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Living Water Smart in BC

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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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “The Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management provides local governments on Vancouver Island, and beyond, with guidance for implementation of Living Water Smart principles on the ground,” stated Ted van der Gulik


“The federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) Program
provided funding for development of this Primer. The purpose of the RACs
Program is to support coordinated action towards advancing regional climate
change adaptation decision-making,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “The Primer incorporates the findings of a precedent-setting groundwater research project undertaken by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society.”

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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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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: In 2008, Premier Gordon Campbell issued a call to action: “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.”


Water defines British Columbia, and the rhythms of water are changing. We are at a tipping point. Will we adapt? Will we restore balance to the water cycle? How? Will we get it right? Yes – provided the right people are in the right place at the right time to apply an understanding of science and technology to make better decisions. The challenge for engineers is to grasp the inherent complexity and unpredictability of working with natural systems. Engineers are always trying to shove nature into some form that would make it predictable and controllable.

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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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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “The Blue Ecology concept for ‘interweaving’ Western and Indigenous thought goes to the heart of bringing different worlds together,” stated Fin Donnelly – Member of Parliament, founder & Chair of the Rivershed Society of British Columbia


“The Fraser River is my passion. The Fraser is one of the most diverse river basins in North America. The Fraser River’s diversity – including people and landscapes – inspires me. However, we need to apply ‘Watershed CPR’ to the Fraser to return it to health,” stated Fin Donnelly. “When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change. We need a paradigm-shift in the way we do things.”

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LOOKING AT WATER THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES: “downstream: reimagining water” (2017) – anthology co-edited by Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong envisions an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic to tackle climate change


“This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming,” wrote Dr. Dorothy Christian, co-editor. She is dedicated to building and strengthening any alliances with non-Indigenous communities who are open to hearing how Indigenous ways of knowing informs relationships amongst all living things.

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