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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-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest


“Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach 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,” explains Kim Stephens.

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“Watershed / Landscape-based Approach to Community Planning” – genesis of water-centric planning in BC


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: While BC communities may not be able to restore lost biodiversity, they can certainly halt its decline and consciously direct efforts toward a richer future, that is: “make where we live better” (a call to action by those who will be attending the Parksville 2019 Symposium on April 2-3-4)


“The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend a ‘watershed moment’ in Parksville,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Parksville 2019 Symposium Organizing Committee.

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KUS-KUS-SUM RESTORATION ON THE COURTENAY RIVER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “Restoration will have tremendous cultural, environmental, social, and economic benefits, and the community has shown a high level of enthusiasm over the future vision for this site,” stated David Allen, CAO, City of Courtenay


A historic milestone in reconciliation and intergovernmental relations has taken place in the Comox Valley. A First Nation, a municipality and an environmental non-profit signed a MOU to purchase, restore and manage a key property in the heart of their community. “Working collaboratively with Project Watershed and K’ómoks First Nation has been an essential component of this project. As we move forward through the formal agreement process we look forward to building on this strong relationship with our partners,” stated David Allen.

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OPINION PIECE: “We are at a moment of truth. Local governments are implementers. This means they can be change leaders. We can make where we live better,” wrote Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) Initiative (Vancouver Sun, September 2018)


“They can integrate climate adaptation into the activities and actions of engineered and natural asset management – or flipping it around, integrate asset management into the activities and actions of climate adaptation. Getting it right starts with recognition that hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. But getting it right depends on provincial and local government alignment to require ‘design with nature’ standards of practice for servicing of land,” wrote Tim Pringle.

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DODGING DAY ZERO IN CAPETOWN: “The City has already initiated steps towards the goal of becoming a water-sensitive city by 2040. In the City’s draft water strategy, the use of rain and stormwater is included,” stated Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson


“The next step comprises the management of all water within the urban water cycle. A key component of this is rain and stormwater harvesting, which offers great growth opportunities,” Ian Neilson said. “Stormwater and rain harvesting on a large scale is an incredibly intricate and complicated process with many legal, practical, budgetary, infrastructure and other considerations. Much work is underway.” The City has a draft strategy for harvesting rain and stormwater, part of a move towards holistic water management.

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TOO SMALL TO FAIL – HOW COMMUNITIES CAN PREPARE FOR BIGGER STORMS: “Smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, upon release of new report showcasing green infrastructure projects


“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada. The increase in costs is due in part to flooding, and this new report identifies some practical mitigation measures municipalities and NGOs can take to limit the impacts of bigger storms that we expect to see in coming years,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “The lesson of this report rests with its focus on the utility of small-scale, local flood mitigation projects.”

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“Factors like land-use and land-cover changes, and vegetation changes have altered the underlying surface conditions and hydrological feedbacks that have, in turn, increased storm runoff,” report Columbia University researchers


“Our work helps explain the underlying physical mechanisms related to the intensification of precipitation and runoff extremes,” Pierre Gentine said. “This will help improve flood forecasting and early-warning alerts. Our findings can help provide scientific guidance for infrastructure and ecosystem resilience planning and could help formulate strategies for tackling climate change.” Gentine’s team plans next to try to partition the impacts of thermodynamic and atmosphere dynamics on precipitation to gain a deeper understanding about precipitation intensification.

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BLUE CITY: “We set out to write a report that will help practitioners and decision makers build a business case for more sustainable, integrated water management,” stated Louise Brennan, report co-author (January 2014)


“This fourth report from the Blue Economy Initiative and its partners looks to the future. The previous three reports have dealt with critical analysis, insights and recommendations on the value of water as a financial asset and a catalyst for innovation in Canada. In this piece, 17 water-related professionals in Canada were asked what their vision of a Water Sustainable City of the near future would look like. This report showcases the inspiring and practical foresight of the interviewees,” stated Louise Brennan.

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“We may have crossed an invisible threshold into a new climate regime.” – Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair in Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health


“This past summer, if you wanted to know what climate change will mean to your future, all you had to do was be outside to see what is to come. The entire Northern Hemisphere was impacted by extreme weather – drought, forest fires or flooding,” stated Bob Sandford. “With some 560 forest fires burning in B.C. this past summer, thousands on evacuation notices and smoke that could impact most of western Canada and the northern US well into autumn, many are now thinking about where we are headed and just how fast we may get there.”

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DOWNLOAD: “The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – demonstration applications in two regions launched a capacity-building program to align provincial, regional and local efforts to achieve the vision for Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan


“Walkabouts facilitate conversations and on-the-ground learning. This approach proved especially successful when we hosted the Showcasing Innovation series,” stated Kevin Lagan, City of Courtenay. “Council recognized that a common understanding of challenges and solutions would result in consistent expectations at municipal front counters across Vancouver Island. Council also recognized that hosting the series would have a better payback than selectively sending a few staff to conferences. In the current financial climate, the operative phrase is stay local.”

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Celebrating a Decade of Living Water Smart in British Columbia – Where To From Here?


“While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework,” Lynn Kriwoken stated in 2008. An Executive Director in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, she personifies continuity, commitment and leadership in bringing the Living Water Smart vision to fruition. “This is why we constantly emphasize that Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” added Kriwoken.

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