NANAIMO REGION WATER PRICING WORKSHOP: “Through our Team Water Smart, the Regional District of Nanaimo is promoting water conservation because we see the benefits for drinking water and watershed protection,” stated John Finnie at the Worth Every Penny Workshop, organized under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan (September 2010)

Note to Reader:

Released in February 2004, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia introduced a framework for building partnerships and demonstrating what can be achieved through a ‘top-down & bottom-up strategy’ that aligns efforts at the provincial, regional and local scales to respond and adapt to a changing world.

2010 was a ‘watershed year’ for the Water Sustainability Action Plan, with outreach taking place at 10 major events in three regions, to provide peer-based learning for Living Water Smart, Building Greener Communities, and Adapting to a Changing Climate. The fourth of these events, held in September 2010 in the City of Parksville and hosted by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), was the ……

2010 Nanaimo Region ‘Worth Every Penny’ Water Pricing Workshop

Described as the first of its kind in Canada, the workshop was part of the rollout to stimulate a national dialogue on sustainable water management. The workshop program was a unique blend of research and practice. It connected the dots between three initiatives:

  • Action for Water, implemented by the Regional District of Nanaimo following approval in a referendum in November 2008.
  • Worth Every Penny: A Primer on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing, released in May 2010.
  • Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia, released in June 2010.

The process for program development for the workshop was the genesis for the phrase ‘sustainable service delivery’.  The process synthesized these three key ideas into one easy-to-remember term: financial accountability, sustainable infrastructure, and service delivery.

Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing

John Finnie, RDN General Manager of Regional and Community Utilities, opened the workshop by providing context. He was also Chair of the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative which was being implemented under the Action Plan umbrella.

“When we started the process to plan the workshop, we thought we might be lucky to attract perhaps 25 or 30 attendees, especially with it being held so soon after the summer holidays and the Labour Day weekend. “Much to our surprise and pleasure, we more than doubled that expectation with a final registration of 50-plus.  We attracted attendees from up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island as far as Port Hardy; as well as from the Lower Mainland, including the cities of Vancouver and Abbotsford,” stated John Finnie.

“Conservation-oriented water pricing is more than just charging more for water to conserve water. It is a balance between charging enough for water so that it imparts a conservation ethic, It is about balancing user rate revenues with taxation revenues in order to ensure that water systems can be adequately maintained.

“It is also about having a pricing strategy that provides affordable water for basic household use. That said, water pricing is likely one of the most effective water conservation tools that we have when combined with metering.

“The RDN is promoting water conservation as part of its Team Water Smart program. We see benefits to it, and we believe the program is working. At a recent provincial government workshop on a water science strategy for British Columbia, we realized that the RDN program is aligned with the direction in which the provincial government wishes to go.”

To Learn More:

For details of the program, click on Draft Agenda for Nanaimo Water Pricing Workshop

To access the complete set of stories posted on the Vancouver Island community-of-interest, and read about the individual presentations, click on 2010 Nanaimo Region Water Pricing Workshop

Download Workshop Storyline, the opening presentation by John Finnie, Chair of CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. Then watch the video of John Finnie: