Inspired by the work of the Bowker Creek Initiative in the Capital Regional District, “A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley” was completed in 2015. A Joint Staff Workshop hosted by the Comox Valley Regional District in December 2015 commenced the formal rollout of this guidance document.
Below, the article that follows the YouTube video (11 minutes) features the remarks of Kim Stephens. He provided an inter-regional perspective on the benefits of collaboration and the importance of the Water Balance Methodology. Kim is the Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
TO LEARN MORE: Click on Inter-Regional Perspective to download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens, and follow along as he elaborates on key messages.
Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management
“The Comox Valley is part of a bigger local government team. This means you benefit from, you contribute to, and you leverage inter-regional collaboration,” stated Kim Stephens when he introduced the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative and explained how it provides a backdrop for, and informs the content in, A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley.
“By 2017, a program goal is that all local governments would understand how to achieveSustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management,” he said.
When reflecting on the impact of the 2015 drought on public consciousness, Kim Stephens noted that: “Southwest BC dodged a bullet this year. We were saved by a couple of days of rain in August. This is a wake up call for everyone in local government. This is why the Water-Wise Guide is timely and relevant.”
“Looking back in time, our Aha in 2000 was recognizing that we do have the ability to manage rain once it reaches the ground.”
What Happens on the Land Matters
“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework will change how we do business in BC. It is a regulatory driver that provides a financial incentive for integration of watershed systems thinking into asset management,” observed Kim Stephens.
“The first priority for local governments is to get core services in order. Then add ‘watershed thinking’ to the BC Framewok. It won’t happen overnight. It is a process and you will all be part of it in the Comox Valley. The technical foundation is the Water Balance Methodology which underpins the Water Balance Express.”
“As we look ahead, one of the next steps is accreditation. What we see is a gap in practitioner education and professional development. Our objective is to create a pool of trained and qualified practitioners of the Water Balance Methodology. From a local government perspective, you have to know what it is you want so that you know that you are getting the right stuff. And you need that assurance that what you are getting in the way of analyses is being completed correctly.”
“In that context, the Comox Valley will be our demonstration region in terms of us taking one of the regions to work closely with. In addition, there is now the opportunity for the Comox Valley and Cowichan Valley to work in tandem. In November 2015, the Cowichan Board adopted a resolution instructing staff to report back on how to integrate the Water Balance Express into the development approval process. This is why there is an opportunity to leverage each other’s work,” concluded Kim Stephens.
To Learn More:
The “Beyond the Guidebook Primer Series” supports implementation of targets and actions listed in Living Water Smart: British Columbia’s Water Plan. The targets and actions establish expectations as to how land will be (re)developed so that stream and watershed health are protected and/or restored.
The Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health is the fifth in a series of guidance documents that form the basis for knowledge-transfer via the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI).
The goal in producing the “Beyond the Guidebook Primer Series” is to facilitate inter-regional collaboration, such that sharing and cross-fertilization of experience and understanding helps all local governments go farther, more efficiently and effectively.