LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “As one who has seen and done many things, I have learned that we must all be leaders who selflessly have a vision, and we must then act to make the vision a reality, because air, water and continents are interconnected and if you can dream it — you can do it,” stated Lois Jackson, former Board Chair, Metro Vancouver Regional District (February 2022)

Note to Reader:

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. The theme for the edition published on February 22, 2022 was intergenerational change as illustrated by a “flashback story” about British Columbia’s Green Infrastructure Partnership, with  emphasis on the timely role played by Lois Jackson when she was Board Chair, Metro Vancouver Regional District.

An essay contributed by Lois Jackson is the trigger for the Partnership for Water Sustainability publishing How We Transform the Land – Intergenerational Vision to Change Standards of Practice. First elected to Delta City Council in 1973, she served as Mayor from 1999 until 2018, at which time she stepped down and was re-elected as a Councillor. Lois Jackson also served as Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors from 2006 to 2011.

“Design With Nature” – An essay by Mayor Lois Jackson

The catalyst for Lois Jackson providing her reflections was an “oral history” published in June 2020 by the Partnership. Titled Delta’s Rain Garden Program for Urban Landscape Enhancement: Sustaining the Legacy through the Second Decade and Beyond, this historical perspective honours and celebrates the pioneering efforts of Lois Jackson and three other rain garden champions in the City of Delta.

Guided by An Intergenerational Perspective

“Today, what we as leaders do, will resound for the people of the future, their cities and their regions. In fact, for the world at large. One of the reasons that I ran for office in 1972, and why I served for 20 years as Mayor of Delta, and 7 years at Chair of Metro Vancouver was ‘to make a difference’…. a difference to the children and their families of the future,” wrote Lois Jackson.

“But we are wrong to stop there because we must also consider that we are not the only ones sharing this planet, and what we do on a daily basis, can impact positively or negatively having a resounding effect and rippling effect of which we must be aware.”

“One of the first things I did when I became Mayor in 1999 was to introduce our community to caring about of our air, land and water. Many were opposed to this position, I must say. But we persevered and, as a result, I believe we have set a good example over all these years of good stewardship.”

“One of the things of which I am most proud is our success in leading four levels of government to purchase Burns Bog. I feel that is one of the legacies I can leave in my life’s goal of ‘making my difference’….!!”

“But I regress, yes, as one who has seen and done many things, I have learned that we must all be leaders who selflessly have a vision, and we must then act to make the vision a reality, because air, water and continents are interconnected and if you can dream it — you can do it,” concluded Lois Jackson.

Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation

“It was exactly a year ago that I met Paul Ham, Kim Stephens and Ray Fung of the Green Infrastructure Partnership,” recalled Mayor Lois Jackson in September 2007, when she spoke at the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation event hosted by the City of Delta to kickoff off the second annual series.

“I remember that first meeting quite clearly. At first I was not sure I understood what was meant when they talked about ‘green infrastructure’ and ‘celebrating successes’. And then the light went on when I realized they were talking about things like Delta’s sidewalk retrofit strategy and our program for transforming ditches into landscaped amenities that beautify roadways.”

“I remember saying ‘now I get it!’ – the point being that when you have examples of what can be done, and projects are being built, you can then wrap your mind around the green infrastructure vision and say to yourself: ‘what’s the big deal, this is really common sense…. if we can do this, then we can do more.’ And before you know it, the ball is rolling, and the landscape is changing for the better.”

Formation of Green Infrastructure Partnership and crystallizing of “Design With Nature” framework

How We Transform the Land connects a series of dots about the Green Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) and past interactions with Lois Jackson. Interweaving the GIP storyline provides historical context, serving as a reminder of the importance of knowing one’s history,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“Formed in 2003 and co-funded by the provincial and local governments and the Real Estate Foundation, the GIP provided provincial leadership and influenced the nature and direction of the green infrastructure conversation in this province. The GIP was one of six original elements of the Water Sustainability Action Plan when it was released in 2004.”

“As Board Chair, Lois Jackson was an advocate for the GIP. Knowing one’s history helps one understand why and how things happen, as well as how the ripple effects of decisions and actions can play out over decades. Under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, a ‘convening for action’ process in British Columbia has been a work-in-progress for the past two decades. The timely role played by Mayor Lois Jackson is an integral part of the Action Plan storyline.”

The storyline for the “How We Transform the Land” legacy document is structured in four parts

Part 1 is the essay by Lois Jackson. Her reflections on what she has observed and experienced over five decades are insightful. Her reflections explain why she was receptive to an overture from the Green Infrastructure Partnership in 2006 when she was in a position of leadership and authority as Chair, Metro Vancouver Regional Board.

Part 2 is the “story behind the story” of the players who were in the right place at the right time in 2003, seized the moment to form the Green Infrastructure Partnership, and developed the “Design with Nature” framework for integrating across infrastructure systems.

Part 3 describes building blocks in a collaborative and consultative process that secured high-level support from elected representatives for a “convening for action” vision to change the way that communities use and develop land by designing with nature.

Part 4 foreshadows how early successes in the Metro Vancouver region were replicated and then built upon by the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative, beginning in 2007. Under the banner of Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan, this work-in-progress continues to this day. It is a building blocks process.

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on February 22nd 2022, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: How We Transform the Land – Intergenerational Vision to Change Standards of Practice.