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Vancouver Island Water

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BLUE ECOLOGY IS A PATHWAY TO WATER RECONCILIATION: “It is not about technical data. It is not about numbers. It is about connection, it is about perspective, it is about that spiritual understanding and how things are connected. Indigenous knowledge is a sense, a feeling, an appreciation for that connection,” stated Brian Carruthers in the Watershed Moments 2023 documentary video


“When I think about the experience in the Cowichan, in many ways the region is still in the theoretical stage in terms of weaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science. We created the framework for that to happen. The foundation for interweaving in the Cowichan region is really with the Cowichan Tribes. Everything the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has done has been shoulder to shoulder with them. The framework is in place and the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection service exists. However, a reality is that things do take time,” stated Brian Carruthers.

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PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY PASSES ECOLOGICAL ACOUNTING BATON TO VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY: “I just wish that partnerships like this existed among all research projects. Unfortunately, they do not,” stated Graham Sakaki, Regional Research Institute Manager


“There are lots of partnerships that exist for selfish reasons. But the EAP Partnership is selfless, and from all angles. It is a leap of faith for member local governments. Partnership for Water Sustainability commitment to passing the baton is unwavering. The EAP Partnership was set up in a really unique, really valuable and viable way right from the beginning. The Partnership for Water Sustainability made the connections to the three local governments. Vancouver Island University, as a smaller university, is very focused on applied research and community engagement. This is a good fit for the EAP mission,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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MOVING TOWARDS WATER BALANCE: “Budgets can be aligned with best practices, ecological know-how and boots in the stream to steward the critical infrastructure that is our watersheds,” stated Paul Chapman, Executive Director, Nanaimo & Area Land Trust


“Our discussions lead to an expanded common vocabulary. Sustainable Service Delivery, Eco-Assets and Eco-Asset Management, the Ecological Accounting Process, Municipal Natural Asset Inventory, Riparian Deficit, and watershed stewardship are some of the words in our new common tongue. The rabid environmentalist, the cold-hearted accountant and the aloof engineer could come together and focus on a common goal – Water Balance. At a very key level, it is about our relationship with water and with each other. We design and build our communities based on our relationship to water,” stated Paul Chapman.

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MOVING TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE COMOX VALLEY: “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery is much more than setting some money aside for infrastructure replacement. It must be a comprehensive and integrated approach that links the past, present and future,” stated Geoff Garbutt, City of Manager, City of Courtenay


“In my mind, the phrase Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery is a euphemism for make the right decisions, think about the future, and then take action. It has got to evolve because the future is NOT the past. We also need to adapt moving forward. So, that means Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery has got to reflect where the community is going as well. If you are only going to make decisions that maintain your assets as they are, that is insufficient. The process needs to evolve to meet the community’s changing needs,” stated Geoff Garbutt.

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COMMITMENT TO A CAREER IN ONE PLACE: “Philosophically the Official Community Plan is very important to me. It ties together where Courtenay is going. We are on a new path,” stated Nancy Gothard, Manager of Community and Sustainability Planning with the City of Courtenay


“My commitment is to the community that I love and so my career strategy has been different. It has meant I may not grow as quickly as I could, but in the passage of time I feel rewarded for staying with one organization. We are currently experiencing rapid change in our organization and priorities. With all this change there is a need for institutional memory to provide stability, insight, and rapid response to these new opportunities. Now that I have evolved into a more senior role, I feel the strategy of commitment and patience is allowing me to contribute more decisively and effectively,” stated Nancy Gothard.

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SHELLY CREEK PARK IN PARKSVILLE IS A LIVING LABATORY: “Coastal Cutthroat Trout populations on Vancouver Island will perish unless there is ‘rainwater balance’ as watersheds are developed. The message for local governments is… GIVE STREAMS SPACE TO LIVE,” Peter Law, Past-President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES)


“Shelley Creek is typical of small streams on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Of the 5.5 km channel length, a mere 300m exists in its natural state. And this is only because the City of Parksville created an enhanced riparian zone for park purposes when the surrounding area was subdivided in 1998. We wanted to understand what factors influence the movement of resident cutthroat trout over their life history in Shelly Creek. We investigated how a small population of resident fish survives in a stream that undergoes significant changes to water flows over the seasons,” stated Peter Law.

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COMOX IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION FOR ITS WATER BALANCE APPROACH TO LAND DEVELOPMENT: “Opening minds to accept changes in practice is challenging, especially when there is no direct regulatory or prescriptive requirement at the provincial level,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Director of Operations with the Town of Comox


The Town pf Comox had to re-invent land development practices. “I am proud of what the Town has accomplished over the past decade. It took hard work though. Now that the Northeast Comox rainwater management plan is in place, water balance modeling is a requirement, and supporting bylaws help us regulate what developers must do on the ground. All in all, it has been such a huge step for the Town to get to where we have arrived at. The situation called for an educational process to bridge a gap in understanding in the engineering community,” stated Shelley Ashfield.

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WHAT DOES WATER RECONCILIATION LOOK LIKE: “First Nations talk about the responsibility for care of the land being passed on from one generation to the next. They have been much more effective than us in having the community understand their role in stewardship and why that matters,” stated Richard Boase, facilitator for the Watershed Moments Symposia Series and Blue Ecology Seminar Series


“We have landed at the crux of two of the most important issues facing Canadians – relationships with First Nations and relationships with water – in an era when we must also adapt to a changing climate. Communities have a once in a generation opportunity to get our relationships with both right, and then start back down the river of time – this time together. To move this bold idea forward, the Watershed Moments Team is showcasing the Blue Ecology vision for interweaving Western science and Indigenous knowledge,” stated Richard Boase.

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SALMON-SAFE IN THE TOWN OF VIEW ROYAL: “This is a joyful moment. It’s the reason we have the Salmon-Safe program ― to encourage land and water stewardship that help wild salmon thrive,” said Theresa Fresco, program manager at Fraser Basin Council


“The View Royal site that BC Transit is redeveloping was previously an old, degraded industrial property with a badly damaged waterway. The stream restoration, and now the fish, show that sound management and community stewardship can have amazing results,” stated Theresa Fresco. The new stream has riffles and pools, as well as purposely placed rocks, logs and weirs that break up the water flow, introduce oxygen to the water, and reduce stream bank erosion. The stream has also created a wildlife corridor connecting to the forest along Craigflower Creek.

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RAISING WATER BALANCE AWARENESS: “Community-based science should be used to inform science models and planning. The Salt Spring Island Water Preservation Society is making a successful step in that direction,” states Dr. John Millson


“The Salt Spring Island Freshwater Catalogue Project that I am leading is providing field data for ground-truthing, as I call it, for some of the community-based science work that we are doing to support the work by the Islands Trust and Capital Regional District. The data can help us understand water quantity variability and water balance for an island. It all hangs together and dovetails nicely in a multi-threaded, decision-making process. Water quantity is such a big deal. Why is that? Well, islands only have rainwater for water supply,” stated John Millson.

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