DESIGN WITH NATURE: “Developing a more thorough understanding of the community’s natural assets aligns with the city’s overall asset management efforts,” stated Courtenay CAO David Allen

The Courtenay River breached its banks in 2014, flooding adjacent areas

City of Courtenay Selected for National Pilot Project

The City of Courtenay has been chosen to participate in a national pilot project that will help strengthen the City’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

72 communities from across Canada are participating in the initiative. Courtenay will be using the pilot project to develop an action plan for flood mitigation in the downtown core through a combination of natural assets and the built environment.

Natural assets are ecosystem features such as wetlands that provide, or could be restored to provide, services like storm water management.

2018 Municipal Natural Asset Initiative (MNAI)

Courtenay’s pilot project will be supported through the 2018 Municipal Natural Asset Initiative (MNAI), a partnership between the Town of Gibsons, Smart Prosperity Institute, The David Suzuki Foundation, and Brooke & Associates.

The initiative supports local governments in their efforts to integrate natural asset management into core asset management and financial processes, with a goal of understanding, managing and valuing natural assets in an equivalent manner as a community’s built environment.

Input to an Action Plan for Flood Mitigation

City of Courtenay CAO David Allen said that developing a more thorough understanding of the community’s natural assets aligns with the city’s overall asset management efforts.

“We’re very pleased to have been selected for a natural asset pilot project here in Courtenay, and it puts us on the leading edge nationally for this approach,” noted Allen. “We’ve already seen the effects of several floods in low-lying areas in recent years, and it makes sense to maximize the potential of our natural environment to reduce the potential impact of these events on residents and businesses.

“Natural asset management is a cost-effective, sustainable way forward, and Courtenay’s efforts could potentially be used as a model for other communities dealing with similar challenges,” added Allen.

Over many decades, the natural flow of the Courtenay River has been modified through a combination of privately and publicly-owned dykes, berms, seawalls, and bridge abutments. Responsibility for nearly all of these constructed assets now falls under the City of Courtenay.

Project Funding

Principal funding for the MNAI projects will come from the pilot project communities for their own purposes. Funding up to $110,000 had already been set aside in the City of Courtenay’s 2017 budget for flood mitigation planning through a Stormwater Master Plan. As an MNAI pilot project, Courtenay will now have access to additional funding, expert support and guidance.

This initiative is offered through the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) which is delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada. MCIP is a five-year, $75-million program designed to support and encourage Canadian municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Courtenay’s MNAI pilot project will review opportunities for natural asset management throughout the flood plain, including the Kus-kus-sum property (formerly Fields Sawmill). Project Watershed and K’ómoks First Nation recently announced that an agreement had been reached with Interfor to purchase and restore the property. The City of Courtenay is reviewing opportunities for joint land ownership with K’ómoks First Nation to facilitate the site restoration process.