Michael Blackstock believes that a message of hope is paramount in these times of droughts, forest fires and floods. “Rather than looking through a cumulative effects lens, I also see the concept of ‘cumulative healing’ landing as a way to give back to water and land. Rather than wondering how much more can we take or impact land before we need to stop, instead we should ask how much longer should we let the water and land heal, before we ask for more,” states Michael Blackstock.
“Mother Nature has an amazing sense of timing. On the 20th anniversary of the evacuation of 27,000 people from Kelowna due to forest fires, history repeated itself in August in the Kelowna region, in particular West Kelowna. We have had two decades to prepare for the obvious and the inevitable. 2003 was the first of a series of teachable years, with the full onslaught of a changing climate hitting hard as of 2015. Climate change is accelerating. There is no time to re-invent the wheel, fiddle, or go down cul-de-sacs. Understand how the past informs the future and build on that experience,” stated Kim Stephens.
LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We have raised expectations that communities can do a better job of managing land and water. But what happens if knowledge, experience and the lessons we are learning are not passed on or are lost?” – a question posed in 2007 by Jay Bradley, Chair of the Vancouver Island Coordinating Team
This edition brings to a close the current season (January through June 2023) of the Waterbucket eNews weekly newsletter series. We celebrate the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. During the past 5-month period, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has published 20 feature stories. This finale edition constitutes our “season in review”. To refresh reader memories about the topics and how much ground we have covered, we have brought forward the headline plus defining quotable quote from each of the 20 storylines.
EXPERIMENT IN COLLABORATION: Comox Valley was an early adopter when the region embraced the vision for Sustainable Service Delivery for infrastructure asset management
“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery is much more than just about the physical infrastructure. It is more than just about setting some money aside for infrastructure replacement. It must be a comprehensive and integrated approach that links the past, present and future.,” stated Geoff Garbutt, City of Manager, City of Courtenay. The Comox Valley was the first region to embrace the vision for Sustainable Service Delivery as a regional goal. This was in 2011, four years before the BC Framework was jointly released by UBCM and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
RURAL CONSITUENCIES WANT A VOICE: “The Keeping It Rural Conference is bringing together 90 community leaders from all parts of the province to map a path forward for the rurals,” stated Barry Janyk, Executive Director of the BC Rural Centre
“Because I know a lot of people, the board of the BC Rural Centre asked me to go out and ask some questions. So, I came up with a list, had the conversations, and produced a laundry list of issues. An observation is that rural issues tend not to be the issues that capture attention. In large part, that is the reason we are undertaking the Keeping It Rural Conference. To pull the shawl back on the issues that are the elephants in the room,” stated Barry Janyk.
CONVENING FOR ACTION IN THE COMOX VALLEY: “Trust is the currency of collaborative work, which the climate and every other societal crisis requires,” stated Nancy Gothard, Manager of Community and Sustainability Planning with the City of Courtenay
“There is a book called the speed of trust. The message really resonates with me. The reality now is we cannot keep up with the pace of work and there is a lot of tension in community planning work. Trusting the person on the other side of the call makes a world of difference to being in a productive frame of mind, to not be afraid to test new ideas, and feel comfortable enough to offer constructive criticism. We need this creativity and the safe spaces to explore it as we grapple with levels of complexity our brains have trouble processing,” stated Nancy Gothard.
HEALTHY WATERS PROGRAM FOR SALMON, WHALES, AND PEOPLE: “I think what is happening now is that we have lost touch with our watersheds,” stated Dr. Peter Ross of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation
“For Healthy Waters, we basically said, we would like to set up a community-oriented water pollution monitoring program for salmon, whales and people. Every conversation that I am having with watershed folks revolves around people wanting to know more so that they are empowered to do more. There is real value in the conversation and providing the data that helps them identify priorities and actions,” stated Peter Ross.
With release of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in 2004, a “design with nature” philosophy became an integral part of the branding for green infrastructure, rainwater management and water sustainability in BC. In 2015, the legendary Erik Karlsen created a matrix to explain how to integrate two foundational concepts that provide a path forward for designing with nature: Daniel Pauly’s Shifting Baseline Syndrome (1995); and Richard Horner and Chris May’s Road Map for Protecting Stream System Integrity (1996).
SHELLY CREEK PARK IN PARKSVILLE IS A LIVING LABATORY: “The City of Parksville’s decision in the 1990s to create a greenway along Shelly Creek resulted in an ecological legacy for fish and residents,” Peter Law, Past-President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES)
Peter Law has put his time and energy into Shelly Creek, as do many other stream stewards in their watersheds around BC, such that Shelly Creek has become a “living laboratory” for the local Parksville community to enjoy. “Enhanced riparian greenways like Shelly Creek Park allow fish to survive in natural conditions without encroachment issues. That 1990s decision to create an enhanced linear park showed great foresight. The proof of the pudding is that it saved the resident Cutthroat trout population during the heat dome and extreme drought of 2021,” stated Peter Law.
BC’s PATH TO FOOD SECURITY IS THRU WATER SECURITY: “When we think of all the changes in thinking that we have gone through in the last 50 years, the Land Commission Act really is a testament to the incredible foresight demonstrated in 1973,” stated Joan Sawicki, former MLA
“At a time when most other jurisdictions continue to lose their food lands, BC’s ALR remains the most successful agricultural land preservation program in North America. With food security now becoming a top-of-mind public issue, thanks to the foresight demonstrated in 1973 we still have “the land” – and I submit we would not still have the option for viable agricultural sectors in high growth areas like the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan without the ALR. The ALR has been doing exactly what it was designed to do,” stated Joan Sawicki.