District of Summerland experience illustrates successful application of ‘regional team approach’ in the South Okanagan
Creating a Legacy for the Community
On June 28, 2010 the District of Summerland Council voted unanimously to adopt the Environmentally Sensitive Development Permit Areas and all the supporting mechanisms into the Official Community Plan (OCP).
“Almost 2,000 hectares of land have this permit designation which allows for careful consideration of ecological values during the development application and approval process. This is the culmination of 10 months of cooperation, learning and sharing resources,” reports Don DeGagne, Chief Administrative Officer.
A Partnership Outcome
This action is an early outcome of the South Okanagan and Similkameen Local Government Ecological Standards and Practices Capacity Building Initiative. This is a partnership of four local governments and the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP).
“Under the umbrella of the Capacity Building Initiative, a regional environmental planning table has brought together planners and resource people to learn, identify priority issues and needs for support, and a forum from which to advance sustainable land use planning,” states Bryn White, SOSCP Manager.
“We could never have accomplished our OCP work without the support and leveraging of this partnership. The highlight of this project is my new understanding of the uniqueness, sensitivity and importance of the natural environment of the South Okanagan,” adds Ian McIntosh, Manager of Development Services.
“We commend the District of Summerland for seeing the importance of considering and protecting our natural environment and adopting these mechanisms. This is a wonderful legacy for our community, I am very proud to have been involved in the partnership that could make this happen,” concludes Bryn White.
Regional Team Approach
“The District of Summerland OCP example illustrates how a community can benefit from successful implementation of a ‘regional team approach’. The Real Estate Foundation is pleased to be a partner in this process,” observes Karin Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.
“The Foundation’s hands-on role with Convening for Action in British Columbia has allowed us to frame this challenge for land and water practitioners: What is our land ethic, and how can we view the context differently? The Summerland example demonstrates that the land ethic in the South Okanagan is changing for the better.”
In 2008 the Governors of the Real Estate Foundation of BC granted $150,000 to The Nature Trust of BC (one of the partners in the SOSCP collaborative) to support the program coordination, research, education, and land use planning functions of the SOSCP through 2008-2011.
Convening for Action in the South Okanagan
“The genesis for the regional team approach that has emerged in the South Okanagan can be traced back to 2005 and Convening for Action in the South Okanagan,” continues Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
“This sub-regional pilot enabled the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy to establish a provincial precedent: the strategy is water-centric. Starting in 2006, South Okanagan experience has been successfully adapted by the Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative, known as CAVI.”
“The cross-fertilization process has now come full circle. As the current Capacity Building Initiative clearly shows, South Okanagan communities are adapting and building on lessons learned on Vancouver Island, and in particular the Comox Valley.”
Legacy of the 2009 Penticton Forum
“Inter-regional sharing and learning was facilitated by the 2009 Penticton Forum, held as an adjunct to the annual conference of the BC Water & Waste Association. We showcased three regions where communities are ‘convening for action’ and embracing a ‘regional team approach’ to be consistent in doing business differently.”
“The Penticton Forum provided Okanagan pracititioners with a venue where they could connect with champions from Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver. As Bryn reported in Beyond the Guidebook 2010, her SOSCP Directors subsequently asked her to pay attention to CAVI’s ongoing work as a source of new practical ideas that could help SOSCP.”
“One of those practical ideas is the ‘regional team approach’. As the Summerland example underscores, by adopting this approach and pooling funding to share an environmental planner, the South Okanagan has effectively leap-frogged the Comox Valley with one bold move. This is quite an accomplishment. It truly is the regional team approach in action. It is precedent-setting,” concludes Kim Stephens.
About the Capacity Building Initiative
“SOSCP and four local governments (Summerland, Oliver, Keremeos and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen) have established a collaborative approach to capacity building,” explains Bryn White.
“The partners pooled existing funding resources and worked together to apply for external funds from Real Estate Foundation of BC’s CIT program, as well as from other sources such as the federal Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP).”
“This enabled the establishment of a shared environmental planning contractor, who works within the communities to assist them in achieving their environmental planning objectives.”
“In addition, there are other resource people and mentors that work to support that environmental planner. The SOSCP administers the contract and guides the workplan in concert with the communities according to their needs,” reports Bryn White.
“The project budget is about $184,000 per year. The Real Estate Foundation is the largest cash contributor at $35,000,” states Tim Pringle, Director of Special Programs for the Real Estate Foundation of BC.
“The three municipalities are contributing both cash (about $20,000 total) and time so that they can share an environmental planner. Their commitment of money and staff underscores that this is a serious conservation planning initiative, based on a regional team approach.”
Regional Team Approach is a Powerful Motivator
“Our experience in three regions is that the term ‘regional team approach’ is resonating. Insertion of the word team in ‘regional approach’ has had a profound impact on hpw practitioners view their world.”
“Team implies there is a personal commitment; it also suggests there is a game plan and a coachable context. The regional team approach is proving to be a powerful motivator,” concludes Tim Pringle
To Learn More:
Click on South Okanagan and Similkameen Local Government Ecological Standards and Practices Capacity Building Initiative — Bryn White provides context for the community and inter-governmental collaboration that resulted in formation of a regional environmental planning table to advance sustainable land use planning.
Click on Convening for Action in British Columbia: ‘Beyond the Guidebook 2010’ connects the dots between South Okanagan and Vancouver Island — The South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy provided the first opportunity to test the ‘convening for action’ approach. That experience has been adapted in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. The cross-fertilization process has now come full circle.