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Storm Cunningham

    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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    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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    CAVI-CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “In 2015, with past successes as a foundation and some fresh ideas to guide the way forward, the scope of CAVI as a regional initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC was redefined,” stated John Finnie, Past-Chair


    “It started with a conversation. In 2005 a group of similar thinking individuals, recognizing a need to balance economy and ecology with the increasing settlement on Vancouver Island, and the critical importance of water in that equation, gathered in Parksville to have a conversation about water sustainability on Vancouver Island. Within a year, that initial meeting evolved into a movement, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island – Leadership for Water Sustainability, known widely by the acronym CAVI,” stated John Finnie.

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    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.

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    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.”

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    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,

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    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.”

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    Parksville 2019 on YouTube > Beacons of Hope on Vancouver Island – “Bowker and Brooklyn creek restoration success stories are provincially significant precedents. Inspirational in scope, each has a long history,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, in his context presentation for the afternoon session on Day Two of the Symposium (April 2019)


    “Each demonstrates how local government partnerships with stewardship groups can be transformational and ‘improve where we live’. These precedents are beacons of hope,” stated Kim Stephens. Stewardship operates under a different dynamic than the private sector or government. Stewards are drawn together for a common cause, like-minded individuals with a vision for the greater good. This purpose is not to be found in the policy manuals of government, nor in regulations or legislation. Rather, it is built upon an enthusiastic personal commitment and passion by a band of individuals to make a difference.

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    Parksville 2019 on YouTube > Bowker Creek Daylighting in the Capital Regional District – “We are changing the way we develop land by attempting to re-engineer the hydrological function back into our urban landscape. We are, in some ways, cultivating a new land ethic,” stated Jody Watson, Past-Chair, Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (April 2019)


    Bowker Creek flows through three municipalities: Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay. Degraded over generations, and buried for much of its length, Bowker restoration demonstrates how a good strategy is the path to success. The Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative serves as a how-to-guide for a ‘top-down & bottom-up’ approach. Connect with the community and get the vision right. “The multi-jurisdictional nature of our watersheds requires the collective commitment of local and senior government agencies, First Nations, and communities to improve the health of our watersheds,” stated Jody Watson.

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    Parksville 2019 on YouTube > Brooklyn Creek Enhancement in the Town of Comox – “My story is both a personal and collective journey in keeping with the partnership theme; and ultimately building and nurturing relationships along the way,” stated Al Fraser, Superintendent of Parks (April 2019)


    Teamwork for the common good is a powerful and often transformative experience, particularly when a longer term vision for a local creekshed engages multiple interests, disciplines and local government. Collaboration taps into the passion and ingenuity of volunteers who are driven by commitment. Al Fraser provided context for the Comox journey, with a focus on partnerships. “When I look at the definition of partnership, and put it into the context of how it applies to the Brooklyn Creek storyline, the word that resonates most with me is participation.”

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