Convening for Action on Vancouver island: Team-building north of the Malahat



In February 2010, the Bowker Creek Forum celebrated urban watershed management successes in the Georgia Basin. Held at the University of Victoria, the Forum enabled participants to share lessons learned and connect the dots between five Georgia Basin initiatives.

Leading up to the Bowker Creek Forum, a set of four stories progressively foreshadowed and/or elaborated on what would be covered at the Forum. A fifth story documents the Forum outcomes. The following article is extracted from Story #2 titled Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin: Bowker Creek Forum promotes inter-regional sharing and collaboration.  



Creation of a Practitioners’ Network: Goal is to establish consistent ‘design with nature’ expectations for green infrastructure

“Commencing in 2007, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) has partnered with three regional districts north of the Malahat to create a ‘practitioners’ network’. Also, the Kim stephens - 2008 (120p)Cowichan Valley has been an incubator for proving out ideas and approaches to building practitioner capacity,” states Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.

“The experience gained in the Cowichan Valley has then been adapted in the Comox Valley, Capital Region and Metro Vancouver.”

John finnie (120p)Designed through an inclusive and participatory process that draws on the experience of planning and engineering managers in local government, CAVI program elements are outcome-oriented,” continues John Finnie, CAVI Chair. In his day job, he is General Manager, Regional and Community Utilities, with the Regional District of Nanaimo.


Convening for Action in Cowichan Valley

“At the beginning of 2007, only those who had participated in the 2006 Consultation Workshop at the Water in the City Conference had heard about CAVI. Fortunately, Kate Miller of the Cowichan Valley Regional District was there,” recollects Kim Stephens.

“Kate’s understanding of what CAVI wanted to accomplish was the door-opener for exploratory discussions with her organization. It quickly became apparent that there was an opportunity for CAVI alignment with desired outcomes for the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan. This then led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”


Build Regional Capacity

“Kate Miller brought representatives from the other Cowichan Valley local governments into the picture. This started the ball rolling. Within a matter of months, three regional districts and their member municipalities had volunteered to co-host the 2007 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series.”

The Series goal was to celebrate successes, promote networking, build regional capacity, and move communities from awareness to action in designing with nature.


2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series

The 2007 Showcasing Innovation series was the catalyst for Island-wide networking and relationship-building that, in turn, generated enthusiasm for implementing the Learning Lunch concept.

Both the Cowichan Valley Regional Board and City of Courtenay Council voted unanimously to sponsor and host the Cowichan Valley and Comox Valley series, respectively. The two series supported the rollout of Living Water Smart.


Regional Team Approach

According to Kate Miller, Manager of Regional Environmental Policy, her Board viewed the series as an opportunity to develop a policy framework for the valley. “It meant that we could foster an informed dialogue that would ultimately lead to adoption of a set of tools for implementing green infrastructure region-wide.”Ka

“The Learning Lunch Series was the first step in building a regional team approach….so that there would be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure in the Cowichan Valley.”


Implement Green Infrastructure

“The Learning Lunch Series was followed in October 2008 by the Cowichan Valley Water Balance Model Forum. The Forum was built around case study applications of the model to local development projects. These provided the technical foundation for roundtable sharing, exploration and cross-fertilization of ideas on how to implement green infrastructure effectively,” summarizes Kate Miller.

Building on the Vancouver Island experience, the City of Surrey hosted the first Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum in March 2009. This learning event adapted the Cowichan Valley format for establishing local government expectations.

Posted March 2010