Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest


Note to Reader:

The dropdowns comprise a Table of Contents for the Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest under these five themes – Living Water Smart, Understanding Water Resources, Managing Demand, Protecting Ecology and Ecology, and Watershed Planning.

About Water-Centric Planning

Kim-Stephens_Nanaimo3_Mar2015_120p“Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of water-centric planning is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed,” Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“A water-centric approach puts water stewardship and sustainability front and centre on the agenda of comprehensive land use, development, or resource planning initiatives. Water-centric planning considers the amount of water available, the amount of water needed, innovative efficiencystrategies, the quality of water leaving an area, how rain and snow water are managed, and the impact on the natural environment,” continues Erik Karlsen, a member of the team that created the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia in 2003. Erik Karlsen was Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission from 2005 through 2010.

“Implementation of water-centric strategies and solutions ultimately requires integration of missions, mandates and accountabilities of participating agencies,” concludes Erik Karlsen.

Why a Community-of-Interest (COI)

“The notion of a web-based Community-of-Interest (COI) has been developed to respond to the needs of organizational clusters which evolve to discuss and communicate ideas around a specific issue. The Waterbucket Website comprises a set of COIs that include each element of fhe Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,” continues Mike Tanner, Waterbucket Chair.

Platform Design

“Each COI is a self-managing website that provides easy access to a variety of information modules developed within the COI structure. This dynamic information source is developed on a collaborative, non-proprietary platform that allows emerging communities to leverage the investment of existing partners and use communication and web development resources effectively,” continues Mike Tanner.

“To enable users to customize their home pages by means of direct links, the Waterbucket Website resides on a state-of-the-art RSS (Real Simple Syndication) platform. In other words, content can be provided by a live feed so that users will receive fresh information with each visit. This capability will enable users to take control of the flow of information, and add new layers of personalization and social sharing.”

Historical Context

The Water-Centric Planning COI was developed so that it would serve as the communication vehicle for the British Columbia Water-Centric Working Group, under the umbrella of the original Water Sustainability Committee (2002 – 2010) of the BC Water & Waste Association.

Because the COI represented a coming together of a spectrum of perspectives, the original working group was co-chaired by local government and provincial representatives, namely: Robyn Wark (formerly of the City of Burnaby); and John Arber of the Water Stewardship Division of the MInistry of Environment.

COI Vision: a Water-Centric Planning Magazine

The Waterbucket Website is designed in a magazine style to appeal to specific target audiences, such that:

  • The menus within each COI create the ‘storyline’ and supporting themes, so that users will keep coming back.
  • The magazine part of the website is complemented by a database comprising web-accessible resources.

Originally, it was envisioned that over time the individual dropdowns could evolve into ‘second-level COIs’ as they build up a readership that is attracted by stories contributed on a continuiing basis by a network of Context Experts.

Grant from National Water Supply Expansion Program enables development of Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest to proceed

Acting in collaboration with the oriiginal Water Sustainability Committee (2002 – 2010) of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association, the Irrigation Industry Association of British Columbia (IIABC) received a grant from the National Water Supply Expansion Program for Canada and British Columbia (NWSEP) to develop a Community of Interest (COI) on Water-Centric Planning. COI development commenced in July 2005 when a provincial focus group was convened to review and brainstorm the COI themes and menu dropdowns.

According to Robyn Wark, (former) City of Burnaby Ecosystem Planner and Co-Chair of the British Columbia Water-Centric Working Group, “Originally, this COI was to be called Watershed-Based Planning for consistency with the community planning element of the Robyn warkWater Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. However, the NWSEP grant combined with the support of the Province 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 reflected in the Table of Contents, and is an ambitious undertaking. We are excited by the challenges that integration of perspectives involves!”

“In addition to the NWSEP grant, the Ministry of Environment River Forecast Centre has also provided funding”, added Ted van der Gulik, Vice-Chair of the (original) Water Sustainability Committee and Senior Engineer with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, “ Ted van der gulikWe are looking to other federal and provincial agencies to contribute to COI development by funding links to resources that those agencies maintain. The River Forecast Centre is a good example of what we have in mind. Through waterbucket.ca we can make the information on the Centre’s website more accessible and we can provide context that goes beyond simply providing a web link. In other words the objective is to add value.”

Greater Vancouver Regional District financial contribution accelerates development of Community-of-Interest

The Board of Directors of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) awarded a grant from its Sustainability Enterprise Fund (SEF) to accelerate development of the Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest. SEF offers GVRD municipalities an opportunity to invest together in sustainability projects with region-wide benefits, and to share the risks and potential advantages of innovation.

An inter-municipal and inter-agency working group of the GVRD’s Technical Advisory Committee has developed an adaptable 10-step methodology for ‘planning with reference to watershed-based features’ so that resource, land use and community design decisions are made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed. This approach is being integrated with the revised Livable Region Strategic Plan.

According to Ray Fung, (former) Chair of the original Water Sustainability Committee (WSC), “The WSC has undertaken to promote implementation of the Raymond-Fung_2014_120pwatershed/landscape-based approach as an element of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. This will be achieved by developing awareness and understanding through web-based communication. The COI focus will be on tools that effectively consider ecological systems in community planning. The SEF Grant will enable creation of the COI structure complete with content placeholders. Content will then be created in successive phases of website development.”

The Water Bucket Website Partnership that is responsible for development of waterbucket.ca is an initiative of the WSC, and comprises representation from regional, provincial and federal agencies. “The Partnership gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Sustainability Enterprise Fund, funded by the GVRD, towards completion of the project”, added Fung.

 Erik Karlsen, John Arber and Ted van der Gulik converse during a meeting of the British Columbia Water-Centric Working Group


Posted September 2005
Updated July 2009
Updated March 2013