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.
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.
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.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We all learn through stories. Every edition of Waterbucket eNews is built around a conversational interview,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability
“In these challenging times, it is imperative that we offer hope. Sharing stories of people’s experiences is valuable for inspiring others. Each week, we start with a compelling quotable quote and delve into the story behind the story. During the past 3-month period, the Partnership has published 11 feature stories. This edition constitutes our “season in review”. We have kept it simple. To refresh reader memories about the topics and how much ground we have covered, we have brought forward the headline plus defining quotable quote from each of the 11 storylines,” stated Kim Stephens.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Without the Agricultural Land Reserve and watercourses, the city of Surrey would feel different. It would not be the place that it is,” stated Rémi Dubé when he reflected on the evolution of rainwater management and green infrastructure over decades
“Watercourses really do drive a lot of what we do in Surrey. It always goes back to the natural resource that we inherited. From an urban fabric perspective, between the Agricultural Land Reserve and our watercourses, the city would be quite a bit different if not for them. Between those two assets, you drive through Surrey and there is an environmental sense to it despite the density in the City Centre. When the Natural Drainage Policy was adopted in 1975, formalizing that need to preserve creeks in the 1970s made a huge difference to what we have now,” stated Rémi Dubé.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Integration is the KEY MESSAGE – integration with the ecosystem, recreation, land use, and community groups. Use effective green infrastructure, lighten the ‘water footprint’, and protect stream health,” stated Carrie Baron, former Drainage Manager with the City of Surrey
When senior governments cut programs in the 2000s and downloaded responsibilities to local government, the City of Surrey and Carrie Baron stepped up. Her passion and commitment garnered internal support at Surrey to fund data collection and performance monitoring programs. These advanced science-based understanding. “It was disheartening when senior governments started cutting all the science and data collection programs. The more you learn, the more you try to bring in. That was always the key – we knew that as technology advanced and we learned more, we had to change,” stated Carrie Baron.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Without Paul Ham’s quiet and unassuming leadership behind the scenes, would the green infrastructure movement in British Columbia have successfully launched a generation ago?
Success in advancing the green infrastructure mission during the 2000s under Paul Ham’s watch is attributable to 10 cascading factors being in alignment within Surrey as well as within the Metro Vancouver region. These are timeless, universal principles. Top-to-bottom alignment enabled local government collaboration at the regional scale. Paramount is political commitment. Staff can only carry things so far. Only when someone who is elected takes the lead, and is the champion, does something happen.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “If done right, I see Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery being leveraged to achieve informed and superior planning for land and water,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia
“The Partnership for Water Sustainability and Asset Management BC share common interests. The umbrella for collaboration Sustainable Service Delivery. An over-arching goal of collaboration is to advance a mutually supporting approach that profiles and raises awareness of the guiding philosophy, principles and objectives embodied in the BC Framework. Local government politicians and staff are being overwhelmed by the issues of the day. Folks are losing sight of the big picture. An elephant in the room is that the asset management community has lost its way,” stated Kim Stephens.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Engaging citizen lake stewards throughout the province would extend the ability of government, as we face climate change,” says Eric Bonham, a director of the BC Lake Stewardship Society
“Major breakthroughs happen when decision-makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community to create the future desired by all. Collaboration grows from a shared vision about the future and commitment to action. This is the ‘top down and bottom up’ approach. Engagement of community through stewardship is a credible formula to be encouraged and mainstreamed at every opportunity. Collaboration, teamwork and a recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is the energy that stokes creativity and determination,” stated Eric Bonham.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The loss of understanding among elected representatives at the regional scale is real,” stated Darrell Mussatto, former mayor of North Vancouver City
“As an elected representative, you go through the years, and you become more involved. And then in my case, 2018 comes along and you are not running for re-election again. After serving 25 years, you are done! That is a big, big shock. Once you are done, you are done. At the regional level, there has been a recent loss of long-term knowledge and experience. The loss of understanding is real. When politicians retire, staff are still there. As an outgoing elected person, you rely on the continuity of key staff to keep it all together,” stated Darrell Mussatto.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The job of a scientist is to provide the best advice to help people make a good decision,” stated Dr. Dave Preikshot, Senior Environmental Specialist with the Municipality of North Cowichan
“As scientists, we try to walk that tightrope between being overly reactive or not bringing the appropriate dynamics to bear on a situation. That is the debate in so many policy decisions. Ultimately the decisions are up to senior managers, politicians and the public to make. As a scientist, all you can do is provide the best quality of information possible. Hopefully, though, scientists can provide information that helps. I do believe that scientists need to talk to politicians, managers, and members of the community. And that is what I do in my current role,” stated Dave Preikshot.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Jim Dumont’s clear thinking, innovation and experience underpin the foundation for his risk reduction approach to maintaining “water balance” in a changing climate (October 2023)
“So, why have the practitioners of Rainwater Management in British Columbia fallen behind practitioners in Washington State, Oregon and California in protecting streams? One must understand how we arrived at this situation and then it will be easy to see a path forward,” stated Jim Dumont. “While many advances have been made in managing rainwater on-site, BC communities are failing to utilize practices that directly benefit streams during droughts and floods. Everything is in place. We have led people to it, but we cannot force the uptake. We cannot force the change.”
BLUE ECOLOGY OFFERS HOPE AND REMOVES THE FEAR OF RECONCILIATION: “As long as you show a genuine curiosity, the willingness to learn, cross-cultural conversations blossom,” stated Michael Blackstock, Independent Indigenous Scholar and co-founder of the Blue Ecology Institute Foundation
Michael Blackstock believes that a message of hope is paramount in these times of droughts, forest fires and floods. “Rather than looking through a cumulative effects lens, I also see the concept of ‘cumulative healing’ landing as a way to give back to water and land. Rather than wondering how much more can we take or impact land before we need to stop, instead we should ask how much longer should we let the water and land heal, before we ask for more,” states Michael Blackstock.