Ian Graeme

    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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    BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: It is a story of local government champions and community leaders who share a vision, embrace shared responsibility, and are bringing Bowker Creek back to life.

    Michael Lewis, a best-selling American author, provides a perspective which helps to explain why the Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan is a mission for everyone who has embraced shared responsibility: “It is a ‘calling’. They do not need other motivations when what they do is the right thing to do. We need to honour these people. We would tease more out of the population if we created a culture of recognition around what it means to embrace shared responsibility,” stated Michael Lewis.

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    BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “It is exciting. Who gets to have a job where part of your job is to try and figure out how to get a creek out of pipes? Who gets to do that? Not too many! I feel so fortunate, and to be able to play a leadership role,” stated Jody Watson, Past-Chair (2005-2018) of the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative

    “The BCI is more than the people sitting around the BCI table. They are representatives of an extensive network that includes three Councils, every department, 11 community associations, and the CRD too. This network is a true community-driven collaboration made up of people with a lot of heart, grit, commitment, and dedication. They are dedicated to achieving the Bowker Blueprint vision. That is what makes it the best. We are watching it implement organically and operationally. We can be proud of our accomplishments. We have done good. We have done good,” stated Jody Watson.

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    BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “I used to ride my bicycle to school and cross Bowker Creek twice a day on Richmond road. In 1971 or 1972, the City of Victoria culverted that section of the creek. Here we are 50 years later, and we have this game-changing daylighting feasibility study. Within the next decade, I am hoping to see that same culvert removed. It is now mission possible,” stated Ian Graeme, founder of the Friends of Bowker Creek

    “Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria have all issued proclamations supporting the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This is a rallying cry to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems caused by current and past generations. The Bowker Blueprint is a great example of something that is tangible and aligns with the overarching policy commitment in the municipal proclamations. We need agility because we do not have the time and resources. Given the challenges posed by the issues of the day, we need to move on opportunities very quickly,” stated Ian Graeme.

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    BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “My interest is community organizing, taking care of volunteers, and empowering working groups. You trust people because their hearts are in the right place. Find out who can work together. Let them do it their own way and develop their own roots,” stated Soren Henrich, Chair of Friends of Bower Creek society, when describing his vision for community-based action

    “My involvement in the Bowker Creek Initiative began as a representative of a neighbourhood association. With re-incorporation of the Friends of Bowker, our structure includes five working groups, and we are connected to 11 neighbourhood groups. The broad nature of this representation raises an obvious question: Who is the community voice on the steering committee? The FoBC is already the de facto representative. A reasonable and logical next step would be to formalize this role,” stated Soren Henrich.

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