardship (ENGO) sector operates in a space outside of government and industry that is firmly rooted in the social fabric of the community and is deeply connected to the land and waters of the Comox Valley through ‘boots on the ground’ experience,” stated David Stapley. “The Comox Valley experience highlights a coordinated approach by the ENGO sector under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (CVCP) that brings together over 20 local ENGO and ratepayers associations into one common forum.”

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ORIGINAL VISION FOR 3RD ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: Scheduled for April, the 2-day “Comox Valley 2020 Symposium on Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” as originally planned was the outcome of collaboration involving three non-government organizations that share a vision for reconnecting hydrology and ecology – the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT), the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, and the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. (HISTORICAL NOTE: Initially postponed to October due to the COVID 19 pandemic, a public health order limiting mass gatherings resulted in the symposium being re-imagined as the virtual Video Trilogy Series for delivery via YouTube)


“The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend Comox Valley 2020,” urges John Finnie, Past-Chair, Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate. “The series is a building blocks process: Nanaimo in 2018; Parksville in 2019; and next, the Comox Valley in 2020. Each event builds on the last and points the way to the next.”

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DOWNLOAD THE PRE-PANDEMIC PROGRAM BROCHURE for “Comox Valley 2020: Third Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate –– Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” (HISTORICAL NOTE: originally scheduled for April, the 2-day symposium was initially postponed to October due to the COVID 19 pandemic, before being re-imagined as the virtual Video Trilogy Series for delivery via YouTube)


“In October 2020, the third in the series will further open eyes and minds as to ‘what can be’ – because the Comox Valley has emerged as an incubator region for provincially significant precedents. Collaboration, across sectors and among rightsholders and stakeholders, is essential in order for communities to: mobilize and respond effectively to the present climate emergency; reconnect hydrology and ecology; and demonstrate that restorative land development is attainable,” states Kim Stephens.

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THIRD ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: An inter-regional perspective on why the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is viewed as an incubator region in British Columbia for collaboration precedents (Announcement #1in November 2019 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“Our model as a conservation partnership is very unique in British Columbia,” states Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. “There are at least six other conservation partnerships, but to the best of my knowledge we are the only one that focuses on local government. The Comox Valley Conservation Partnership brings together 23 different local groups and associations in one common forum to work proactively with local governments.”

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