DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) in the Cowichan Valley, completed July 2018

Note to Reader:

EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, provides metrics that enable communities to appreciate the worth of natural assets. These resources provide numerous public benefits in the form of ecological services.  EAP also calculates the dollar value of the land occupied by the natural commons, thus providing a basis for budgeting maintenance and enhancement expenditures.  The natural commons has a corollary – the constructed commons.

Development of EAP began around 2015.  EAP is one of numerous initiatives of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (“the Partnership”). Context is everything. Thus, one should view EAP as representing a point along a “green infrastructure continuum”. It is the latest evolution in an ongoing process in British Columbia that had its genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

EAP is being developed in stages through demonstration applications that prove out the approach. Completed in 2018, Stage 1 tested the concept for leveraging the BC Assessment database to establish a financial value for the “Commons Asset” (the land comprising the stream corridor and riparian zone). The two demonstration applications were:

  • Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) in the Cowichan Valley
  • Brooklyn Creek in the Comox Valley

Underway in 2019, Stage 2 will refine the “valuation of worth” methodology (Stage 1) by further validating the EAP through pilots undertaken with collaborating local governments.

Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) in the Cowichan Valley

Busy Place Creek (Coast Salish: Sh-hwuykwselu) is situated south of Duncan, and within the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). Ecological services are provided to the regional community, local government, Cowichan Tribes and other organizations having an interest in the stream. Busy Place and Sh-hwuykwselu are used interchangeably herein.

Like many small creeksheds, Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) lies in more than one authority with jurisdiction within the watershed. Its upland source and discharge to the Koksilah River are in Cowichan Tribes lands, including the Cowichan-Koksilah estuary, which it nourishes. The mid-reach lies in the CVRD jurisdiction.

Inter-Regional Collaboration Context

“Selection of Sh-hwuykwselu as an ‘EAP Demonstration Application’ was made possible by the willingness of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to participate in a program funded by the governments of Canada and British Columbia,” reports Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“CVRD is one of five regional districts participating in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). EAP is one of the twin pillars of the ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’ program. The other pillar is the Water Balance Methodology.

“The insights and understanding gained through this demonstration application will be shared with other local governments.”

What the EAP Analysis Revealed

“The EAP analyses have described what the community and key intervenors think Sh-hwuykwselu creekshed is worth,” states Tim Pringle, EAP Chair. “At once they expect the creekshed to intercept and infiltrate rainwater, to recharge aquifers, to sustain riparian areas with aquatic and terrestrial life, to be a conveyance for stormwater systems and roadside ditches, to lend amenity value to trails and neighbourhoods, attenuate flooding and so on.

“Historic land uses have compromised this package of ecological services. Increasingly, key intervenors recognize the stresses imposed by land uses; since 2001 they have invested more than $405,000 in remediation and enhancement projects.

“A long-range strategy, implemented through periodic enhancement projects, could re-establish much of the hydrological function in Sh-hwuykwselu and increase social recognition of the importance of its ecological services.  EAP has suggested wetland “restoration” as the most viable strategy.

“Since no key intervenor has management responsibility for the creek and riparian zone, one organization might take leadership.  Cowichan Tribes best fits this role as manager of lands in the headwaters and at the confluence with the Koksilah River. Sh-hwuykwselu presents an opportunity to blend indigenous knowledge and western science in the process of enhancing Sh-hwuykwselu and its ecological services.”


To read the entire report, download a copy of Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process for Watershed Assessment: Busy Place Creek (Sh-hwuykwselu) Demonstration Application in the Cowichan Valley.

An aerial view impression of the different land uses in the creekshed