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Water-Centric Planning

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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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REPORT CARD ON THE HEALTH OF AUSTRALIA’S ENVIRONMENT: “Last year was neither an outlier nor the ‘new normal’ – it will get worse,” says Albert Van Dijk, Professor of Water and Landscape Dynamics, Australian National University


“From the long list of environmental indicators we report on, we use seven to calculate an Environmental Condition Score (ECS) for each region, as well as nationally. These seven indicators – high temperatures, river flows, wetlands, soil health, vegetation condition, growth conditions and tree cover – are chosen because they allow a comparison against previous years. In Australia’s dry environment, they tend to move up and down together, which gives the score more robustness,” stated Albert Van Dijk.

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PREPARE FOR TOMORROW: “Policy changes required to mitigate climate change appear far less disruptive — economically, socially and culturally — than the measures being taken right now to tackle COVID-19,” say Eric Galbraith and Ross Otto of McGill University


“The alarms for both COVID-19 and climate change were sounded by experts, well in advance of visible crises,” stated Eric Galbraith. “As scientists who have studied climate change and the psychology of decision-making, we find ourselves asking: Why do the government responses to COVID-19 and climate change — which both require making difficult decisions to avert future disasters — differ so dramatically? We suggest four important reasons.”

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WILL LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE? — “The International Year of the Salmon program has the potential to be a game-changer. It is not just about the fish; it is about humankind creating sustainable landscapes for people and salmon,” say Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski, the federal-provincial science duo who will inform, educate and engage participants in the finale module at the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium


In British Columbia, the iconic salmon is the canary in the coal mine. The multi-year program that is the International Year of the Salmon could be a ‘carpe diem moment’ (i.e. seize the day) for communities. “Significant initiatives and projects directly relevant to sustaining and enhancing wild salmon and their freshwater habitats are under way such as the federal-provincial BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy together with other provincial natural resource ministries are key players,” states Peter Tschaplinski.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY LEGISLATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Not obtaining a groundwater licence and hoping that government will never find out is doomed thinking,” say Mike Wei, formerly BC’s deputy comptroller of water rights, and David Slade, water well drilling contractor


“If an existing groundwater user applies after March 1, 2022, they will be viewed as a completely new user and that seniority will be gone! In many watersheds, the chance of an existing user getting a licence applying after March 1, 2022 may not even be possible – imagine how that would impact the business or land owner? It may not seem like it, but we have entered a new reality. A reality of no return. Existing groundwater users need to realize this, so they can do the right (and smart) thing and apply for a licence prior to March 1, 2022,” stated Mike Wei.

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CLIMATE CHANGE, POLLUTION AND URBANIZATION THREATEN WATER: “Canada could support the world in achieving water sustainability, but it must first get its own house in order and achieve the UN’s water goals nationally,” urge Corinne Schuster-Wallace, Robert Sandford and Stephanie Merrill in an op-ed (February 2020)


“Canada already has the expertise, technologies, industries and research capacity to make good on a commitment to water sustainability and universal achievement of the UN’s water goals for all Canadians. But it needs leadership to advance research and practice to expand our existing strengths, and export these internationally,” wrote Corinne Schuster-Wallace. “Canadian research institutions have a role to play in bringing the country together by showing Canada and the world the solutions and benefits of achieving these goals.”

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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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SINKING LAND AND RISING SEAS: Architects and planners from the Netherlands are advising coastal cities worldwide on how to live with water


‘For the Dutch, consulting with cities about their response to relative sea-level rise has become a growth industry. They’re the Silicon Valley of water management, a laboratory testing strategies that have evolved over the centuries. No wonder. Water has been both a daily threat and a national identity for a country about the size of Maryland. More than half the nation’s 17 million people live on land below sea level,” wrote Jim Morrison. “Rising seas threaten 10 percent of the world’s urban population so there’s never-ending demand.”

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