Cowichan Valley Regional District: Historical context and history of participation in Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative

"CVRD leadership made it possible to bring together three mid-Island regional districts in a partnership that co-hosted the '2007 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island Series'," recalls Peter Law. "The series launched the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative. In turn, CAVI success resulted in the building of long-term relationships which laid the foundation for the IREI program."

Slow, Sink and Spread Rainwater Runoff: Enhanced capabilities of “Cowichan Water Balance Express for Landowners” showcased by CVRD’s Jeff Moore at meeting of Regional Services Committee in November 2015

“The tool has now been upgraded to utilize a Google map base making it more accessible to the general public while maintaining the engineering and analytical engine in the background to determine pre- and post-development runoff and impacts on watershed health," stated Jeff Moore. "This web-based tool allows homeowners or developers to quickly size and test landscape-based solutions, such as rain gardens."

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: “Cowichan region is an incubator for ‘watershed systems thinking’ and application of Water Balance tools,” Kim Stephens informed regional elected representatives

“The new paradigm is to think of watersheds as infrastructure assets. As local government, that is your primary function to think about those meat and potato services such as water systems, sewage systems and road systems. Where we are at now is to also think of watersheds as assets. As an asset, this means being managed, being protected. And so, the key thought is that a watershed is an integrated system," explained Kim Stephens.

Beyond the Guidebook 2015 showcases “The Story of Convening for Action in the Cowichan Region”

“The Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan was developed through a uniquely inclusive consultative process; and provides an umbrella for aligning community development practices policies with emerging practices. The CAVI program can help the Cowichan Valley Regional District and member municipalities add depth to three areas of the Water Management Plan," stated Tom Anderson, General Manager of the Planning Division, in 2007.

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Local Government Champions are Collaborating Across Regions

“The Inter-Regional Education Initiative is a unique format for Georgia Basin local governments to learn from each other by sharing approaches and successes in managing our water resources,” stated Brian Carruthers, CVRD Chief Administrative Officer, in April 2015 when the CVRD reaffirmed its commitment to collaboration and to participation in the next phase of IREI program implementation through 2017.

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Time-Line for Cowichan Region provides context for evolution of “Mimic the Water Balance” approach

Floods and droughts have heightened awareness in the Cowichan region of the need to look at rainfall differently and 'design with nature'. “We are increasingly advising development applicants that they need to manage rainwater runoff where it falls. Until now we have not had an appropriate way to assess their proposed solutions. The Water Balance Model is a great way to do this," stated Rob Conway at the conclusion of the 2008 Water Balance Forum.

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Concept for a ‘regional team approach’ had its genesis in the Cowichan experience during the early rollout of “Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan”

“Within the Cowichan Valley Regional District, there are five local government jurisdictions; and the same group of developers and development consultants have projects in all or most of those jurisdictions. It therefore becomes essential that developers and their consultants hear a consistent message regarding rainwater management and green infrastructure expectations when doing business at the front counters in each of those jurisdictions," stated Peter Nilsen, former Deputy Engineer, North Cowichan.

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Cowichan Region is an incubator for “Water Balance approaches”

Cowichan is a provincial demonstration region for applying the Water Balance Methodology. In April 2014, Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins moved the motion that: "the Water Balance Web Tool and supporting documents be shared with the CVRD and partner municipal planning staff; and further, that planning staff consider integrating the tool into the planning framework to support watershed management objectives at the Official Community Plan level and Development Permit level."

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Cowichan Region is applying science-based understanding to restore the ‘Water Balance’ in urbanizing areas

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has developed a ‘rainwater brochure’ to educate the community about Water Balance concepts, and support use of the WBM Express. “Our community is deeply committed to watershed management and stewardship. However, often they are missing the specific tools and information to transform that commitment to concrete actions they can take in their own lives,” stated Kate Miller

Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Cowichan Region is Adapting to a Changing Climate

"Currently, over 60 distinct organizations – including First Nations, improvement districts, government agencies, NGOs, and industry – play a role in the governance, management, and stewardship of water resources in the Cowichan. Coordination between these organizations is key as we face the pressures of climate change and population growth on our water resources,” says Keith Lawrence.