Stewardship Ethic and Shared Responsibility
The Bower Creek Initiative (BCI) in the urban heartland of British Columbia's Capital Region has gone well beyond any other plan in terms of how it has achieved consensus; and how it has galvanized commitment to move from planning to action on the ground. It is informing a provincial ‘course correction’ in how to develop a 'watershed blueprint' that is affordable and effective, and create a legacy.
Ian Graeme is a volunteer watershed steward and a founding member of the BCI Steering Committee. He has an affinity for creeks that is rooted in his childhood. His actions as an adult are guided by a community stewardship ethic.
“Community leadership is founded on trust and mutual respect. It is also about leading by example; being inclusive and collaborative; being patient, positive and staying the course. These are phrases that his colleagues used when describing Ian Graeme’s leadership style," reported Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, in an article published in 2010.
“When Ian Graeme told me the story of the genesis of the Bowker Creek Initiative, my Ah-Ha moment was seeing why he epitomizes what can be accomplished through the ‘power of one’."
Ian Graeme: In His Own Words
“Five generations of my family have lived in Victoria. As a child, Bowker Creek was a place to explore and cultivate my curiosity. Looking back, a defining moment for me was in the early 1970s. Riding my bike to and from school, I recall my disappointment as a section of creek was progressively culverted," states Ian Graeme.
“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.”
Delivering the Blueprint: “The Bowker Creek story is more than about producing a plan,” states Ian Graeme. “It is about engaging the community. If the community is actively engaged, they will take greater responsibility for delivery.”
“My Ah-Ha moment was when I realized that the three municipalities could not deliver a plan for stream and watershed restoration – unless the community drives and supports delivery.”
“Effective community engagement depends on involving people in decisions, sharing responsibility and also making them more accountable. This includes engaging generations, old and new. Our connection to the past should inform the future," concludes Ian Graeme.
TO LEARN MORE: To download a comprehensive article about community engagement in the Bowker Creek watershed, click on Shared Responsibility: Community Perspectives on Developing and Implementing the 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration.