DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Cowichan Valley Regional District / Adapt to a Changing Climate” — the 1st in the Stories of Inter-Regional Collaboration Series, released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in January 2023

Note to Reader:

In 2012, the Partnership asked five Regional Boards — Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley, Capital Region, and Metro Vancouver — to endorse and actively support inter-governmental and inter-regional collaboration through a program that leverages more with the same resources. And so, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) was launched.

Adapting to floods and droughts in the Cowichan region

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability now has a multi-decade history under the Water Sustainability Action Plan umbrella. This allows us to reflect on both oral and written history, including the context that has informed our collective actions and thus shaped the journey that we are on together in the Georgia Basin bio-region,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director.

“The Cowichan Valley story is the first in a series of comprehensive ‘stories behind the stories’ of inter-regional collaboration among local governments along the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia.”

“It is by no means a technical report, although it is founded on technical concepts and understanding. Neither is it written in a technical format nor a technical style. Rather, this ‘story behind the story’ of the water sustainability mission in the Cowichan region weaves quotable quotes into a storyline that we hope readers will find enjoyable and compelling.”

“Through their stream-of-consciousness reflections that are transcribed from candid interviews, readers will gain insight into the motivations and actions of local government thought leaders. These champions are committed to doing what is right for the long-term common good of their communities.”

Through sharing and learning, ensure that where we are going is indeed the right way

“Our focus in this series is on inter-regional collaboration and how learning from each other has influenced, as well as been influenced by, initiatives and outcomes in the Cowichan region. The ‘implementation challenge’ is the driver for collaboration under the IREI umbrella.”

“A goal is to ‘get it right’ in stream channels and on the land draining to them. The challenge is to move from stop-gap remediation of problems to long-term restoration of properly functioning creeksheds in settlement areas. Success depends on passing the “intergenerational baton” from one administration to the next.”

“Know your history. Understand the context. Build on experience. Collaboration at all levels would help everyone better deliver on policy goals and regulatory requirements. Inter-regional collaboration helps the champions in each region understand what other regions are doing, what works, and what does not.”

“The Cowichan Valley ‘story behind the story’ is unlikely to be a best-seller or even read widely. However, our hope is that it will have lasting value as a legacy resource for those who wish to understand the past and build on experience and turn the wheel, not reinvent it. At the end of the day, if the Partnership did not tell the story of the ongoing ‘convening for action’ process, who would?”

Step Back, Learn from History, and Reflect on Next Steps

“In nature, form and function are key to how things develop. In the Cowichan Valley we have a dominance of electoral areas with proudly distinct communities, capable and engaged municipal partners, and a leadership that is characterized by true independence and internal reliance,” explained Kate Miller, Manager of Environmental Services with the  Cowichan Valley Regional District.

“This has resulted in a rich tapestry of watershed planning across our region.  There is no one model. Rather, we have a range of applications that are sensitive to the environment in which it was formulated and to the core drivers and champions that brought it forward.” 

“We truly have a rich basis in which to begin the process of stepping back, learning and reflecting on our next steps.”

“As we look out into the future in a changing environment – our new normal – this richness and the depth of community participation can only help our region’s future resiliency.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story of Cowichan Valley experience, download a copy of the 146-page Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Cowichan Valley Regional District – Adapt to a Changing Climate.