RESTORATIVE DEVELOPMENT: Local government initiatives on Vancouver Island are “getting it right” / Learn more at Parksville 2019 / April 2-3-4

Note to Reader:

The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed does matter to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! While BC communities may not be able to restore lost biodiversity, they can certainly halt its decline and consciously direct evolution toward a richer future, that is: “make where we live better”.

At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, you will learn how communities can apply science-based understanding to increase their restorative footprint and at the same time decrease their destructive footprint. You will also learn about local government initiatives that are ‘getting it right’ and are moving along pathways that lead to restorative development. Follow these leaders!

Join us in the City of Parksville on the east coast of mid-Vancouver Island for a field day on April 2, followed by a 2-day symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate on April 3rd and 4th. The daily symposium themes are Sustainable Stream Restoration and Restorative Land Development, respectively. An evening lecture by Storm Cunningham is the bridge between the two days. Storm Cunningham will also close the symposium with an inspirational message.

To Learn More:




“A core message of restorative development is that we can decrease our destructive footprint while at the same time increasing our restorative footprint,” emphasizes Storm Cunningham, author & global thought leader 

And Then a Miracle!

“In the late ’90s, I began noticing a miraculous new trend: a number of places – both ecosystems and communities – were actually getting better, some spectacularly so,” wrote Storm Cunningham in The Restoration Economy, his first book, published in 2002.

“I began investigating this seeming miracle and discovered a monstrously huge, almost entirely hidden economic sector. It was restoring our world – both our built environment and our natural environment – and it already accounted for over a trillion dollars per year. But nobody was paying it any attention!”

A Vast Frontier of Opportunity:

“During the last two decades of the twentieth century, we failed to notice a turning point of immense significance,” continued Storm Cunningham. “New development – the development mode that has dominated the past three centuries – lost significant ‘market share’ to another mode:restorative development. How could we miss a story like that?

“The major driver of economic growth in the twenty-first century will be redeveloping our nations, revitalizing our cities, and rehabilitating and expanding our ecosystems. This is not some wistful vision of the future: it’s already happening. Restoration comprises the largest new economic growth cycle since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

“Development has arrived at the ends of the Earth. Progress has nowhere to turn, except to revisit and restore what we’ve already wrought,” concluded Storm Cunningham.

April 3 – Sustainable Stream Restoration

Among land and drainage practitioners, how water gets to a stream and how long it takes, is still not well understood. Failure to grasp and apply the fundamentals of creekshed hydrology, plus institutional reluctance to change 20th century engineering practices, are root causes of degraded urban streams.

On April 3, the four cascading modules in the Parksville 2019 program are designed to equip stewardship groups so that they can function as effective champions for reconnecting hydrology and ecology. Hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. This concept is a foundation piece for restorative land development that results in Sustainable Stream Restoration.

Action Based on Understanding Hydrology:

Parksville 2019 will delve into the science behind the Whole-System, Water Balance approach to rainwater management. Drawing upon the Kitsap County experience of Dr. Chris May, for example, a key message is that working at multiple scales to restore natural flow regimes would both reduce the destructive footprint AND increase the restorative footprint of land development.

Parksville 2019 will also showcase a provincial government initiative to involve the stewardship sector in creekshed hydrology and thereby fill a data collection gap. A key message is that stewardship groups have the local knowledge to understand the water resource, and are the most invested and most connected to the land base.

April 4 – Restorative Land Development

“The goal of making the world ‘less worse’ does not go far enough. Rather, we have it within our power to undo previous damage and make the world better. My Aha Moment occurred around 1990 when I volunteered to assist a German scientist with a project in Jamaica. He was working on a really unique and effective technology for restoring coral reefs quickly. That’s when the idea of a restoration economy hit me,” states Storm Cunningham.
  • Storm Cunningham’s Working Definition: Restorative development is a mode of economic activity that returns property, structures, or objects to an earlier condition, transforms them into a healthier and/or more functional condition, or replaces an unsalvageable structure without consuming more land.

Vancouver Island Success Stories:

Parksville 2019 is a ‘sharing & learning’ opportunity for cross-fertilization of experience gained over the past decade within four Vancouver Island regional districts to “make where we live better”. Their experience shows that the restorative development journey is a process that requires long-term commitment, patience and perseverance by champions.

Lessons learned in the other regions will inform the Action Plan update for the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program. The first decade of the Plan (2009-2018) built a strong foundation of public outreach and science. The focus moving into the next operational period is using awareness and data to inform water policy and planning.