IMPLEMENT GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE TO ACHIEVE WATER SUSTAINABILITY: “The Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series will help facilitate inter-departmental alignment and a consistent regional approach. The City of Courtenay and Cowichan Valley Regional District are partners who are helping us pilot this work,” announced Deputy Minister Dale Wall, Ministry of Community Services (May 2008)
Note to Reader:
The flashback story below is presented in two parts and brings forward historical material from the archives of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. First, historical context is established regarding a series of milestone events and developments that took place in 2007-2008. Then the program outline for the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series is introduced.
The series was designed to provide peer-based learning. Two series were held, one in the Cowichan Valley, and the other in the Comox Valley. They were attended by local government staff from up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island. The series theme was:
Change the way we develop land to create liveable communities and protect stream health.
The primary foundation document for the series curriculum was Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002. The subsequent Beyond the Guidebook series of guidance documents adds depth based on the experience gained, and the tools and resources developed, to support ‘The New Business As Usual’.
Historical Context for Vancouver Island as a
Living Water Smart Demonstration Region
“At the beginning of 2007, and under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, the Real Estate Foundation of BC and two provincial government ministries (Environment, Community Services) made a multi-year commitment to jointly fund a regional demonstration program on Vancouver Island branded as CAVI-Leadership in Water Sustainability. CAVI is the acronym for Convening for Action on Vancouver Island,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. He was the program’s lead person.
Announcement of “The New Business As Usual”
at the Gaining Ground Summit
“The CAVI program was a key element of the proof-of-concept for the ‘top-down & bottom-up’ approach that is an essential dimension of Living Water, British Columbia’s Water Plan, released 18 months later in June 2008.
“The CAVI program built on earlier Action Plan experience in the South Okanangan during the period 2005-2006 when a ‘convening for action experiment’ was undertaken as an adjunct to the South Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy process.
“In May 2008, at the Gaining Ground Summit held in Victoria, the Deputy Minister for Community Services used the occasion of his keynote address to make an inter-ministerial announcement about program elements comprising the Water Sustainability Action Plan.
“The Deputy Minister, Dale Wall, announced that both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the City of Courtenay would host inaugural Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series.“
Announcement of Living Water Smart linked to
Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series
“On June 3rd 2008, Environment Minister Barry Penner released Living Water Smart. Later that same week, on June 6th, the Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted the first seminar in the inaugural 3-part series. The Cowichan Series was the first Living Water Smart outreach and capacity-building event. The Courtenay Series was second.
“The emphasis in both was on peer-based learning. Both provided an opportunity to synthesize the experience gained and the lessons learned in implementing the Water Sustainability Action Plan. This experience had informed development of Living Water Smart.
“Our experience in successfully delivering the 2007 Vancouver Island Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series through collaboration and partnerships enabled us to take the next bold leap and implement the 2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series in two regions.”
The New Business As Usual
In 2008, the Province was looking at how to raise the bar as far as what it was trying to accomplish with standards, provincial legislation and infrastructure grant programs. At the Gaining Ground Summit, Dale Wall announced that Vancouver Island is the pilot region for implementing Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual.
The shared vision of the Real Estate Foundation, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Community Services in jointly funding CAVI was for the purpose of facilitating the move toward water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices.
Today’s Expectations are Tomorrow’s Standards
“We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models. We have to develop models of practice. We have to develop expertise to support The New Business As Usual,” stated Dale Wall at the Gaining Ground Summit.
“Vancouver Island is the pilot region for much of this work through CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. The approach to practitioner education is inclusive, and supports water-centric planning and a design with nature way-of-thinking. It actually helps to make liveable communities that are in balance with ecology.
“The Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series will help facilitate inter-departmental alignment and a consistent regional approach. The City of Courtenay and Cowichan Valley Regional District are partners who are helping us pilot this work. The goal is that today’s expectations will become tomorrow’s standards; and that we build the legal, technical and policy basis with which to support green infrastructure.
“Infrastructure grant programs enable the government of British Columbia to influence behaviour and advance the New Business As Usual. The vision is to move toward water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices.”
To Learn More:
Download a PDF copy of Green Infrastructure: New Water Balance Model supports “The New Business As Usual”, the PowerPoint presentation by Dale Wall
Download the news release about Green Infrastructure: New Water Balance Model supports “The New Business As Usual”.
Watch the video of Dale Wall:
Create Liveable Communities, Protect Stream Health
“In 2008, CAVI undertook the precedent-setting Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series. When we came up with the Learning Lunch idea, our objectives and expectations were quite modest,” recalled John Finnie, CAVI Chair (and General Manager of Water & Wastewater Services, Regional District of Nanaimo). “We wanted to explore a collaborative approach that we believed would help local governments make informed land development decisions that meet multiple objectives. The idea was an outcome of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum that CAVI and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities co-hosted in December 2007.”
The curriculum for the series was guided by this lynch-pin statement in Living Water Smart:
- By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits (page 43, Living Water Smart)
This target provided the inspiration for branding the series theme as: Change the way we develop land to create liveable communities and protect stream health.
To Learn More:
Visit the CAVI homepage on the Vancouver Island community-of-interest.
Inter-Departmental and Inter-Governmental Alignment
“Although this high-profile event was a success, we concluded that there had to be a more effective way to inform and educate those who would benefit most. That realization led us to sound out several local governments about an idea we had for inter-departmental learning that would result in a shared understanding of green infrastructure challenges and solutions.
“In early 2008, we were thinking in terms of a small group setting….perhaps 12 to 15 people drawn from the various departments within a willing local government. We wanted to bring together engineers, planners, building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers; and we wanted the focus to be on aligning efforts to implement effective green infrastructure.”
“The idea resonated, so much so that the original inter-departmental concept quickly mushroomed into an inter-governmental concept,” continued Kim Stephens. “The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay both volunteered without hesitation to host a regional seminar series, in part because of the opportunity to play a leadership role provincially.
Provincial Government Context
“In early 2008, the provincial government’s Speech from the Throne provided a timely impetus for branding Beyond the Guidebook: Context for Rainwater Management and Green Infrastructure in British Columbia, released in June 2007, as The New Business As Usual and rolling it out through the Learning Lunch Series,” Kim Stephens added.
“The announcement by Dale Wall in May 2008 then underscored the Province’s commitment. But it was the release of Living Water Smart in June 2008 that provided clear provincial policy direction for land and water managers and users to do business differently.
“The ongoing Beyond the Guidebook program is an element of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, and is an on-the-ground application of Living Water Smart. It helps focus the attention of local governments and the development community on what is an achievable outcome that makes sense, and results in net environmental benefits at a watershed scale.”
To Learn More:
Download a copy of The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series.
To obtain a sense of the curriculum for each 3-seminar series, download a copy of the Program Outline.
After that, read a set of series posted on the Vancouver Island community-of interest (COI) for complete information on the Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, held in June and July 2008.
Similarly, access the Vancouver Island COI to read a set of stories about the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, which was held monthly during the period September through November 2008.
2008 Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Series