Governments of Canada and British Columbia fund Georgia Basin
Inter-Regional Education Initiative
Collaborating under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI), the Cowichan Valley Regional District is one of five regional districts sharing and learning from each other about how to implement “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.
The other IREI partners are Capital Region, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. Together, the five represent 75% of British Columbia’s population. The not-for-profit Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is the IREI secretariat.
In March 2017, the governments of Canada and British Columbia announced program funding for Sustainable Watershed Systems. The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) acted on behalf of the partners to receive the capacity-building grant from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).
Benefits of Local Government Collaboration
“Local government collaboration under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) is producing tools and resources that will help communities integrate watershed systems with land use and infrastructure decisions,” explained Jon Lefebure, CVRD Chair.
“There is no reason for any of us to re-invent the wheel. We are sharing and learning from each other. We are cross-pollinating our experience. Collaboration is leading to precedents for getting it right.
“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.
“The CVRD has identified the challenges regarding drainage due to development and the need for a whole-system, water balance approach to get it right. Through the IREI program, we can explore and test solutions. The IREI enables local governments to leverage resources for common activities such as education, research and policy development.”
“The focus of the IREI work plan is to promote integration of service, natural asset and financial sustainability through an asset management process to achieve a healthy watershed.
“Other regions recognize BC as a leader in this area. They perceive BC moving in the right direction with integration of watershed systems thinking and climate change adaptation into asset management,” said Chair Lefebure.
Sustainable Watershed Systems,
through Asset Management
Commencing with release of Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” in November 2015, an initiative has been underway to transform how local governments and others think about the drainage function and to recognize ‘watersheds as infrastructure assets’.
Below, as illustrated on the Asset Management Continuum for Sustainable Service Delivery, Sustainable Watershed Systems would be the outcome in Step Three.
But it is not a wait-and-see proposition. Even as local governments are progressing through Steps One and Two for their core infrastructure, they need to be laying the groundwork so that they would be ready to implement Step Three.
To Learn More
GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “Understanding leads to action. Getting there is a step-by-step process,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC