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Water-Centric Planning

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION / USE PLAIN LANGUAGE: “A lot of fantastic studies are misinterpreted outside of scientific circles because the language, style and meaning of science writing is very different to non-specialists,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD candidate, University of Venice


“I have re-evaluated how I discuss my own research. I was taking some of the terminology for granted as it is repeated in the literature time and time again but words like ‘stormwater’, ‘rainwater’ and ‘drainage’ can have such powerful unconscious effects on how you interpret the discussions and they can mean different things to different stakeholders in the system. These terminology choices ultimately have a large effect in science communication and the message you intend to convey,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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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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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “The ‘From Rain from Resource Workshop’ highlighted the importance of rainwater management to climate change adaptation and showcased examples from other areas that could be applied to the Okanagan,” stated Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board


“Managing stormwater effectively will be a critical climate change adaptation tool. A key component of managing for storms is redesigning our approach to handling the more frequent, lighter rainfall events. Rainwater management keeps water on-site, improving water quality by reducing runoff pollution, allowing the rain to infiltrate and recharge aquifers, and establishing ways to harvest water for other uses. Rainwater management complements management of larger storm events, and reduces infrastructure requirements overall,” stated Anna Warwick Sears.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / LIVING WATER SMART: “British Columbia is making the rules serve the goals. Adapting to climate change and reducing the impact on the environment will be conditions of receiving provincial infrastructure funding,” foreshadowed the Province’s Catriona Weidman at Seminar 1 in the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series for peer-based education


“We all work with rules. We don’t want to argue about the rules. What we really want to do is change some of the rules to create the greener, more sustainable communities that people would like. The provincial government is using infrastructure funding to encourage a ‘new business as usual’ – one results in the right type of projects – rather than taking a stick approach. The Province is leveraging its grants programs to influence changes on the ground. British Columbia is in transition,” stated Catriona Weidman.

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INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE SALMON: Reconnect People, Fish, Land and Water – a unifying theme for module #3 in the Watershed Moments Virtual Symposium (livestreamed on YouTube; December 3, 2020)


“From an International Year of the Salmon perspective, large efforts of a very large mass of people around the rims of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and likely Arctic oceans will need to ‘come together’ for any real change to occur. From this perspective the requirement in an increasingly interconnected world is closer to ‘humankind’ than to a few of us in the local community. That said, it’s the sum of us in local communities that will move this closer to a humankind undertaking,” stated Dr. Kim Hyatt.

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TOWARDS WATERSHED SECURITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: A report on the role of water in modernized land use planning by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project (July 2020)


“In the past decade, land and water planning by the provincial government have advanced in fits and starts. Plans were often developed in response to conflict and litigation by Indigenous Nations or by local governments and authority holders seeking to fill planning gaps. While these plans are highly local and fit for purpose, they lack provincial authority and resources making them challenging to enforce. The report provides direction to both provincial and Indigenous decision-makers by outlining the need for, and elements of, a reformed provincial land and water planning framework,” stated Rosie Simms.

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WATERSHEDS 2020: Stepping Stones to Collaborative Watershed Governance in British Columbia (a virtual forum hosted by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on October 15-16, 2020)


“Watersheds is an ongoing series of forums designed to inspire and nourish B.C.’s water community—an almost decade-long tradition of engaging with innovative ideas and bold thinking, building connections and networks in our freshwater community, and finding sustainable solutions to pressing problems. This forum will bring together a diverse community of water leaders in B.C. to build and deepen connections, learn from one another, and explore opportunities for improved watershed decision-making and longer-term watershed security,” stated Laura Brandes.

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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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FINANCIAL VALUATION OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES AND WORTH: “As a result of alterations to the hydrology of the creekshed, the Shelly Creek ‘riparian ecosystem’ has been reduced to a number of ‘riparian zones’ as defined in regulations. We view this finding as one of the key takeaways from the Shelly Creek demonstration application of the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Chair, EAP Chair


“The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considers use and conservation of land to be equally important values. Historically, land use and property development in our communities have been given priority over ecological systems such as streams. Too often the result has been remnant ecological services that fall far short of the benefits that these natural commons can provide. The research findings suggest that the diminution of stream functions gradually will draw the attention of property owners and the community to the ‘no harm’ rule in land appraisal.,” stated Tim Pringle.

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