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Published On: April 27, 2022

This past Saturday a friend and I drove up to the Tranquille Diversion Dam in Lac Du Bois to clean screens and adjust dam gates that control water flows. Cattle are back on the land. Soon we will need increased water pressure to drive pasture irrigation sprinklers on the east end of the farm. Spring runoff with its leaves, branches, and pine needles, held against the three 4 x 8-foot metal diversion dam screens by rising water volumes, was stopping the flow of water needed for our gravity fed, irrigation sprinkler heads to work.

Cleaning Tranquille Diversion Dam screens of the branches and pine needles delivered by the Tranquille River as spring snow melt in the high country follows its annual rhythm’s.

Without the costly rebuilding of our water system’s gravity fed (fossil free) infrastructure, including the replacement of parts of it, irrigation of the entire farm is impossible. An exciting aspect of the upcoming Tranquille Farm irrigation system restoration project will be the return of our capability to manage the river in times of drought to protect aquatic life including our precious fish stock. But that is a story for another time.

A spring calf  starting off a summer of grazing in Tranquille’s irrigated pasture.

On our way back we met up with two ladies who were identifying various kinds of leaves. We had an enjoyable conversation as we talked about the delightful morning they were having. I thought about this conversation on the way home, reflecting on the obvious enjoyment these nature wanderers were having interacting with each other and the diverse beauty of the Tranquille River valley.

Why do we enjoy spending time in our natural environment? Have you ever asked yourself this? I have, and I have concluded it is because humankind is an integral part of the natural systems around us. We do not live apart from them. We live in them. Without the underpinning of nature’s vast eco systems you and I would lose our spirituality, health, our communities, and our sense of wonder. We would eventually, cease to exist. On the other hand, without the stewardship each of us can exercise, nature’s assets will continue to diminish, ground down by insatiable human demand for Earth’s riches.

The good news is that all of us can do something positive about this. No one is exempt, including the Tranquille development team. What can our team do to restore the vitality of Tranquille’s community and natural systems? What can all Kamloopsians do to contribute to the flourishing growth of Kamloops and its natural assets?

Exploring the Tranquille River Valley. Credit: Tobi Simms

“Have you heard of restorative land development”? This question caught my attention when a lifelong friend of mine, a land developer and poet, asked me this question. I had never heard about land development designed to contribute to the natural, social, emotional, spiritual, and economic health of the planet. My friend went on to share a fascinating story about how a planning consultant they had hired challenged his team, to consider how land development could be a source of health and regeneration for the natural and economic systems which had historically existed in and around their 6,000-acre development site.

The response of his team to this challenge was the restoration of a mangrove estuary and its biodiversity through the application of traditional land development engineering and planning tools. The local government had bull dozed and filled in the estuary as part of an early plan to develop tourism. Over time the re-established estuary became a treasured asset of the Master Planned community built around it. Its flourishing diversity nourished the health and wellness of community residents who interacted with it while the subtle changes made to natural water flows throughout the development’s roadways sustained the estuary.

In restoring the estuary, the development team thought beyond the term “sustainability,” where humans struggle to hold the status quo by stopping further harm to natural systems but do little to repair the harm already done. They restored a natural system, unique to a specific place, while simultaneously creating a mutually beneficial, relationship between human and nonhuman residents on the land they were developing. It became a place of refuge and rejuvenation for community members, human and nonhuman. This important principle of restorative reciprocity between natural systems and humans guides the Tranquille development team’s planning process.

Learning how nature works. Credit: Tobi Simms

We invite YOU to join us in the coming weeks as we engage in a community wide conversation about how best to restoratively and respectfully rebuild Tranquille’s Riparian land, its Community land, & Farmland.

Sunset over Tranquille’s west fields and Cooney Bay.