Water-Centric Planning

Plan with a view to water – whether for a single site, a region or the entire province. Choose to live water smart. Prepare communities for a changing climate. What happens on the land matters – therefore, take into account potential impacts of land use and community design decisions on watershed function. Look at water through different lenses. When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change.

Latest Posts

WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: The Partnership’s Water-Centric Planning community-of-interest provides a legacy record for preserving stories about “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” and adapting to a changing climate

“The partnership umbrella provided by the Water Sustainability Action Plan has allowed the Province to leverage partnerships to greatly enhance the profile and resulting impact of Living Water Smart. In effect, the Action Plan partners are functioning as the on-the-ground Living Water Smart implementation arm with local government, allowing my team to focus on legislative reform. Living Water Smart comprises 45 commitments grouped into five themes. The Action Plan has played a key delivery role in two of the five,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: Historical context for evolving from a community-of-interest on the website to implement and mainstream “Water-Centric Planning” in British Columbia

“Originally, this COI was to be called Watershed-Based Planning for consistency with the community planning element of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. However, federal and provincial funding enabled us to broaden the scope of the COI to encompass a spectrum of perspectives, ranging from provincial watershed planning to local government community planning. This expanded scope is an ambitious undertaking. We are excited by the challenges that integration of perspectives involves,” stated Robyn Wark.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN: Metro Vancouver guidance document for a “Watershed / Landscape-based Approach to Community Planning” is the genesis for an actionable vision for water-centric planning in British Columbia

Published in March 2002 by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the “Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning” was developed by an interdisciplinary working group and is the genesis of “water-centric planning”. “An important message is that planning and implementation involves cooperation among all orders of government as well as the non-government and private sectors,” stated Erik Karlsen.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Unveiled in 2009, BC’s online Water Conservation Calculator decision support tool is a foundation piece for a long-term provincial strategy that aligned eligibility for infrastructure grant programs with Living Water Smart targets for improving water use efficiency and achieving water supply resiliency province-wide through Council or Board endorsed Water Conservation Plans

“Smaller communities often cannot allocate resources to traditional infrastructure projects or cannot budget for the development of water conservation and efficiency plans by service providers. The purpose of the Water Conservation Calculator is to illustrate how specific conservation measures yield both fiscal and physical water consumption savings. Water purveyors can use the tool to assist in presenting their conservation case to council and other decision makers,” stated Lisa Wright, Ministry of Community & Rural Development.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The more we can align local actions with provincial targets, the greater our chances of success,” said Ron Neufeld, then representing the City of Campbell River, at the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series (November 2008)

“Living Water Smart creates the opportunity/potential for real dramatic change at a local level. Good policy is knowing where the horizon is, so that you know where you want to get to. Success depends on cooperation across jurisdictional boundaries. We must hold the provincial government accountable too. They have given us the long-term vision; and we are looking to them to be accountable for the support that we now need,” stated Ron Neufeld.

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FINANCIAL VALUATION OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES AND WORTH: “As a result of alterations to the hydrology of the creekshed, the Shelly Creek ‘riparian ecosystem’ has been reduced to a number of ‘riparian zones’ as defined in regulations. We view this finding as one of the key takeaways from the Shelly Creek demonstration application of the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Chair, EAP Chair

“The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considers use and conservation of land to be equally important values. Historically, land use and property development in our communities have been given priority over ecological systems such as streams. Too often the result has been remnant ecological services that fall far short of the benefits that these natural commons can provide. The research findings suggest that the diminution of stream functions gradually will draw the attention of property owners and the community to the ‘no harm’ rule in land appraisal.,” stated Tim Pringle.

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PORTAGE INLET CUTTHROAT INITIATIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CAPITAL REGION: “PICI is a logical continuation of the stewardship approach our fishing club has taken since 2014 in volunteering to improve water quality and recreational opportunities through the Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative located in the headwaters of the Colquitz River,” explained Mick Collins, Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing Club

“With PICI we expanded the geographical scope to two entire watersheds in a three- step systematic process. First, raise seed money through an alliance of like- minded angling groups. Secondly, create a ‘consortium’ of non-profit, corporate and small business organizations to plan a comprehensive science- based program and secure grants. Thirdly, work with all levels of government towards a clear goal. In this case habitat protection and restoration for an iconic, but often neglected, species of concern, native Coastal Cutthroat Trout,” stated Mick Collins.

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AN UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCE OF A CHANGING CLIMATE: “The influence of plants has been overlooked before. This study highlights the vegetation impacts on Arctic warming under an elevated CO2 world,” said study co-author Jin-Soo Kim, a scientist at the University of Edinburgh

The Arctic is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet —and scientists still aren’t completely sure why. This is an emerging area of research, with the exact magnitude of the effects still unclear. As a result, the effect is not well-represented —if at all —in most climate models. “There’s a chance that some model projections could be underestimating future climate change, particularly in the Arctic. More research may clarify whether that’s actually the case and exactly how much plants are contributing to the warming that’s happening all over the globe,” stated Jin-Soo Kim.

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PREPARE FOR TOMORROW: “A Watershed Security Fund offers an opportunity for government to deliver effectively on multiple commitments and would provide a mechanism to integrate policy priorities at a landscape level,” states Tim Morris, Project Director, BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative

“50 years ago, BC’s political leaders took bold action to secure our farmland by creating the British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve. This act of vision and courage created a legacy of food security that still benefits British Columbians today. But securing our farmland was only half the job: just like farmland is the source of our food security, healthy watersheds are key to our water security. It’s time to take bold action once again to secure and sustain our critical fresh water sources forever,” stated Tim Morris.

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CELEBRATION OF LIVING WATER SMART, THE FIRST DECADE: “In 2008, ‘Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan’ was the Province’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments,” wrote Kim Stephens in an Op-Ed published by the Vancouver Sun in June 2018

“The hard work of hope has resulted in a policy, program and regulatory framework that enables community-based action to adapt to the New Normal. Living Water Smart successes are defined by collaboration and a ‘top-down / bottom-up’ approach. This brings together decision-makers and community advocates. The legislative piece is the Water Sustainability Act, one of several game-changers. A historic achievement, the Act recognizes the connections between land and water – what happens on the land matters,” stated Kim Stephens

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CHANGE THE WAY WE DEVELOP LAND TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES & PROTECT STREAM HEALTH IN BC: “We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward,” stated Deputy Minister Dale Wall when he announced that the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series would be proceeding in two locations (May 2008)

“We have to develop models of practice. We have to develop expertise to support The New Business As Usual. Vancouver Island is the pilot region for much of this work. The approach to practitioner education is inclusive, and supports water-centric planning and a design with nature way-of-thinking. The Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series will help facilitate inter-departmental alignment and a consistent regional approach. The City of Courtenay and Cowichan Valley Regional District are partners who are helping us pilot this work,” stated Dale Wall.

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LIVING WATER SMART: A PLAN FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY – “Living Water Smart: British Columbia’s Water Plan lays out the vision and the steps needed to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and watersheds. This plan will make B.C. a leader in water stewardship,” stated BC Environment Minister Barry Penner (June 2008)

“Living Water Smart is a blueprint for cultural, environmental, industrial, community and agricultural change that will help safeguard the province’s water resources into the future. Drawing on a variety of policy measures, including planning, regulatory change, education, and incentives like economic instruments and rewards, the plan commits to new actions and builds on existing efforts to protect and keep B.C.’s water healthy and secure. More than 40 actions and targets will keep the province’s water healthy and secure,” stated Minister Penner.

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