LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “A good idea is immediate, but preparation for implementation can take 5 to 10 years. Change will then take place quickly. It has taken patience and consistent messaging over the past decade to incrementally build consensus, facilitate a culture change, and start implementing a new way of doing business,” stated Glen Brown when announced release of Beyond the Guidebook 2010 at the UBCM Annual Convention, at a study session for elected representatives


Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes.

The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on November 30, 2021 featured historical resources readily accessible and downloadable from the website. These documents help focus attention on the importance of oral history as an effective way to pass on experience and understanding over time as the intergenerational baton is handed off.

Creating a Culture for Urban Watershed Restoration in BC

“Changing the way communities conserve, use and develop land depends on establishing higher expectations and challenging decision-makers and practitioners to embrace shared responsibility. It takes time to change the culture, no matter what the setting,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. He is the principal author of Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia.

“By 2010, as documented in Beyond the Guidebook 2010, it was evident that British Columbia was at a tipping point in the local government setting. There were strong reasons for optimism. Implementation of a new culture based on ‘designing with nature’ appeared to be within our collective grasp.”

Generational Amnesia is a Growing Concern

“Fast-forward to 2021. Generational amnesia potentially puts at risk much of the good work that has been accomplished in the past two decades. Knowing one’s history is important. By pulling threads of understanding from the past, the Partnership believes that passing on the ‘oral history’ would help everyone make informed decisions that result in better outcomes. The intergenerational benefits of knowing one’s oral history would ripple through time. In sharp contrast, there are risks and consequences associated with re-inventing the wheel because ‘they don’t know what they don’t know’.”

“In the 2000s, the call to action was a simple one: What do we want this place to look like in 50 years and beyond?  Once a community collectively decides what kind of future it wants, the next step is to determine what tools would make it possible to bring the shared vison to fruition. That is when the hard work begins. It requires intergenerational commitment. This relies on an understanding of oral history in order to benefit from and build on experience.”

Flashback to Rollout of “Beyond the Guidebook 2010” at the Annual UBCM Convention

“In 2005, we said this would be a different kind of guidebook. We said that the Guidebook would be the ‘telling of the stories’ of how change is being implemented on-the-ground in BC. Before the chapters could be written, however, the regional case studies had to run their course,” stated Glen Brown in 2010 at the Annual UBCM Convention. At the time, he was an Executive Director in the provincial government.

“Well, it is five years later, and Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is the story of how we got to here and where we are going next. This is the Water-Centric Guidebook. If one goes back 10 years, there was a void of policy and legislation. This led us down an educational path as the logical alternative. We took the Stormwater Planning Guidebook, which is a document released in 2002, and we moved it to implementation.”


To read the complete story published on November 30th 2021, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia; Creating a Culture for Urban Watershed Restoration.