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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.

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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 waterbucket.ca 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: “Quantifying and valuing nature are complex tasks. Undertaking them alters our conception of nature. The University of Sheffield’s John Henneberry (1952-2021) was a source of inspiration for me when we were initially developing the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (October 2021)


“The EAP methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream system in the landscape. Over the past four years, a series of ‘big ideas’ have emerged during the 3-stage program of testing, refining and mainstreaming EAP. These big ideas are transformative in their implications for local government asset management. Each case study is a building block in a systematic process of applied research,” stated Tim Pringle. “As John Henneberry pointed out, our view of nature is biased to those aspects of it that can be measured and particularly to those that can be valued.”

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PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES ‘CALL FOR ACTION’ DURING BUDGET 2022 CONSULTATION: “BC’s groundwater licensing system is still in crisis. Experts warn of chaos and economic disruption, but say it is not too late to save the needed initiative,” wrote Andrew MacLeod in his article published by The Tyee (October 2021)


“There’s still time for the British Columbia government to save its troubled groundwater licensing system, observers and experts say, but it will require stronger commitment and action than the province has shown so far. The consequences of a failed groundwater transition — political, economic, ecological — cannot be overstated and are extremely difficult to reverse, they add. Failure would erode the public trust in the government’s ability to manage water resources and undermine the Water Sustainability Act, they also say,” wrote Andrew MacLeod.

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CALL FOR ACTION TO GET GROUNDWATER LICENSING BACK ON TRACK IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “This is the moment for leadership from the highest level to demonstrate that the provincial government is implementing the Water Sustainability Act in good faith. It is also a moment for ALL to embrace shared responsibility to ‘get it right’,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (October 2021)


“The responsibility for water needs to reside in one ministry with the mandate to require other ministries to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate. In our system of government, accountability flows through the minister. For this reason, the water champion (or water leader) can only be a cabinet minister who has the authority and accountability to make water a priority; and has a mandate from the Premier to facilitate collaboration across government. And to ensure success in carrying out the WSA mission, it is essential that the minister empower and support staff,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Many readers tell us that they are inspired by the stories that we share,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (June 2021)


“Each week, from September through June, we celebrate the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Feature stories published weekly on Waterbucket eNews constitute a legacy resource. To make them readily accessible and sharable, many of these stories are now downloadable as report-style documents. In the Living Water Smart Series, featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of helping others make a difference in the communities in which they live,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We will be successful when community development is guided by a vision that  embraces ‘design with nature’ approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes,” stated Peter Law, a Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, when he provided context for the Partnership’s Living Water Smart Series (May 2021)


“Released in 2008, Living Water Smart was the provincial government’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments. With Living Water Smart as its starting point, the Partnership has a primary goal, to build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. The Living Water Smart Series is an integral part of the knowledge-transfer process. In the Series, featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of connecting dots. The Partnership goal is to facilitate understanding of how to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate,” stated Peter Law.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Let’s move past ceremonial reconciliation, to true reconciliation, validating Indigenous wisdom,” stated Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar and founder of the Blue Ecology Institute (October 2021)


“Interweaving is not integration, just as equality is not about assimilation and creativity is not empirical. Interweaving is collaborative and incremental rather than a revolutionary process. Collaborators identify packets of knowledge that would benefit from the interweaving process. Blue Ecology is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge. There is a humility component to Water Reconciliation and that can be hard for both sides when we are building a bridge to connect each other,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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GROUNDWATER LICENSING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA IS A CRISIS IN THE MAKING: “People have been issuing warnings about this for several years, but a legislature committee heard first-hand last week about how bad it could get,” wrote columnist Les Leyne in his article published by the Victoria Times Colonist (October 2021)


“There was a pivotal moment in B.C.’s resource management history about five years ago when the Water Sustainability Act was passed. The only problem was that scarcely anyone paid any attention to it. Particularly the thousands of farmers, businesses and entities in rural B.C. who use well water and have been doing so for years. That collective indifference and the government’s slow acknowledgment of it is about to hit a lot harder than the new law ever did,” stated Les Leyne.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Commit $30 million annually over a 10-year period – to deal with both the fallout of a less-than-successful launch of the groundwater licensing system AND the requirements necessary to meet the objectives of the Water Sustainability Act,” stated Ted van der Gulik in his presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Government Finance (September 30, 2021)


“I am an urban MLA. I have learned a lot more about water (through the Budget 2022 consultation process) than I ever knew before. Ted van der Gulik’s expertise, his passion, and his knowledge make him a powerful voice. He has managed to scare me about what needs to be done! I am pretty sure that what Ted has raised will be a big part of our (committee) conversations in terms of the message that we want to give to the legislature. It was a great presentation to end on (after 300 presentations in 5 locations around BC),” stated Janet Routledge, Committee Chair.

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BUDGET CONSULTATION 2022: Partnership for Water Sustainability issues a “Call for Action” by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to rectify a chaotic situation, provide a dedicated budget, and get groundwater licensing implementation back on track in British Columbia (October 2021)


“With this year’s economic losses and social trauma of raging forest fires throughout the province, climate change has certainly become a top-of-mind issue for many British Columbians. The Partnership believes that $30 million for each of the next 10 years dedicated to achieving the objectives of the Water Sustainability Act is key to building provincial resilience in the face of climate change impacts already upon us and – with certainty – to increase in the future,” stated Ted van der Gulik in laying out a How-to-Framework for action,

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Inspired by Buzz Holling, the Stormwater Planning Guidebook established an international precedent for application of an adaptive management approach in the local government setting. The Guidebook developed the ADAPT guiding principles for reconnecting hydrology and stream ecology through use of Water Balance performance targets,” stated Kim Stephens in the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s tribute to the late Buzz Holling (1930-2019)


Buzz Holling had profound and far-reaching influence during his lifetime, having made major contributions to the theory of predation, the concept of ecological resilience, the concept of panarchy, and adaptive management. “The only way to approach such a period — where uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds – is not to predict, but to act inventively and exuberantly in diverse, adventures in living and experiment,” said Buzz Holling. One of his talents was his ability to bring people together to understand, assess and act on new solutions to complex problems of people and nature.

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