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2020 Virtual Water Stewardship Symposium

WATER, PLACE & RECONCILIATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Implementing Actionable Visions – Are you curious to learn what it means to collaborate to ‘stitch together altered landscapes’, and thus improve where we live? (Announcement #6 in March 2020 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“I am fond of the saying: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. This comes from the hiking world but is applicable to many aspects of life and to the unique challenges of adaptation in the face of climate instability,” stated Paul Chapman. “The truth of this adage is apparent when we come together to learn from each other’s water stewardship efforts, glean new ideas to take home from our gatherings and modify and apply in our home watersheds. Comox Valley 2020 promises new opportunities to build our community of stewardship.”

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A ‘ONCE IN A GENERATION’ WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: “The International Year of the Salmon program has the potential to be a game-changer. It is not just about the fish; it is about humankind creating sustainable landscapes for people and salmon,” say Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski, the federal-provincial science duo who will inform, educate and engage participants in the finale module of Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (Announcement #5 in February 2020 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


“From an International Year of the Salmon perspective, large efforts of a very large mass of people around the rims of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and likely Arctic oceans will need to ‘come together’ for any real change to occur. From this perspective the requirement in an increasingly interconnected world is closer to ‘humankind’ than to a few of us in the local community. That said, it’s the sum of us in local communities that will move this closer to a humankind undertaking,” stated Kim Hyatt.

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CONTENT FOR 3RD ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: A series of articles previewed the seven modules that would have comprised a 2-day “Comox Valley 2020 Symposium on Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” (HISTORICAL NOTE: originally scheduled for April, the 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)


Comox Valley 2020 is the third in a series on water stewardship in a changing climate. The Symposia Series is a building blocks process. Each builds on the last and points the way to the next. “Designed to paint a picture of the 2-day Comox Valley 2020 Symposium, a series of articles published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability during the period November 2019 through April 2020 delves into the details of the cascading program. The series is designed to inform and educate the reader about what to expect in individual program modules,” stated Kim Stephens.

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IMPROVING THE PROCESS OF IMPROVING PLACES: Should Storm Cunningham’s RECONOMICS be mandatory reading for Mayors, Chief Administrative Officers & Directors of Planning in cities and regions?


“I’ve spent the past 20 years leading workshops, keynoting summits and consulting in planning sessions at urban and rural places worldwide. All were focused on some aspect of creating revitalization or resilience.Most of those events had other speakers who recounted their on-the-ground efforts and lessons learned. I’ve thus spent the past two decades researching commonalities: what’s usually present in the successes, and what’s usually missing in the failures? I’ve boiled it down to six elements. Each of them individually increases the likelihood of success,” explained Storm Cunningham.

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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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