“Meeting of the Minds” in Parksville (Sept 2005): Build a communications network to address the issues facing the water and wastewater industry within the Vancouver Island region

Note to Reader:

The CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative started with two “Meeting of the Minds” consultation workshops held in Parksville (in September 2005 and then in May 2006). Below is the story of the 2005 workshop.


Meeting of the Minds Workshop

The Meeting of the Minds workshop was held as a result of a Vancouver Island contact survey initiated by Eric Bonham (Ministry of Municipal Affairs) in his capacity as a Director of the BCWWA. The survey was undertaken during the period 2003-2004.

From individual interviews with leaders in the water and wastewater industry throughout the island, it was clear that there was widespread interest in holding a workshop that would provide an opportunity for the exchange of information, and to explore the possibility of establishing a communications network for the Vancouver Island Region.

Water Sustainability

EricBonham_BCWWA“There are a number of initiatives on Vancouver Island that are focusing upon the theme of sustainability,” wrote Eric Bonham a decade ago. “The Vancouver Island section of the BCWWA has encouraged such linkage and sought out partnerships to reinforce the common theme of sustainability based upon an island wide communications information exchange network.

“There are also similarities between the Convening for Action in the South Okanagan initiative and the Meeting of the Minds project on Vancouver Island, hence there is much to be gained through collaboration.”

Groups Represented

To ensure that a broad range of interests were represented at the first Meeting of the Minds workshop, invitations were sent to representatives from:

  • the provincial government, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Community Services,
  • federal government,
  • regional districts,
  • municipalities,
  • elected officials,
  • First Nations,
  • NGO,
  • Coastal Water Suppliers Association,
  • consultants,
  • business sector,
  • BCWWA and
  • the Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP).

In total 35 participated in the workshop at the Quality Resort Bayside in Parksville September 15 – 16, 2005.  Kerry Elfstrom, a professional facilitator, was appointed to guide the process.

Workshop Objective

TKerry-Elfstrom_2012_trimmed_120phis objective was stated at the start of the workshop, reported Kerry Elfstrom:

“Build a communications network to address the issues facing the water and wastewater industry within the Vancouver Island region”.

“The group was asked to identify what issues, problems or concerns exist currently within the Vancouver Island region,” stated Kerry Elfstrom.

“It was agreed that Vancouver Island could be the focus since it has clearly defined geographical boundaries, every element of the industry represented (suppliers, operators, consultants, educators, interested Associations etc.) and advantageous proximity to the provincial Government.

“After the group identified issues that prevail in the Vancouver Island region, they were asked to identify which were the most common throughout the region.

“Having agreed to the common issues, the group was asked to identify solutions. In the interest of the sheer volume of specific issues and time constraints, the group was asked to identify solutions to the five common issues.

“In a discussion about solutions at the end of the workshop, the group came to consensus that the first step to addressing these issues was to continue building and expanding the network just established (the participants of the workshop agreed that they were the network),” concluded Kerry Elfstrom in his report.

To Learn More:

Download Summary Report on Meeting of the Minds Workshop in September 2005 to read a synthesis of the discussion and outcomes.

Workshop Outcome

In a workshop overview subsequently prepared by Eric Bonham, he observed that:

“Through discussion, participants indicated their expectations of the workshop, then identified Vancouver Island water and wastewater issues and possible solutions, which were subsequently clustered into five broad categories, namely:

  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Sustainability
  • Funding
  • Governance.

“It was the  consensus of the group that the dialogue initiated at the workshop continue in the future with the goal of building an effective long-term communications network addressing issues facing both the public and the water and wastewater industry on Vancouver Island.

“As an interim step, an ad hoc committee was formed to establish future directions. Mac Fraser, Chief Administrative Officer of the Village of Cumberland, was named Chair.”