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.
"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.
"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.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted the Regional District of Nanaimo and Comox Valley Regional District. “As we look out into the future in a changing environment – our new normal - the richness and the depth of community participation can only help our region’s future resiliency. While we can build the tools and the technical backstops at a professional and technical level, at the end of the day we need to have everybody at the table," stated Kate Miller.
For the past decade, the Cowichan Region has served as a provincial demonstration region for the whole-system, water balance approach. Methodologies and tools tested in the Cowichan Region have been replicated elsewhere. “The new normal - alternating floods and droughts - has prompted regional action to develop governance structures and processes to make the connections between high-level decision making and actions on the ground,” reported Brian Carruthers.
In 2008, the RDN became the first regional government to create a drinking water and watershed protection service area with taxation. In 2012, the service area was expanded to include the municipalities within the regional district. They became active participants in the watershed function. “Sharing our experience with the other regional districts will hopefully assist them as they craft their own approach within their context,” concludes Randy Alexander.
In 2008, Comox Valley regional district restructuring opened the door to a collaborative process that led to a ‘regional team approach’. “The Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan is presented in a format which encourages ease of implementation. The collaborative process and its positive outcome is something that the Comox Valley is proud of, and we were honoured to be asked to share the details of our process with our neighbouring regional districts," stated Zoe Norcross-Nu’u.
“We should also remember that – though it may not seem like it at the moment – great opportunity still very much exists not just to change the world, but to make it a better place," stated Bob Sandford. "If we just stay the course – and by our example help others to do the same – there is no question that – if we want it to be – this could be Canada’s moment; its chance to shine."
“I travel widely, but I have never heard a conversation like what I have heard at the Symposium. And while I am often part of very positive conversations, what was unique (about the Symposium) was the atmosphere of possibilities and hope that I have witnessed here," stated Bob Sandford. "Investment must now be shifted towards restoration that uses the forces of nature itself to help build more efficiently integrated infrastructure."
“So what is the nub of the issue? In standard practice, only surface runoff is considered, and this has led to degraded streams. The other pathways by which rainfall reaches streams are ignored,” explained Jim Dumont. “If communities are to truly benefit from use of nature’s assets to provide vital community infrastructure services, then we must change the engineering standard-of practice to one that is state-of-the-art and reflects real-world hydrology.”
"The BC Framework encourages local governments to manage their natural assets in the same way they manage their hard engineered assets. The program goals for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative are aligned with this strategic direction. Successful implementation provincewide of 'Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management', would represent an evolution in how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented and maintained in British Columbia,” stated Minister Fassbender.
“The CVRD has been an active partner for over ten years and has benefited from the tools, professional development and working relationships made possible through our membership in the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC," stated Jon Lefebure. "The IREI enables local governments to leverage resources for common activities such as education, research and policy development.”
“The IREI was launched in 2012. A year ago regional district partners recommitted through 2021. The current IREI program focus and goal is: Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management," stated Ted van der Gulik. "Presently, we are creating awareness. Early uptake of the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems has exceeded our expectations. There is clearly interest and an appetite to learn more. It is an idea whose time has come."
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