Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

The Partnership publishes weekly e-Newsletters. These feature champions who are leading changes in practice. Stories are replicated on our Blog for ease of access.

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Effective and affordable solutions for resilient community design

“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,” stated Kim Stephens. “The end of the calendar year is a time for reflection. People learn from stories. For this reason, our editorial emphasis is on sharing the ‘stories behind the stories’ of those who lead by example.”

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GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE, A UNIQUE MECHANISM FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION: “Growing a network based on shared aspirations, and delivering results across organizational boundaries differs in every way from building an organization in any conventional sense.” – Derek Richmond, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

“We knew that intuitively but it helps when a ‘neutral’ party says that. For me, the biggest takeaway from our conversation concerns the ‘what, how and who’ as the current leadership of the Partnership looks ahead to pass the baton.. Using the Ambassadors Program as the example of WHAT; – this was the breakthrough to articulate our need for succession planning and sustainability of the network. The WHO now becomes obvious as the ambassadors themselves. The HOW is now clear too, by looking back at what we were successful with in the past,” stated Derek Richmond.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY AND ASSET MANAGEMENT ARE INEXTRICABLY LINKED: “We design and build our communities based on our relationship to water. Our neighbourhoods arise from this relationship,” stated Paul Chapman, Chair of the Watershed Moments Symposia Series

“Beginning in Nanaimo in 2018, the idea for what has now become the Watershed Moments Symposia Series, started as a modest idea to highlight the successes and challenges of water stewardship in the Nanaimo area. Our discussions led to an expanded common vocabulary. Sustainable Service Delivery, Eco-Assets and Eco-Asset Management, the Ecological Accounting Process, Riparian Deficit, and watershed stewardship are some of the words in our new common tongue. The rabid environmentalist, the cold-hearted accountant and the aloof engineer could come together and focus on a common goal – Water Balance,” stated Paul Chapman.

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AFFORDABLE AND SUSTAINABLE RE-INVESTMENT IN MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS ESSENTIAL: “Too often, thinking stops after the capital investment is made. Yet everyone needs to be thinking in terms of life-cycle costs,” stated Glen Brown, Chair of Asset Management BC

“The core document for asset management for BC local governments is Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. The title is deliberate and important because the ‘function’ and responsibility of Municipal Councils and Regional Boards is Sustainable Service Delivery. The process to support decision making is Asset Management. While much attention and discussion focus on the Asset Management plan or plans, there is much more to the process than just the plan,” stated Glen Brown.

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A SENSE OF PURPOSE IS POWERFUL MOTIVATION: “The City of Nanaimo has a culture of commitment to community, risk-taking and innovation. But you really see the effect of good governance on the willingness to take risks,” stated Bill Sims, General Manager, Engineering & Public Works

“There is something within the culture of the City of Nanaimo that says I care about the people I work with; I care about my community; I care about doing the right thing. It is a sense of higher purpose that most of the staff seem to carry with them. During times of good governance, creativity re-emerges, and the momentum of the organization accelerates. When Council is very careful to be respectful of staff, and always to be respectful in their own debates, it is startling how positive the effect is on the organization,” stated Bill Sims.

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What provincial downloading means for local governments

“We have taken on responsibilities downloaded by the provincial government because we have a necessity to get things done. Yet downloading is especially hard on regional districts because of the demands it places on everyone to pick up the slack. We need a provincial hammer. But there is nobody on the ground to take responsibility and follow through to resolve issues and concerns. How do we get everybody up to speed and working together when participation on committees is not a provincial priority to help local government?” asked Lori Iannidinardo.

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Ecological Accounting – what’s in a NUMBER?

“In this edition, the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s Tim Pringle shares the story behind the story of the ‘pattern of discovery’ that led him to the BC Assessment database. In developing the EAP methodology and metrics, he has demonstrated that ‘the parcel’ is the lynchpin for integrating line items for M&M of streams systems in asset management budgets. Three decades ago, the philosophy that ‘use and conservation of land are equal values’ launched Tim Pringle on a career trajectory that has culminated with his breakthrough accomplishment in leading the EAP initiative,” stated Kim Stephens.

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TEAM SUNSHINE COAST – REGIONAL APPROACH TO WATER SECURITY: “In the oral history of the Sunshine Coast, I believe the 2021 Watershed Dialogue will be viewed as an important moment, an inflection point, for the regional team approach,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish, Town of Gibsons

“The idea behind the Watershed Dialogue was to bring everyone together around something that we can all agree on as issue – and that is water supply security. Recharge of the water supply aquifer occurs in the rural area above the town. Afterwards, elected representatives from Sechelt said that they now understood the water issue from the Town of Gibsons perspective, recognize how everything is interrelated and why the aquifer must be protected,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish.

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ACCOUNTANTS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO ACCOUNT FOR NATURAL ASSETS: “The risk with the accounting profession is that they would include natural assets in local government financial statements in a way that is neither meaningful nor helpful,” believes Wally Wells, well-known to BC local governments as an Asset Management Master, Mentor and Coach

“People look at asset management as a function, but it is not a function. It is a process, and the process for getting you to Sustainable Service Delivery is asset management. You cannot legislate a process. For this reason, I am really, really, really nervous about the way the accounting profession will try to treat natural assets in a financial statement. Accountants do not know how to deal with the subject of natural asset management. If accountants cannot explain it properly, then inclusion of natural assets in PSAB 3150 is either going to be dismissed in practice and/or done poorly. In my view, that is the bottom-line,” stated Wally Wells.

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CREATING OUR FUTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Reconciling the disconnect between short-term and long-term thinking

“Longtermism is about taking seriously just how big the future could be and how high the stakes are in shaping it. What we do now will affect untold numbers of future people. We need to act wisely. We aren’t helpless in the face of challenges. Longtermism can inspire concrete actions, here and now. But society tends to neglect the future in favor of the present. Future people are utterly disenfranchised. They can’t vote or lobby or run for public office, so politicians have scant incentive to think about them. They are the true silent majority,” stated William MacAskill.

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