THERE IS NO TIME TO RE-INVENT THE WHEEL: “We are a movement built around water sustainability,” stated Ray Fung, a founding director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, in his closing reflections on what he heard at the Summit at the Bastion in Nanaimo


Note to Reader:

Published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. Storylines accommodate a range of reader attention spans. Read the headline and move on, or take the time to delve deeper – it is your choice!  Downloadable versions are available at Living Water Smart in British Columbia: The Series.

The edition published on January 23, 2024 featured the Partnership’s Annual Report 2023. The document is written to inform and engage the reader through a storytelling approach to sharing of information.


There is no time to re-invent the wheel

Growing a network breaks all the rules of conventional thinking. It is the antithesis of building an organization that has staff. Instead, the network aligns individuals and organizations to deliver results across organizational boundaries.

However, a network that is guided by a collaborative leadership philosophy does require a nucleus or “engine” for legal and organizational continuity. The Partnership for Water Sustainability serves that function for our local government partners within the Georgia Basin bioregion.

Ensuring continuity of the network comes down to how organizations continue WITHIN the network.

Summit at the Bastion in Nanaimo

Last October, the Partnership for Water Sustainability brought together some 30 ambassadors representing a dozen organizations. They participated in a consultation session around what some might view as an existential topic:


Going forward, this watershed moment will forever be known as the Summit at the Bastion in Nanaimo. At the conclusion, Ray Fung summarized and reflected on aha moments that emerged during the sharing session.

“Emotion is important. Relationships are important,” stated Ray Fung. “It is not just the science and the work itself but the emotion that seems to bind us together in this purpose. And so storytelling becomes a really important way of pointing out successes. BE THE NEXT SUCCESS STORY.”

Ray Fung’s reflections are included in the Partnership’s Annual Report 2023 and thus provide a record of the summit outcome.



“One ambassador described the Summit at the Bastion in Nanaimo as a turning point in our convening for action story. But it can be so much more. In fact, it will be the springboard to creating a future which so many of us desire, one which coalesces around a shared vision for Water Reconciliation,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Partnership Executive Director.

The Partnership is seen as a resource that is stable, that is there, and that people can draw upon,” observed Ray Fung. But the founding leadership team is aging out. Growing and sustaining the network through time is very much about finding those to whom we can pass the baton, now and in the future.”

“Within the Partnership legal entity, we view succession as an intergenerational commitment. The 70-yr-olds pass the baton to the 60-yr-olds… who in turn groom the 50-yr-olds…and so on and so on and so on.”

The Partnership is viewed as a movement built around water sustainability

Ray Fung captured the mood of the summit with this summation:

“I liked the comment that THIS IS A MOVEMENT. I find that is really inspiring to not see ourselves just as a network. We are a movement built around water sustainability. We leave the summit inspired to figure out how the FORM of the Partnership will follow the FUNCTION.”

“We can learn things from expanding our perspective. Part of that holistic approach includes the SPIRITUAL as well as the physical connection to the land.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Partnership for Water Sustainability’s 3-Year Transition Strategy for ensuring continuity of the network – as explained by Ted van der Gulik, President

Extracted from Annual Report 2023, the “story behind the story” is a 450-word essay written by Ted van der Gulik for his President’s Perspective. He paints a broad-brush picture of where the Partnership is heading.

We did what we said we would do!

“A challenge confronting our society is widespread organizational amnesia. The baby boomers have more or less gone out the door. And with them has gone so much oral history. Knowledge and experience are not being passed on. Organizational amnesia is the consequence,” wrote Ted van der Gulik.

“It is a race against time to pass on knowledge and experience. It feels like the gap caused by loss of understanding is widening. When those coming into organizations do not know what they do not know, loss of understanding of the WHAT, WHY and HOW is a cause of concern in managing expectations.”

Our mission is intergenerational in scope

“The Partnership is the engine for a network in the local government setting. Our mission is intergenerational. This means we are striving to bridge the gap in understanding; and we are doing what we can to help governments overcome organizational amnesia.”

“The clock is ticking, and we are working hard to shape this outcome: what the Partnership and associated network will look like after the Year 2025. At the end of Year One, we can proudly state that we accomplished what we set out to accomplish in 2023. We exceeded our own expectations. We are ahead of schedule in moving forward with the strategy for network continuity.”

We must look back to see ahead

“In 2023, the Partnership had two over-arching objectives. One was to connect with a new generation of provincial decisionmakers and staff. The other was to bring our Ambassadors Program to the forefront of provincial and local government awareness. We accomplished both objectives, and all the way up to Premier David Eby, as we proceeded down three parallel tracks to:
  • WATER TOOLS – Find a permanent home for a suite of online tools that the provincial water management program already relies on for water licensing. These tools provide a powerful capability for water sustainability planning as envisioned in the Province’s Watershed Security Strategy.
  • ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS (EAP) – Train next generations of planners and local government staff to tackle the riparian deficit along urban streams. The EAP methodology and metrics address the disconnect in the Riparian Area Protection Regulation (RPAR) between land use oversight and direct responsibility for maintenance and management of stream condition.
  • BLUE ECOLOGY – Build a bridge between two cultures through a water-first approach, one that embraces lessons learned from Indigenous oral history and imbues a change in attitude among water managers. We describe this desired outcome as Water Reconciliation.”
“We have started to engage government with training and will continue through 2024. We also convened the inaugural Ambassadors of the Partnership Forum and will build on the energy that it generated. It is full speed ahead down all three tracks!”



About the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

Technical knowledge alone is not enough to resolve water challenges facing BC. Making things happen in the real world requires an appreciation and understanding of human behaviour, combined with a knowledge of how decisions are made. It takes a career to figure this out.

The Partnership has a primary goal, to build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. To achieve the goal, the Partnership is growing a network in the local government setting. This network embraces collaborative leadership and inter-generational collaboration.