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Living Water Smart in BC

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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LIVING WATER SMART PANEL AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “Being water smart is about making smarter individual choices and encouraging all British Columbians to make the right choices so that we reduce our water use and leave more for the environment,” stated Lynn Kriwoken, Ministry of Environment (October 2010)


Living Water Smart comprises 45 commitments, which are grouped into five themes for building greener communities and adapting to a changing climate. “What do you imagine for water, both where you live and in your life? It is a tall order for water management in the 21st century, and how we get there? Living Water Smart outlines three key themes for realizing the vision. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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LIVING WATER SMART PANEL AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “The question that we ask is what would you like this place to look like in 50 years? And what steps will you take to get there? Those steps start today,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Ministry of Agriculture, when he referenced Beyond the Guidebook 2010 and its theme about implementing a new culture for watershed protection (October 2010)


“The challenges we face and choices that we make today are going to impact us for a long time. In 2002, ‘Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia’ laid out a plan for doing a better job of developing land. Almost a decade later, Beyond the Guidebook 2010 tells the stories of what people have done, what they are going to do, and how they are going about it. The approach is bottom-up. We need the people on the ground to be willing to do the work, and make the change,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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LIVING WATER SMART PANEL AT GREENLINK VANCOUVER CONFERENCE: “On Monday nights at Council meetings, what Councillors see are the individual applications for land development. Focusing them on the big picture requires a paradigm-shift in the way we talk to them,” stated Kim Stephens (October 2010)


“We tried something different in the South Okanagan. We had to find the champions rather than writing another guidebook. Conversations helped us identify the issues.  That was the beginning of what we call ‘convening for action’ in British Columbia. Through this process we realized that people don’t want another guidebook. They want to hear the stories of those who are doing it; and they want those who are doing it to come and share those stories. So, we said, it is going to take us five years to find the stories.  And that is what Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is all about,” stated Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2011: “Water sustainability is the lens to focus attention on how we can manage the built environment more sustainably. We will be successful when settlement change is in balance with ecology,” stated Kim Stephens at the FCM Sustainable Communities Conference held in Victoria, BC


Eight innovators from across Canada shared their breakthrough examples of municipal sustainability in a range of sectors. The format was interactive, which allowed participants to share and learn from each other. “Kim Stephens provided a water perspective, with an emphasis on designing with nature. His takeaway message was that water sustainability will be achieved through green infrastructure policies and practices. There was a great deal of excitement and energy in the room and delegates were very engaged during the roundtable discussion,” stated Azzah Jeena.

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FLASHBACK TO 2013: “The Primer on Land Development Process in British Columbia supports implementation of targets and actions listed in Living Water Smart – these establish expectations as to how land will be developed,” stated Tim Pringle when the Primer was released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability at the 2013 Annual Convention of the Union of BC Municipalities


“The Primer is a ‘bridging document’ because it illustrates how to seamlessly integrate the legal and administrative parts of the Land Development Process through the designing with nature and rainwater management lens,” stated Tim Pringle. “While much attention is given to the technical and legal aspects, we are not aware of anyone who has addressed administration. This piece of the puzzle is the key to implementation of effective rainwater management systems on private property.”

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