South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy: Pilot for Water-Centric Action in British Columbia


Note to Reader:

The Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC), which represents local government on Vancouver Island, and Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) held a Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Nanaimo on December 3, 2007.

CAVI is a regional pilot program that is being implemented under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. By 2010, the CAVI vision is that Vancouver Island will be well on its way to achieving water sustainability.

Designed  to start a conversation that will lead to a region-wide dialogue in 2008 around achieving settlement in balance with ecology on Vancouver Island, the Leadership Forum featured the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy because of the relevance of lessons learned in that region.

South Okanagan_2007

Provincial Relevance of Okanagan Precedent: Lessons learned in Okanagan shared at Vancouver Island Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum

The relevance of the South Okanagan example is that it too was a Convening for Action regional pilot: the Regional Growth Strategy is water-centric (i.e. plan with a view to water), and recognizes the relationship between land and water (i.e. in terms of both water use and water runoff). The innovation is the toolkit that follows policy, and which leads to benchmarking and monitoring/measuring what matters.

Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Action Plan,  reports that: “We had hoped that Osoyoos Mayor John Slater, who is also Chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and Chair of the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy, could have joined us to inform our Vancouver Island directly regarding the lessons they have learned in the South Okanagan. Unfortunately, his other commitments precluded this possibility.”

“Instead, we came up with a Plan B which really is a Plan A,” continues Kim Stephens, “First, John and I agreed that I would interview him so that I could report out on his behalf. Then, we connected a couple of more dots and concluded that it would be very effective if I told the ‘South Okanagan story’ from three perspectives: regional leader, regional planner and municipal administrator.”

This discussion resulted in a trip by Kim Stephens to the South Okanagan with stops in Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos to interview Susanne Theurer (Planning Services Manager, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen) and Tom Szalay (Administrator, Town of Oliver), and John Slater.

VI forum - south okanagan perspectives

Interview Process:

“The one-on-one interviews were great,” states Kim Stephens, “As I progressively cross-fertilized the conversations with insights from the previous interview, the storyline took shape. In each interview, I asked what one message would you like me to convey on your behalf to the Vancouver Island audience.”

“At the conclusion of the three interviews, I realized that they are using slightly different language in the South Okanagan, yet they are now having a dialogue about what A Positive Settlement Strategy means to them,” adds Kim Stephens, “The bylaw for the Regional Growth Strategy is one vote away from being enacted, and they are having one more round of discussion about Why and Where growth will be concentrated.”

VI forum - south okanagan rgs cover (240p)“Under the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy, the fundamental decision has been made to concentrate the bulk of the future population growth within the existing urban growth areas. The question the RDOS Board is currently revisiting is the number of secondary growth centres to allow in the rural areas,” concludes Kim Stephens.

The Toolkit that is part and parcel of the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy provides direction vis-à-vis How land will be developed and water used.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the Draft Bylaw, click on  South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw 2421 – June 21, 2007 First and Second.

To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation prepared for the Leadership Forum, please click on this link to South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy: Pilot for Water-Centric Action in British Columbia.

VI forum - okanagan beneficial balance

Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum on Vancouver Island

To learn more about the Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum and the two-part program design, click on the following links:

Creating Our Future on Vancouver Island – Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum organized by CAVI will celebrate successes and showcase innovation

Creating Our Future on Vancouver Island – Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum will initiate a dialogue about A Positive Settlement Strategy.