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Fort Nelson Dene director named B.C. Land Champion

Fort Nelson First Nation director Lana Lowe, who “has made enormous contributions to manage and p...

Fort Nelson First Nation director Lana Lowe, who “has made enormous contributions to manage and protect water, land, and wildlife habitat,” will receive the 2018 Land Champion Award from The Real Estate Foundation of B.C.

IMAGE: Lana Lowe of the Fort Nelson First Nation has been named the 2018 B.C. Land Champion Award winner. (Image courtesy Land Awards B.C.)

Lana Lowe of the Fort Nelson First Nation has been named the 2018 B.C. Land Champion Award winner. (Image courtesy Land Awards B.C.)

The award recognizes a person who has made a significant impact on land use, conservation, and/or real estate practices in the province.

Lowe, a Dene from Fort Nelson First Nation, is director of lands for the region and has led work to manage the impacts of oil and gas development in the Nation’s territory.

She is one of two winners announced this week. Veronika Bylicki and Tesicca Truong will share the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the impact a new leader is having on land use, conservation, or real estate.

Winners in three other categories will be announced at the Land Awards Gala on Oct. 11 in Vancouver at Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

The awards and gala celebrate sustainable projects related to land use and real estate. Awards have been given for affordable housing, urban agriculture initiatives, Indigenous-led conservation plans, freshwater ecosystem protections, and more.

Land Champion and Emerging Leader

Lowe laid the groundwork for a framework for land and water management based in both Dene knowledge and values and scientific approaches to ecosystem management.

She helped establish community-led research and water monitoring programs, collaborated with governments, industry, NGOs and academia, and created a community databank used in impacts assessment, regulatory and policy review, land use planning, and legal actions. Her efforts have helped prevent over-extraction of water for fracking, and also protected threatened caribou populations.

Truong and Bylicki co-founded CityHive to engage youth in civic affairs and sustainability. They have launched two pop-up “think-and-do” tanks, formed youth hubs on city-building, and advocated for youth inclusion in city planning.

Together, the duo have tackled issues such as housing affordability, public spaces, and civic engagement.

Land Use and Conservation Finalists

This award category includes land and community planning projects, conservation and ecosystem protection, and restoration of land affected by resource development.

B.C. First Nations Land Use Planning HandbookNaut’sa mawt Tribal Council

For First Nations communities, land use planning is a way to tell their Nation’s story, make decisions about land and resources, and assert their rights to self-governance. The council led efforts to create the handbook, which walks communities through the steps needed to prepare for planning, make decisions, act on a plan, and reflect on outcomes.

Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, Smart Prosperity Institute, Brooke and Associates, David Suzuki Foundation, and the Town of Gibsons

Natural features and ecosystems such as marshes, forests, and shorelines provide stormwater absorption, water filtration, erosion control, and other benefits. The initiative helps communities to “count” these natural assets and assign a value equivalent to the service a human-built asset would provide. In this way, municipalities can make a strong financial case for protection and conservation, while relying less on engineered assets.

Embracing Our Potential, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

The association developed a 10-year tourism strategy employing GeoFence technology to coordinate marketing and influence the flow of tourists. This connects visitors to the right experiences, at the right time, minimizing negative impacts in the sector, which generates $2.2 billion annually. Last year, the region was the first in the Americas to be identified as a Biosphere Certified Destination.

Built Environment Finalists

This award category includes community planning, as well as housing, transportation, buildings, and infrastructure.

Olivia Skye, Atira Development Society

Olivia Skye, located in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, includes 198 homes for women-led households. The building’s mix of studio and one-bedroom units are rented at rates affordable at a range of incomes. Olivia Skye is built to LEED Gold standards.

B.C.’s Affordable Housing Plan, BC Non-Profit Housing Association

With support from the B.C. Rental Housing Coalition, the B.C. Non-Profit Association created a 10-year plan to reduce affordable housing challenges across the province. The plan draws on existing data and makes specific, costed recommendations. The province has committed $1.9 billion to funding its component of the plan.

B.C. Energy Step Code, Energy Step Code Council

The province has committed to ensuring all new buildings will be net-zero energy-ready by 2032. To help achieve this, a group of industry and local government experts worked to develop the B.C. Energy Step Code. It sets energy-efficiency targets and challenges designers and builders to meet them.

Nuutsumuut Lelum, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre

With nearly half of Nanaimo renters spending more than they can afford on housing costs, there is a huge need for affordable rentals, especially for Indigenous families. Nuutsummut Lelum includes 25 new townhomes for community members, at rents families can afford. They are built to Passive House design standards.

Fresh Water and Food Systems finalists

This award recognizes projects which help communities protect freshwater ecosystems, manage and conserve water, or build local and sustainable food systems.

Young Agrarians Land Matching Program, FarmFolk CityFolk

For new farmers, high farmland prices present a barrier to entry. For farmers reaching retirement age, leasing their land can provide income while supporting them to age in place. The program pairs these two groups and offers a variety of support services. To date, Young Agrarians has heard from 500 interested farmers and landowners.

Southwest BC Food System Design Project, Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

The Southwest B.C. bioregion surrounding Metro Vancouver includes 101,000 hectares of food-producing land and can hypothetically grow enough to meet 40 per cent of local food need. To better understand the region’s food production potential, the KPU team created a model to explore the potential for local food and its impacts.

POLIS Water Sustainability Project, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria

The project works to drive innovation in the province’s water laws, policies, and governance. The POLIS team has led research influencing B.C.’s Water Sustainability Act. Today, it works with researchers, local governments, First Nations, and funders to make policy recommendations, support watershed governance, and build capacity for community water protection.

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