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.
WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: We set out to bring together a diverse and balanced audience at ‘Parksville 2019’. And we succeeded. We informed. We educated. We inspired. The bar is now raised even higher for ‘Comox Valley 2020’, the third in the Vancouver Island Symposia Series.
Close to 200 delegates came from far and wide to participate in the Parksville 2019 Symposium, the second in the symposia series. “Thank you so much for the immense amount of work you do to protect ecosystem services and teach us all about taking responsibility. 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.
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.”
WATER STEWARDSHIP & RESTORATIVE DEVELOPMENT IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: Unifying theme for Vancouver Island Symposia Series is the power of local government collaboration with the stewardship sector
“A goal of restorative land development would be to restore the integrity of the natural water balance. If this work is done right, it should be possible to: first, halt ecosystem decline; and after that, bend the trend-line in an upwards direction,” states Paul Chapman. “Guided by a whole-system, water balance approach, restorative land development would reconnect hydrology and ecology. Connecting dots, then, a key message is that restorative land development results in sustainable stream restoration.”
PARKSVILLE 2019: ‘Convening for Action’ symposium started strong with Dave Derrick stream restoration workshop and walkabout, and finished strong with Storm Cunningham presentation on restorative development; remarkable 40% response rate by delegates confirmed that the key educational objectives were fulfilled
Attract an audience balanced across sectors. Demonstrate the power of collaboration between the stewardship sector and local governments. Create an environment for sharing and cross-fertilizing experiences. Those were the objectives. “I just wanted to say thanks to you and everyone behind the great symposium! Great job!! It was an exciting few days, and I left feeling inspired and even somewhat empowered about finding ways to protect water. The importance of ecological services really hit home for me. There is lots of great work happening out there – thanks to all the organizers for bringing it all together,” said Laura Beckett,
NANAIMO 2018: “The vision for restorative development is an idea whose time has come – and a set of videos uploaded to YouTube provide a permanent record of this watershed moment,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Nanaimo 2018 Symposium Organizing Committee
“The program was structured as three modules to enable the audience to have an informed conversation,” stated John Finnie. “Context is everything. Hence, two co-keynote presentations in Module A set the context and primed participants for a town-hall sharing and learning session in Module B about restorative development. In the afternoon, a set of four reflective presentations introduced building blocks for achieving Sustainable Watershed Systems.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”