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Comox Valley

Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley


“It does not matter how far away you live or build from a creek, lake, bog or the ocean – you are in a watershed. The Comox Valley consists of 26 watersheds. Each of us has a role to play to ensure these watersheds remain healthy for generations to come,” stated Judith Walker, Village of Cumberland planner. “The four local governments in the Comox Valley are striving for consistent application of outcome-oriented actions.”

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Beyond the Guidebook 2015: City of Courtenay’s Nancy Gothard shares her perspective on the role of champions in leading change in the Georgia Basin


“The fact that we are all at the same point on the trajectory in terms of infiltrating these ideas into our organizations suggests that we are indeed on the right path. We each have come to the conclusion that collaboration is critical,” wrote Nancy Gothard. “This relationship building is key to accelerating the sharing and learning further and the Georgia Basin approach to water sustainability.”

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Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Time-Line for Comox Valley shows how “regional team approach” has evolved over past decade


“Adoption of the regional strategies has resulted in much for municipal staffs to absorb and digest about doing business differently, while at the same time they are tasked with keeping the wheels of government rolling to meet ongoing commitments,” stated Kevin Lagan. “The Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team convenes for action around this paradigm: Water is the finite resource; however, management of development is the control.”

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"A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley" – Joint Staff Training Workshop initiates educational process for communicating 'design with nature' expectations in urban watersheds


“The passion of the regional team came through in their individual presentations. Their enthusiasm infected the audience in a good way. The moment everyone broke into discussion groups one could feel the energy in the room. At the workshop conclusion, it was clear that the session had achieved a transformative outcome,” observed Kim Stephens, workshop facilitator.

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YOU TUBE VIDEO: "The Joint Staff Workshop is intended to begin an ongoing dialogue/collaboration that will lead to healthy, resilient local natural infrastructure," stated Kris La Rose, Chair of the Comox Valley regional team


“Healthier watersheds can handle high and low rainfall better, and are therefore more resilient to the coming changes,” stated Kris La Rose. “From the regional perspective, mitigation of flood risk, water conservation and restoration and protection of our streams and rivers are all key priorities. The increase in extreme weather is highlighting the need to build better resiliency into the natural systems that we all rely so heavily upon.”

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YOU TUBE VIDEO: At Comox Valley Joint Staff Workshop, Jack Minard and David Stapley illustrated how analytical use of Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory provides a quantitative way to measure impacts of land use on ecosystem services


“This gave us a 20-year window to measure the impacts of land use on sensitive ecosystems that were intact in 1992,” stated David Stapley. “So why does it matter? Our communities face the double whammy of aging infrastructure and climate change. Healthy watersheds naturally manage rainfall. Protecting and restoring streams and wetlands through water wise development has many benefits.”

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Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Regional district restructuring was the genesis for “The Story of the Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team”


“The Ministry is moving forward with projects that offer custom solutions to specific regional district circumstances. While these projects are being designed to respond to specific circumstances, they may also serve as useful ‘pilot projects’ with application to other areas of British Columbia,” wrote Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services, in her July 2007 notice of intervention that defined the creation of the Comox Valley Regional District.

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YOU TUBE VIDEO: "The Water-Wise Guide is in essence both a call to action (for the community, but also for us) as well as a road map for that action," said Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay environmental planner


“So, our goal was to begin to brand the story and to make it visible in the various regulatory agencies in the Valley. To depict visually that we were developing a consistency in expectations in how development would address environmental concerns. Having it available on every front counter and every website is a first step,” stated Nancy Gothard.

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YOU TUBE VIDEO: "Soil is more than just dirt," explained Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay environmental planner


“Soil is alive. It does have value. It is a very important rainwater management asset when seen as a whole on the landscape scale,” stated Nancy Gothard. “One person’s yard may not seem to matter much. But when we look at all the yards adding up on a watershed scale, soil is very critically valuable. It is not we have a specific tool in each jurisdiction. Rather, it is a recognition that soil plays a valuable role in rainwater management.”

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YOU TUBE VIDEO: "Local governments can build a strong financial case for protecting, preserving and replanting trees as service providers," stated Judith Walker, Village of Cumberland planner


Trees provide many benefits including beauty, shade, habitat and rainfall interception and storage. “We talk about Tree Protection Bylaws, but it really is about Tree Protection,” stated Judith Walker. “Only recently have we started to actually account for the economic value of the benefits provided by trees. Over the long term, the cost is significantly less than that for hard infrastructure, and with the added benefit of a much longer replacement cost cycle.”

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