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Living Water Smart in BC

SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION VS INTER-GENERATIONAL LEGACY: “We know what we need to do to adapt to a changing water cycle. Whether and how we deal with uncertainty, manage risk, and adapt to droughts and floods will depend on how effective we are in encouraging a spirit of inter-generational collaboration among decision-makers at all levels within government and with community,” wrote Kim Stephens (Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability) in an Op-Ed published in April 2021


“British Columbia’s communities have arrived at an ‘inter-generational moment’ in history. For quite some time we have known that climate mitigation is about carbon and climate adaptation is about water. Now what will we do? Sure, the climate is changing at an accelerating rate and we are experiencing an increased frequency of extreme events – drought, fire, wind, flood. However, the situation is by no means hopeless,” stated Kim Stephens. “Through experience, we do know that when we get the water part right, other parts of the puzzle will fall into place.”

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WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: “The work of the DWWP is strategic. It is community based, and makes links interdepartmentally and with external agencies. And that in itself is the super power of what we do. It does not fit into a box of what a usual local government service is or does,” stated Julie Pisani, Program Coordinator for the Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program in the Regional District of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island (released April 2021)


“The objective and mission of the DWWP program has always been about connecting land and water management. But the RDN couldn’t just leap straight there. We first had to build partnerships, trust, datasets and knowledge. We had to test ideas, learn, earn credibility, and deepen relationships across jurisdictions. The RDN demonstrates commitment to watershed initiatives and water sustainability by delivering the DWWP Action Plan with a long-term reliable funding source through parcel tax,” stated Julie Pisani.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “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,” stated Lynn Kriwoken of the BC Ministry of Environment (article in Environmental Science & Engineering Magazine)


“Living Water Smart contains a key message – green development makes sense. Fostering new thinking about development leads to more green spaces, more water and fish in streams, improved community vitality, reduced demand for water, and reduced expenditure on infrastructure. Water issues are complex and best solved collaboratively, which include using strategies and solutions that fall outside government control,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Unveiled in 2009, BC’s online Water Conservation Calculator decision support tool is a foundation piece for a long-term provincial strategy that aligned eligibility for infrastructure grant programs with Living Water Smart targets for improving water use efficiency and achieving water supply resiliency province-wide through Council or Board endorsed Water Conservation Plans


“Smaller communities often cannot allocate resources to traditional infrastructure projects or cannot budget for the development of water conservation and efficiency plans by service providers. The purpose of the Water Conservation Calculator is to illustrate how specific conservation measures yield both fiscal and physical water consumption savings. Water purveyors can use the tool to assist in presenting their conservation case to council and other decision makers,” stated Lisa Wright, Ministry of Community & Rural Development.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The more we can align local actions with provincial targets, the greater our chances of success,” said Ron Neufeld, then representing the City of Campbell River, at the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series (November 2008)


“Living Water Smart creates the opportunity/potential for real dramatic change at a local level. Good policy is knowing where the horizon is, so that you know where you want to get to. Success depends on cooperation across jurisdictional boundaries. We must hold the provincial government accountable too. They have given us the long-term vision; and we are looking to them to be accountable for the support that we now need,” stated Ron Neufeld.

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CELEBRATION OF LIVING WATER SMART, THE FIRST DECADE: “In 2008, ‘Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan’ was the Province’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments,” wrote Kim Stephens in an Op-Ed published by the Vancouver Sun in June 2018


“The hard work of hope has resulted in a policy, program and regulatory framework that enables community-based action to adapt to the New Normal. Living Water Smart successes are defined by collaboration and a ‘top-down / bottom-up’ approach. This brings together decision-makers and community advocates. The legislative piece is the Water Sustainability Act, one of several game-changers. A historic achievement, the Act recognizes the connections between land and water – what happens on the land matters,” stated Kim Stephens

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CHANGE THE WAY WE DEVELOP LAND TO CREATE LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES & PROTECT STREAM HEALTH IN BC: “We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward,” stated Deputy Minister Dale Wall when he announced that the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series would be proceeding in two locations (May 2008)


“We have to develop models of practice. We have to develop expertise to support The New Business As Usual. Vancouver Island is the pilot region for much of this work. The approach to practitioner education is inclusive, and supports water-centric planning and a design with nature way-of-thinking. The Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series will help facilitate inter-departmental alignment and a consistent regional approach. The City of Courtenay and Cowichan Valley Regional District are partners who are helping us pilot this work,” stated Dale Wall.

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LIVING WATER SMART: A PLAN FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY – “Living Water Smart: British Columbia’s Water Plan lays out the vision and the steps needed to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and watersheds. This plan will make B.C. a leader in water stewardship,” stated BC Environment Minister Barry Penner (June 2008)


“Living Water Smart is a blueprint for cultural, environmental, industrial, community and agricultural change that will help safeguard the province’s water resources into the future. Drawing on a variety of policy measures, including planning, regulatory change, education, and incentives like economic instruments and rewards, the plan commits to new actions and builds on existing efforts to protect and keep B.C.’s water healthy and secure. More than 40 actions and targets will keep the province’s water healthy and secure,” stated Minister Penner.

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2ND ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON PLANNING FOR RESILIENCE: “Living Water Smart lays out out the vision of where British Columbia needs to go in order to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate,” stated Kim Stephens when he represented the Water Sustainability Action Plan as a panel member on Uncertain Water Supplies (March 2010)


“When I reflect back on what I have learned in my career, I believe that clear thinking is needed more now than ever. Time and time again, I have seen how we create layers of complexity around assumptions. One of my rules of thumb is that, if you take any kind of initiative, drill down and peel back the layers of the onion until you get down to the simple assumption. So often, it tends to be flawed. Ask a different question and you will get a different answer,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The team of Lynn Kriwoken, Ted van der Gulik and Kim Stephens provided insight into some of the issues around water management in British Columbia,” stated Peter Williams when he described the interactive format for the Smarter Water Management panel session at the Greenlink Conference held in Vancouver (October 2010)


GreenLink 2010 attracted an international audience and “linked” the best of the best in Sustainable Communities, Finance, Technology and Government. “It was a real pleasure to take part in the Smarter Water Management panel and in particular to hear about the far-sighted and imaginative approach that the BC Government is taking to identifying, managing and educating people about the province’s water management issues. I am sure that this approach will provide lessons for other areas that seek to address their water management needs,” stated moderator Peter Williams.

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