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BC Water Sustainability Action Plan

    How much should communities invest in protection of stream systems?


    “It is amazing that we have been able to produce a methodology that defines what a stream is, can find the value of the stream using impartial BC Assessment data, and add to that a riparian assessment that looks at the 30m zone and a further 200m upland area to evaluate the water balance condition and what is happening to water pathways,” stated Tim Pringle. “Because local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes, we landed on a concept which we call the Riparian Deficit. This expresses three measures of value in a single number.”

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    Why land development and watershed protection can be compatible


    “When the Guidebook was released, this capability to set targets gave the steering committee the confidence to be bold and state: land development and watershed protection can be compatible. In 2002, this statement represented a radical shift in thinking. It became known as ‘the Guidebook premise’. We were hopeful that all the players would embrace shared responsibility and communities would move from stopgap remediation to long-term restoration of properly functioning streams. We are not there yet,” stated Peter Law.

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    Why the City of Coquitlam is a beacon of stability


    “Elected officials ought to take great pains to hire the right people. And then take their advice. I really want elected officials to understand that if you do not have the right people working for you, then get the right people. If you do have the right people, let them do their work,” stated Mayor Richard Stewart. “I truly believe that the goal is to get us in alignment so that staff are guiding us with their expertise, and that the policy decisions that we make are consistent with the staff recommendations and advice. I work with Council to make sure everyone understands that. And by and large, we have now reached that shared understanding.”

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    Four counter-intuitive guiding principles for effective collaboration


    “I am always eager to find others who are working in this way and support them in any way that I can. Every so often I check to find out what is going on in the network space and saw the Partnership’s great work and how you are getting great impacts through the Living Water Smart Network. When I reached out to the Partnership, I thought I am thrilled to see that they are using my work. And maybe I can support them in their efforts because I love to see people doing this – because I know it works. The frustration for me is that there aren’t more people doing it,” stated Dr. Jane Wei-Skillern.

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    AVOID THE PAIN, BE DELIBERATE, FUND THE PLAN: “Asset management for sustainable service delivery” is how communities can bridge the gap, or disconnect, between short-term and long-term thinking


    Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. “My inspiration came from Guy Felio, one of the original gurus of asset management nationally. Guy said, ‘It’s all about the service’, because infrastructure/ assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. That is what resonated with me. Also, Guy Felio said, for any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure asset by itself. That way-of-thinking applies to nature and the environment as well,” stated Glen Brown.

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    Natural Asset Management: cutting through the rhetoric – “Recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” says Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative


    “The land supports assets that provide services. And decisions are made at the parcel scale. Thus, we are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. This means we must understand the biology of land use. The human analogy is DNA. Only EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, deals with the parcel. Decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Thus, getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP bridges a gap. The methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” stated Tim Pringle.

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    ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY LEADER AS CATALYST: “Effective community engagement depends on involving people in decisions, sharing responsibility, and making them more accountable. This includes engaging generations, old and new. Our connection to the past should inform the future,” stated Ian Graeme, community leader and founder, Friends of Bowker Creek Society


    “In 1995, I got involved in a Local Area Plan that was under development in Saanich; and started advocating for changes in watershed and stream protection policies. To draw attention to the need for action, I organized a series of community walks and developed a ‘watershed tour’ slideshow and took it around the community. When we incorporated the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, the mid 1990s was a time of a greenways movement in BC. This became one of our four goals: create a Bowker greenway to increase access to the creek. If more people became familiar with the creek, we believed, public interest would drive creek restoration,” stated Ian Graeme.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT IS AN AWKWARD TERM AND CONFUSES EVERYONE: “We have managed assets for decades and understand what that is and what we are doing. Suddenly we took two very simple words, reversed them, and went from managing assets to asset management. The result? We confused everyone,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC


    “An issue we have in communicating our message often seems to relate to the use and interpretation or misinterpretation of words or phrases. Too often we use technical terms within our own skill sets, not appreciating that others may not know what we are really saying. Asset Management, itself, is an intimidating term. The process of asset management or ‘managing assets’, is not new. The process, as defined today, just leads to better decisions across the entire organization for priority setting with limited budgets. However, we have succeeded in confusing everyone,” stated Wally Wells.

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    CARING ABOUT TOMORROW: “Touching the past can connect us to the future,” says Jamil Zaki, professor of psychology at Stanford University


    “Empathy is built on self-preservation. We watch out for our children because they carry our genes, for our tribe because it offers sex, safety and sustenance. Spreading our care across space and time runs counter to those ancient instincts. Empathy evolved as one of humans’ vital survival skills. It is only through our foray into the modern world that we have lost touch with our evolutionary empathy. Deeply empathic people tend to be environmentally responsible,” stated Jamil Zaki.

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    STRENGTHENING THE FOUNDATION FOR WATER LAW IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Once-in-a-decade opportunity for water sustainability in BC


    “In a nutshell, ‘vesting’ is the legal concept that has historically been used to establish the government’s authority to write the laws that govern water use in BC. This means that any use of water that is unvested remains outside of those provincial laws. Vesting all water does not mean the use of every drop will or needs to be regulated. That concern is a red herring. The real issue centres on what government cannot do when the water use involves unvested water,” stated Mike Wei.

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