MAKE WHERE WE LIVE BETTER: Local government initiatives on Vancouver Island are “getting it right” / Learn more at Parksville 2019 / April 2-3-4

Note to Reader:

While BC communities may not be able to restore lost biodiversity, they can certainly halt its decline and consciously direct efforts into bending the trend-line in an upwards direction, that is: “make where we live better”. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend a ‘watershed moment’ in Parksville.

A field day on April 2 is followed by a 2-day symposium about Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate on April 3-4. Each day features a prominent headline speaker from the United States. Cross-border collaboration expands our horizons and connects us with a larger body of experience!

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!

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.





At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, learn why and how local government partnerships with stewardship groups can be transformational and ‘make where we live better’

Day 1 – Sustainable Stream Restoration

IN MODULE A, Dr. Chris May will set the tone for the symposium when he explains the science behind theWhole-System, Water Balance Approach. In the 1990s, his pioneer research in collaboration with Dr. Richard Horner shook the very foundations of conventional stormwater management practice. Their findings resulted in a hydrology-based framework for protecting watershed health. A lesson learned is that historical practice has disconnected hydrology from ecology. The consequences of this disconnect are more erosion and flooding, and loss of baseflow and aquatic habitat.

IN MODULE B, a 5-person panel will engage participants in a Town-Hall Session titled Watershed Health and You. The story of the Englishman River Recovery Plan, and the catalyst role subsequently played by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, will inform the discussion of what a Whole-System approach looks like, and what it would mean to reconnect hydrology and ecology.

MODULE C will be conducted as a ‘mini-workshop within the symposium’ by a provincial government team from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. A Ministry initiative is mobilizing stewardship groups and community volunteers to collect streamflow data, and thus fill a gap. The pace of a workshop-type format, with the emphasis on taking the time for audience interaction, is designed to help the streamkeepers in the audience wrap their minds around the content. This would result in an enhanced educational outcome. Practitioners would also benefit from this approach to knowledge-transfer.

MODULE D is the book-end for the day. A key message is that decades of in-stream restoration work have not been sustainable because communities have not addressed the root causes of ‘changes of hydrology’. For more than two decades, communities have known what needs to be done differently vis-a-vis land development and drainage practices, but have not done so in either a consistent or universal manner. Module D is the bridge to Day Two. Another key message is that restorative land development results in sustainable stream restoration.

Day 2 – Restorative Land Development

April 4th also comprises four cascading modules, and these are described as follows:

In MODULE A, the spotlight is on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program (DWWP). Ten years ago, the RDN embarked on delivering a service never before established by a Regional District in BC. The first decade of the Plan (2009-2018) built a strong foundation of public outreach and science. In 2019, the RDN is updating their Action Plan for DWWP to incorporate learnings from the implementation thus far, and integrate elements that will be the focus of an actionable vision for the next decade and more.

IN MODULE B, a 4-person panel will engage participants in a Town-Hall Session titled Make Where We Live Better. The panel will build on Module A’s “actionable vision” theme, and will prime the audience for the the town-hall segment by sharing vignettes about success stories in four regional districts along the east coast of Vancouver Island. Inspirational in scope, these long-term and emerging initiatives demonstrate what is achievable when there is a restoration imperative. The town-hall segment will focus on how the lessons learned to date might inform the RDN’s DWWP Action Plan update.

MODULE C will showcase two long-term creek initiatives that represent a range of situations: Bowker in the urban heart of the Capital Region; Brooklyn in the suburban Comox Valley. They are beacons of hope. Degraded over generations, and buried for much of its length, Bowker restoration demonstrates how a good strategy is the path to success. Implementation is approaching the second decade and is bringing the creek back to life. Situated within the Town of Comox, the lower Brooklyn Creek Corridor is a regional amenity destination. Lessons learned from the Brooklyn experience are informing implementation of a whole-system, water balance strategy for development that protects and enhances the package of ecological services made possible by the hydrology.

IN MODULE D, Storm Cunningham will reflect on what he heard throughout the 2-day symposium. He will connect dots when he relates Vancouver Island initiatives to the essential ingredients for restorative land development: a vision, strategy to deliver the vision, and commitment to implement an ongoing program. He will emphasize that the process of restoring our planet and revitalizing our communities is becoming a rigorous discipline, with the proper education and tools.