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BC Water Sustainability Action Plan

    GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “One can have implementation without integration, but implementation will likely be ineffective without integration,” stated Tim Pringle, Past-President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, when he explained the process for designing with nature in a systems context


    “The purpose of the IREI is to learn and apply what ‘designing with nature’ looks like in practice. Integration means a holistic approach to use and conservation of land and water. The process involves drilling down from the vision and goals of a regional plan to explore the ‘how-to’ details of implementation and integration. It encompasses physical infrastructure, the built environment, and the ecosystems within which we work and recreate. And it includes all practitioners whose profession, work, volunteer role or responsibility as a landowner affects land and water sustainability.”

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    THE TALE OF ONE URBAN CREEK ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “This Shelly Creek art exhibit is such a unique project as we look at these environmental conversations through artists’ lenses and what happens is a very dynamic and exciting experience,” stated Jennifer Bate, Executive Director of the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville (July 2022)


    Shelly Creek is a tributary of the Englishman River, a major watershed system on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Shelly Creek is important to salmonids. In 1999 the Englishman River was first declared to be one of the most endangered rivers in BC. Extinction of the fisheries resource was viewed as a very real possibility. “With 8 local artists collaborating on this singular exhibit, we are then able to have an important conversation about Shelly Creek, water conservation, and rain gardens through an artist lens. We are privileged to have the 8 artists come together for a single purpose but with 8 very different art mediums,” stated Jennifer Bate.

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    FLASHBACK TO 2013: “Collaboration among Vancouver Island local governments, and with Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities, has grown steadily since 2007. The Inter-Regional Educational Initiative provides a framework for consistent application of tools and understanding on both sides of the Georgia Basin. Everyone benefits from sharing information and experiences,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability


    “Collaboration is the pathway to a consistent approach to implementation and integration of water sustainability and green infrastructure policies and practices within and between regions. Yet there is no formal mechanism to enable or facilitate inter-regional collaboration. The Partnership fills this gap. At the heart of the IREI is ‘Beyond the Guidebook’, an ongoing initiative to provide local governments with the tools and understanding necessary to integrate the Site with the Watershed and the Stream. The IREI will help all local governments bridge the ‘implementation and integration’ gap,” stated Kim Stephens

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    BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “In the process of completing the Ecological Accounting Process for the Millstone River, everyone became versed in the common language of natural assets and can now bring that forward in the ongoing collaborative work ahead,” stated Julie Pisani, Program Coordinator for the Nanaimo region’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program


    “The Millstone River EAP project brought together municipal and regional interests, community stewardship sector perspectives and academic research capabilities. Not only were we able to assign a proxy value to the riparian corridor land area, but we also connected this to an understanding of the integrity of its current condition — and compared a riparian deficit to an infrastructure deficit / liability. This is a powerful communication tool to elevate the importance of local policies and investment to protect and restore riparian areas for the benefit of our communities,” stated Julie Pisani.

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    SCIENCE OF LAND USE CHANGE AND STREAM SYSTEM INTEGRITY: “Twenty years after release of BC’s Stormwater Planning Guidebook, how water gets to a stream and how long it takes, is still not widely understood. Parksville’s Shelly Creek is an ongoing test case for the Water Balance Methodology to raise awareness of what needs to be done to reconnect hydrology and stream ecology,” stated Peter Law, Vice-President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (June 2022)


    “Small streams are now going dry and have zero levels of riparian protection, mostly because in the early days of streamside protection they weren’t seen as worthy of protection. We need more than a setback to protect aquatic habitat. The science shows that communities also need to tackle what is happening on the land that drains to streams. To reach consensus on a shared vision of what is desirable and achievable for watershed protection or restoration, people need a picture of what a stream corridor could and/or should look like. Often, the visioning process boils down to whether or not a stream corridor will have a functioning aquatic ecosystem,” stated Peter Law.

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    ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY LEADER AS CATALYST: “Effective community engagement depends on involving people in decisions, sharing responsibility, and making them more accountable. This includes engaging generations, old and new. Our connection to the past should inform the future,” stated Ian Graeme, community leader and founder, Friends of Bowker Creek Society


    “In 1995, I got involved in a Local Area Plan that was under development in Saanich; and started advocating for changes in watershed and stream protection policies. To draw attention to the need for action, I organized a series of community walks and developed a ‘watershed tour’ slideshow and took it around the community. When we incorporated the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, the mid 1990s was a time of a greenways movement in BC. This became one of our four goals: create a Bowker greenway to increase access to the creek. If more people became familiar with the creek, we believed, public interest would drive creek restoration,” stated Ian Graeme.

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    NANAIMO REGION’S DRINKING WATER & WATERSHED PROTECTION PROGRAM (DWWP): “Because Board members are well-educated about the issues, we can provide informed and strong leadership that allows staff to achieve program objectives. We see the fruits of collaboration that brings people together at the same table to move processes forward,” stated Director Ben Geselbracht, Regional District of Nanaimo (March 2022)


    “Prior to becoming a member of the Regional Board, I was well aware of the DWWP program and that the watershed is a fundamental management unit. The effectiveness of the community outreach by the team led by Julie Pisani made the DWWP a visible entity in the community. When I joined the Board, my focus was on updating the DWWP and making it a Strategic Plan priority. Because the updating and educational process for DWWP Action Plan 2.0 was so thorough, the entire Board had a clear understanding of why it was important and necessary,” stated Ben Geselbracht.

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    ROLE OF THE MUNICIPAL CHAMPION AS THE INTERPRETER: “With the turnover in municipal staff, I have become the municipal champion for Bowker Creek. I remind colleagues of the municipal policies and that the Blueprint is a Council-endorsed document,” stated Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich (February 2022)


    “Every time I review a development for environmental impacts, we identify that it is in the Bowker watershed, and we state what the Blueprint says about the subject reach. Also, whenever the municipality undertakes capital and maintenance projects, we make sure to refer to the Blueprint and state what it says. The good thing about this role is that the more that I do it, the more other people in the organization get the picture and say ’this is the document that we are going to use for this and that purpose’. And when it comes to interpreting the document, other staff come to me,” stated Adriane Pollard.

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    A BEACON OF INSPIRATION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “The Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational commitment by so many players to implement the 100-year action plan is remarkable and precedent-setting. Simply put, nobody has done what the Bowker Creek Initiative has done. Success begets success. The process to operationalize the Blueprint is becoming self-fulfilling,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (March 2022)


    “After more than two decades of sustained effort by community leaders and local government champions, their shared vision to bring Bowker Creek back to life is close to becoming a reality. Recent decisions and actions have game-changing implications. In short, the Bowker vision is on the cusp of being a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all of these reasons, the Bowker Blueprint process is a beacon of inspiration. A thread that weaves through the Bowker storyline is the right people in the right place at the right time, over time.” stated Kim Stephens.

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    ORAL HISTORY EXTENDS THE PERIOD OF RECORD AND OUR UNDERSTANDING: “Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy, which emerged from interweaving First Nations and Western thought. It is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge.” – Michael Blackstock


    “In my mind, traditional knowledge and western science are just different ways of recording, or documenting, and communicating the same information. I believe there is an analogy between Indigenous oral history, and a statistical approach called Bayesian analysis,” stated Neil Goeller. “We are lucky when we have 60 years of reliable records, possibly extending out to 100-plus years. When I reflect on the short-term context for hydrometric data collection in BC, there is no doubt in my mind that Indigenous knowledge would expand our horizon and help us make sense of the numbers in a larger context.”

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