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Vancouver Island Water

The island is a demonstration region for the ‘regional team approach’. Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other. CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island-Leadership in Water Sustainability, started with a conversation in 2005. Formally launched in September 2006, and funded by government, the form of the initiative has evolved over the years. The program has demonstrated what can be done through partnerships and collaboration.

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: "Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility," stated the Ministry of Environment's Lynn Kriwoken at the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series (Sept-Oct-Nov) on Getting Ahead of the Wave


Provincial programs provide direction as to where the Province wants to go with Living Water Smart and the Green Communities Initiative. “While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework. At the end of the day, planners and engineers and other disciplines must come together to determine the issues and solutions. No statute will help them do that. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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“CAVI” is moving forward under a new name – The Partnership on Vancouver Island: Leadership in Water Sustainability


“The VI2065 initiative envisions a Vancouver Island based on long-term sustainability and water resiliency models that involve innovative partnerships. The results guide us towards effective land and water management practices. Water is an entrance point for the discussion on climate change, for the connection on this complex issue is clearly understood in light of the increase in floods and droughts,” states Eric Bonham.

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Moving Towards Healthy Watersheds: Environment Deputy Minister lauds work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“Moving beyond traditional engineered infrastructure asset management to also account for nature’s services will help influence ‘standards of practice’ and represent a leading-edge evolution in how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented and maintained in BC. The long-term success of the IREI program will be measurable when community development activities and alterations of the built environment result in cumulative benefits, not impacts,” wrote Wes Shoemaker.

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Debra Oakman: Her support helped to lay the foundation for successfully launching the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative in 2012


Debra Oakman retired as Chief Administrative Officer of the Comox Valley Regional District in mid-2017. In October 2017, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC honoured her with a Lifetime Membership. The early and strong support of Debra Oakman for demonstrating the benefits of the ‘regional team approach’ in the Comox Valley was a key to the success of the Partnership’s CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative.

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Englishman River Watershed Recovery Plan: Connecting people to their landscape, the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society is a voice for the community


“MVIHES experience demonstrates that positive outcomes are a result of strong community support for protection of small streams and their tributaries,” stated the late Faye Smith (1937-2017). The “Shelly Creek Water Balance & Erosion Reduction Plan” is dedicated to her memory. Faye Smith was the backbone of stream stewardship in the Oceanside area for 30 years.

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“By sharing the story of Shelly Creek, we want readers to recognize that erosion is a common issue impacting salmon and trout habitats in small streams, draining into the Salish Sea,” stated Peter Law, Vice-President of the Mid Vancouver Habitat Enhancement Society


“Over time, MVIHES has morphed into Stewards of the Watershed. Beginning in 2011, the MVIHES action plan has concentrated on Shelly Creek. One of five Englishman River tributaries, it is the last fish-bearing creek flowing through the City of Parksville,” stated Peter Law. “It will require a bottom-up approach to inform, educate and inspire City and Regional District governments to implement 21st century policies for rainwater and development.”

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“MVIHES has established a provincial precedent with the Shelly Creek Water Balance & Sediment Reduction Plan; and this will have reverberations as the 'Shelly Creek story' becomes well-known," wrote Kim Stephens in the preface to "Shelly Creek is Parksville's last fish-bearing stream!" (October 2017)


“Community stewardship volunteers are demonstrating what it means to embrace ‘shared responsibility’ and take the initiative to lead by example,” stated Kim Stephens. “The Shelly Creek experience foreshadows that an informed stream stewardship sector may prove to be a difference-maker that instigates and accelerates implementation of the ‘whole-system, water balance’ approach in the Georgia Basin region and beyond.”

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Released in July 2017, the "Shelly Creek Water Balance & Erosion Reduction Plan" has three desired outcomes: Restore Watershed Hydrology, Prevent Stream Erosion, Ensure Salmon Survival


“Issue #1 is widespread lack of understanding of the relationship between flow-duration and stream (watershed) health,” stated Jim Dumont. The flow of water from cloud to stream is comprised of three water balance pathways. Standard drainage engineering practice only considers surface runoff. The other two pathways (interflow and groundwater) by which rainfall reaches streams are ignored.

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: Creating Our Workshop Workshop initiated a call to action to "design with nature" on Vancouver Island to achieve water sustainability outcomes

The workshop was an action item arising from an earlier consultation workshop held in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference in September 2006. “If we are to control our destiny and create our future, then we need to challenge our fellow Vancouver Islanders to visualize what they want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years,” stated John Finnie.

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FLASHBACK TO 2006: Consultation workshop, held as an adjunct to the "Water in the City Conference" in Victoria, launched CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island


The workshop focus was on bridging the gap between talk (interest) and action (practice) in advancing a water-centric approach to community development. To provide breakout groups with context for their brainstorming, Erik Karlsen addressed this question: “SO WHAT are the ways we inform, inspire and enable people to work together through partnerships to ACT NOW?” In addition, he introduced possible elements of a water-centric framework for land development approvals.

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FLASHBACK TO 2005: "Meeting of the Minds" in Parksville – the genesis for the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative


“The group was asked to identify what issues, problems or concerns exist currently within the Vancouver Island region,” wrote Kerry Elfstrom. “It was agreed that Vancouver Island could be the focus since it has clearly defined geographical boundaries, every element of the industry represented (suppliers, operators, consultants, educators, interested Associations etc.) and advantageous proximity to the provincial Government.”

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VIDEO: "Thinking Like a Watershed: Eco-Assets Explained" – perspectives by Bob Sandford, Emanuel Machado, Kim Stephens and Michelle Molnar together capture the essence of the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium


“An ecological approach provides a community with the ability to provide services to people at a reduced cost, with a reduced risk, and with tremendous benefits to the environment,” stated Emanuel Machado. “The challenges we have are three-fold: nature itself is under-valued, under-priced and over-used. Our built infrastructure is decaying at a faster pace that we can afford to replace it. And nature itself knows no boundaries, but we have no ability to plan at a watershed scale.”

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GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: "Deployment of Water Balance family of online tools would help local governments bring state-of-the-art-hydrology into engineering standard practice," wrote Kim Stephens, in an article for Asset Management BC


“The paradigm-shift is that watersheds are managed as ‘infrastructure assets’ that provide ‘water balance services’,” states Kim Stephens. The driver for using the Water Balance family of tools is this desired outcome: restore watershed hydrology and re-set the ecological baseline.” Adopted by the Province in 2002, the Water Balance Methodology is the hydrology foundation for development of tools for different users at different scales and purposes.

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