bc action plan for water sustainability

    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Cowichan Valley’s Kate Miller is the inaugural recipient of the Watershed Moments Team Award which recognizes extraordinary contributions and accomplishments to embed ecosystem values within municipal planning, processes and projects

    The Watershed Moments Award honours the legacy of the late Rob Lawrance, former Environmental Planner with the City of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. “Kate Miller is a worthy inaugural recipient of this award. Kate connects the dots between community and regional government water stewardship collaboration. Kate also leads in inter-regional collaboration on water stewardship initiatives through her key participation on the Watershed Moments Team. Kate and Rob worked together on water stewardship efforts,” stated Chair Paul Chapman during award presentation.

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Our watersheds have been stewarded for thousands of years by First Nations. We can continue to steward them for thousands of years into the future,” stated Keith Lawrence, Cowichan Valley Regional District (January 2023)

    “When I first joined CVRD, watershed governance was top of mind for some folks. We were working on a program to collaborate with various organizations to look at watershed and groundwater governance. We were trying to understand the problems with the current governance framework which was informal and identify a framework that could work going forward. The Cowichan watershed is a great example of community involvement. Given the number of organizations, one needs to create a mind map to understand it, because the stewardship network is an ecosystem in and of itself.” stated Keith Lawrence.

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Getting involved in a Water Sustainability Plan is one thing. Leading it is another. Who is going to take charge, who is going to step up and really lead that process,” stated Brian Carruthers, former Chief Administrative Officer with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (January 2023)

    “When I think about the experience in the Cowichan, in many ways the region is still in the theoretical stage in terms of weaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science,” stated Brian Carruthers. “We created the framework for that to happen, but I cannot say that it truly has happened. The foundation for interweaving in the Cowichan region is really with the Cowichan Tribes. Everything the Cowichan Valley Regional District has done has been shoulder to shoulder with them. The framework is in place and the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection service exists.”

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    BLUE ECOLOGY IS THE PATHWAY TO REACH WATER RECONCILIATION: “What Blue Ecology offers local government is a foundation, and starting point, that has both Indigenous and non-Indigenous buy-in. I believe this will alone remove some of the fear,” says Michael Blackstock, independent Indigenous scholar and creator of the Blue Ecology methodology

    “I have been reflecting on the recent UN climate change conference in Egypt. It seems that the wind is coming out of the sails. It seems like climate adaptation is too big a hill for nation level governments to climb and solve. My hope lies in local government because local people understand their local area. And at the local scale, we are able to self-organize better on specific execution of executable tasks. I have lived in many communities throughout BC and have learned that those towns each have their own culture. So, local knowledge is important, whether it is Indigenous or non-Indigenous,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The growing cost of neglect, combined with the urgency of the flood liability issue in particular, is the driver for linking municipal infrastructure asset management and stream health as cause-and-effect,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (January 2023)

    “My over-arching message to those who were elected to municipal councils and regional boards in October 2022 is succinct: Get the water part right in a changing climate, and you will be amazed how other parts of the community resiliency puzzle then fall into place,” stated Kim Stephens. “Land use alters the landscape. That is obvious, right. But there is an elephant in the room. It is the unfunded liability due to neglect of the drainage service. The cost of neglect grows over time. The consequence of neglect is an accumulating financial liability to fund creek channel stabilization and stream corridor revegetation in urban and rural settings.”

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “An airplane analogy is one way to describe the relationship between council and staff. Think of one wing as political and the other as administration. If either wing is not functioning properly, the plane will crash,” stated Peter Steblin, Coquitlam City Manager

    As each new generation inherits the world, vital knowledge is forgotten. Generational amnesia has profound effects on the way that we see the world. The challenge is to overcome generational amnesia so that communities learn from past experience, apply this knowledge, and achieve better policy and financial outcomes. Peter Steblin provides a perspective on how elected councils and local government staff can function effectively to arrive at affordable and effective solutions to challenges. He says, “Staff gives good advice and council makes the decision. The operative phrase is a respect-based relationship.”

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