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 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.
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.
"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."
"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."
"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.
"The Regional District of Nanaimo’s water sustainability goals have meshed very well with those of the Partnership for Water Sustainability over the many years we have worked together. The working relationship enhances the ability of both organizations to reach their common goals in water sustainability while supporting each other. A highlight of that relationship was being part of the Inter Regional Education Initiative," stated Mike Donnelly.
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.
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