2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series leads to "Cowichan Valley Dialogue" on rainwater management
Cowichan Valley Series Promotes Regional Team Approach
The Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series is the first step in building a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. Precedent-setting in scope, this pilot program promotes a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations.
In 2008, participating Vancouver Island local governments represented some 250,000 people. The Cowichan Valley Regional District hosted the first series during the June – July period. The series is part of the implementation program for Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual, a provincial initiative.
At the third and final seminar in the Cowichan series, the focus was on watershed targets for protecting stream health. A walkabout through the Busy Place Creek drainage area helped pull concepts together for local government participants.
Conversation Leads to Dialogue
The emphasis in Seminar #3 was on creating opportunities for conversations because conversations lead to dialogue, and dialogue ultimately leads to consensus. For this reason, and after the opening segment, participants reconvened outdoors for group discussions in the sunshine before and after the Busy Place Creek walkabout.
Doing Business Differently
The holistic view is a key to doing business differently. “We have started a dialogue with regional technical staff…planning, engineering, building inspection and others….so that we can reach consensus on how this region will move forward with implementation of The New Business As Usual,” stated Kate Miller, the Cowichan Valley Regional District's Environment Manager, at the conclusion of the Cowichan Valley series.
“We need to go to the next step regarding how to communicate with the development community and the public about what rainwater management and green infrastructure mean on the ground…in the Cowichan Valley. For this reason, everyone participating in the seminar series needs to be thinking about what role YOU can play in developing rainwater management policy in your organization or your constituency.”
Consistency at the Front Counter
“Within the Cowichan Valley Regional District, there are five local government jurisdictions; and the same group of developers and development consultants have projects in all or most of those jurisdictions,” summarized Peter Nilsen, Deputy Engineer with the District of North Cowichan.
“It therefore becomes essential that developers and their consultants hear a consistent message regarding rainwater management and green infrastructure expectations when doing business at the front counters in each of those jurisdictions.”
Mayor Phil Kent of the City of Duncan expressed the importance of providing consistent and clear goal posts when it comes to managing rainwater. He noted that there are sophisticated and savvy developers who have the resources and expertise to accommodate new techniques and approaches; however, many customers just want help to get their building permits or projects approved and may get frustrated with too much perceived bureaucracy.
Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation
“This is precisely why we implemented the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation program on both sides of the Georgia Basin,” added Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. “Our experience is that once someone builds the first one, whatever that one may be, others will say what's the big deal, we can do that and we can do it better.”
Understanding Performance Targets
“By bringing everyone together in a seminar setting, this learning experience provides us with the same starting point,” concluded David Hewetson, Building Inspector with the City of Duncan. “We hear first-hand what was in the minds of the authors when they wrote the Stormwater Guidebook, the Green Infrastructure Guide, and Develop with Care. This then provides us with focus regarding a performance-based approach that will achieve the desired outcome…which is to ensure that our communities are liveable and we protect stream health.”
Cowichan Valley Water Balance Model Forum
The ‘by invitation’ Water Balance Model Forum in October 2008 was an outcome of the Learning Lunch Series. Willing development proponents and their planning/design consultants collaborated with the Water Balance Model team to develop three case study applications that were shared at the Forum.
Posted January 2009