Peter Law

    FOREST FIRES AND MASS EVACUATIONS: In 2023, history repeated itself in the Kelowna region

    “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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Erik Karlsen and the Streamside Protection Regulation

    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).

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    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.

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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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