Moving Towards Sustainable Watershed Systems: Beyond the Guidebook 2015 showcased “The Story of Convening for Action in the Nanaimo Region”


Action for Water

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) was the first regional district to embrace a leadership role within the CAVI -Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative. The RDN’s John Finnie, General Manager of Regional and Community Utilities, was the first CAVI Chair (2006-2011). Annual updates to the Board about CAVI activities and accomplishments enabled the Board to reaffirm commitment to inter-regional collaboration.

Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program

The RDN’s contribution to inter-regional “sharing and learning” is the experience it has gained over the past decade in first developing and then implementing the precedent-setting Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program.

John Finnie_2015_v1_120p“In 2008, and as the outcome of a successful referendum, the RDN became the first regional government to create a drinking water and watershed protection service area with taxation authority in an electoral area. This was the culmination of a 6-year effort. In 2012, the service area was expanded to include the municipalities within the regional district and they became active participants in the watershed function,” reports John Finnie.

Source of Authority for Watershed Approach

In February 2003, a staff report to the Board crystallized the Action for Water vision. The 2003 report is a valuable historical document. Not only did it consolidate various directives, it identified a strategy (and associated implications) for moving forward incrementally with the regional service area. Findings of relevance to other regions are:

  • The primary source of authority for a regional district to undertake studies in relation to watershed protection is found in section 800.1(2)(b) of the Local Government Act.
  • This section provides for coordination, research and analytical services related to the development of the regional district.
  • The regional district’s powers to regulate and control development through zoning bylaws enable a regional function and service area for Drinking Water & Watershed Protection.

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Action for Water Video

In 2008, the RDN produced a video that drew attention to water resource impacts and explained the need for action through the local government mandates of land use planning and development standards. “The Action for Water video was a critical communication tool during the public consultation process leading up to the referendum in November 2008,” recalls John Finnie.


Provincial Demonstration Applications

The Nanaimo Region is a provincial demonstration region for a water balance approach to watershed protection, starting with two chapters in the 2002 Guidebook:

RDN case study experience showcased what could be accomplished by bringing together the right people with the right knowledge at the right time to collaborate on solutions. As a result, the RDN lens for describing the value of the ‘regional team approach’ is sustainable partnerships.

To Learn More:

The Regional District of Nanaimo chapter in Beyond the Guidebook 2015 is 16 pages and is organized in five sections as shown below. To download a PDF copy and read the complete story, click on Convening for Action in Nanaimo Region.

To download a copy of the entire 158-page Beyond the Guidebook 2015, click on this link: