‘Living Rivers’ and ‘Partnership for Water Sustainability’ align efforts on Vancouver Island



Note to Reader:

Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, known by the acronym CAVI, was launched in 2007. It is an initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, a not-for-profit society. CAVI has concentrated its efforts in the local government setting where decisions about land use and settlement are made. Those decisions have implications for water sustainability at the local, watershed and regional scales.

The article below introduces and describes the lead players who are aligning efforts to bring to fruition an initiative called Convening for Action in the Mid-Island Region.


Joint initiative is called ‘Convening for Action in the Mid-Island Region’

The Partnership for Water Sustainability, Living Rivers and the Ministry of Agriculture are aligning their efforts in the Mid-Island Region – that is, within the boundaries of the Nanaimo Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

“We are describing this initiative as Convening for Action in the Mid-Island Region,” states Tim Pringle, Partnership President. “The time is ripe to advance a ‘regional team approach’. This approach brings together key players in neutral settings so that they can align Tim pringle (120p) objectives, initiatives and priorities.”

“The approach works because it facilitates the type of conversations that otherwise would not happen. A key to being successful is the Partnership’s track record with Vancouver Island local governments, in particular our collaboration with the four local governments in the Comox Valley.”

“Due to strong, local leadership at the working level, in 2009 the Province recognized the Comox Valley as a provincial demonstration of how to make real a regional team approach. We will adapt the Comox Valley experience to help Mid-Island regional districts and municipalities implement aspects of existing regional plans that are striving to integrate land and water use.”

“We have observed that insertion of the word TEAM in a regional approach has a profound impact on how practitioners view their world. Team implies there is a personal commitment, it is also suggests there is a game plan and coachable context. The regional team approach is proving to be a powerful motivator.”

Partnership for water sustainability in bc - cavi version of logo (360p)

Living rivers - logo (360p)


Precedent-Setting Regional Plans

“The two Mid-Island regional districts have developed provincially significant plans, namely; the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan; and the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Plan. These plans provide the springboard for action that integrates land and water management,” continues Tim Pringle.

“The Cowichan Plan is a provincial case study for watershed governance changes being contemplated as part of Water Act Modernization. The Nanaimo Region’s plan created a drinking water and watershed protection service area with taxation authority in an electoral area. Both plans are precedent-setting.”

“A regional team approach is the way to share and learn from each other, and achieve more with less. Convening for Action in the Mid-Island Region will add tools and experience to the mix, in particular the Water Balance Model and a course that the Partnership is developing on how to implement Integrated Stormwater Management Plans. The Water Balance Model enables planners and engineers to design communities so that they have no net impact on stream environments. This outcome will help local governments achieve the goals of the regional plans on-the-ground,” concludes Tim Pringle.



Living Rivers & Healthy Watersheds

“Established by the Provincial Government in 2006, the vision of the Living Rivers Trust Fund (LRTF) is to create a legacy for British Columbia based on healthy watersheds, sustainable ecosystems and thriving communities,” states Alan Lill, Program Manager, Living Rivers – Georgia Basin / Vancouver Island.

Alan lill (120p)“Since 2006, the LRTF has granted our program $7.7 million for watershed planning and habitat restoration work which has facilitated over $17 million in additional investments from a wide range of partner organizations. We are hopeful that the legacy fund will be extended so that this important work can be continued in 2012 and beyond, including our new initiatives under the CAVI umbrella.”

“Some of the larger projects in the mid-Vancouver Island area have included increased water supplies on Little Qualicum River, semi-natural side channels on Englishman and Cowichan Rivers, the Millstone Falls salmon fish bypass channel in Nanaimo, and the stabilization of Stoltz Bluff on the Cowichan River,” continues Craig Wightman, Senior Fisheries Biologist with Living Rivers.

“Living Rivers has also supported the work of a large number of stream stewardship groups and been a major sponsor of the Cowichan Watershed Board and stewardship roundtables on both Cowichan and Englishman Rivers. Our First Nations Legacy component has been instrumental in fostering increased capacity and employment in fish assessment, and habitat protection and restoration.” 



Broadening the Convening for Action Network

“Integration of the Living Rivers and CAVI stories, with the later addition of the agriculture component, will provide for a comprehensive vision and action plan designed to achieve long-term water sustainability, starting in the Mid-Island region,” continues Eric Bonham, a founding member of the CAVI Leadership Team.

Eric bonham (120p) “Living Rivers supports First Nations’ capacity building and introduces the critical habitat component into the picture, thereby complementing CAVI’s current involvement with local government people-centric activities, i.e. settlement patterns. This will broaden the ‘convening for action’ network and strengthen the overall  vision by integrating the various facets  of water sustainability on Vancouver Island.”


Agricultural Water Demand Model

“For some time, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has recognized the need for a Vancouver Island agricultural initiative. Now there is an opportunity. Timing is everything,” states Tim Pringle.

Ted van der gulik (120p) - 2008 “The Ministry of Agriculture is proceeding with a Mid-Island Agricultural Water Demand Model. This is the first step to an Island-wide program; and will replicate programs implemented in other regions, notably in the Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver,” states Ted van der Gulik, the Ministry’s Senior Engineer.

“The effectiveness of this program relies on collaboration and cost-sharing with local government. In addition, Living Rivers, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, will be supporting CAVI in climate change adaptation projects including the basic mapping required for the Agricultural Demand model in the Cowichan and Englishman watersheds. The detailed land use inventories that we complete under this program are valuable to local governments,”

“The Water Demand Model calculates agriculture’s water needs by purveyor, municipality, district and sub-watershed. We do this property-by-property. In this way, the agricultural community can secure water for present and future agricultural needs,” concludes Ted van der Gulik.


Posted October 2011