Rainwater Management on Vancouver Island: Report from the VICT Co-Chairs



VICT co-chairs: jay bradley & chris jensen

Capturing Rain Where It Falls

On the west coast, January is a month where one cannot help but think about Jay bradley rain garden (200p)water.  For Jay Bradley it’s an opportunity to test the “source controls” he has installed in his backyard – rain gardens, swales, French drains and infiltration chambers – not to mention a green roof for a shed he is designing.  


Innovation on the Ground

On the broader topic of source controls, we are seeing many innovative approaches being put into practice in communities throughout Vancouver Island.  For example, we invite you to take a quick tour of local LIDs in the Capital Regional District to get a taste of what is happening on the ground (http://www.crd.bc.ca/watersheds/lid/rainwater-tour.htm)

As we work within our jurisdictions as change agents, we should not forget Confucius’ maxim, that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  This is imperative to remember as we push the envelope from within, and face the challenges of systemic inertia and old ways of thinking.  With ‘give and take’ and small successes, change may be small but we are making headway. 


Convening for Action on Vancouver Island

As the local governmental operational arm of Convening for Action Vancouver Island (CAVI), the VIC Team is making progress that we can be proud of.   It is estimated that 85% of local governments on Vancouver Island now have built examples of Low Impact Development projects.  

Local government action and support are resulting in a continuous increase of the number of LID projects which mimic natural rainwater processes such as infiltration.LID is no longer on the wish-list – it is becoming the norm!

The involvement of each VIC Team member has been essential to this progress.  I’ll highlight some of our recent successes.


A Look Back to 2008

In 2008, VICT’s efforts were concentrated on the Cowichan Valley Regional District with a successful Learning Lunch Series, followed by a Water Balance Model Forum.  The outcomes of the series were dialogue and education, awareness and capacity building.  

This was especially timely in the midst of the Cowichan Basin Plan that was then being considered by the CVRD, with a focus on the relationship between water and land use. Our success was evident, with the Cowichan Valley Regional District becoming one of the more recent subscribers of the Water Balance Model. 

In 2008, the City of Courtenay hosted the first Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series.


Getting Ahead of the Wave in the Comox Valley

The Cowichan Valley and Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series laid the groundwork for further successes in 2009.  

CAVI’s efforts were focused on the Comox Valley, and its Learning Lunch Seminar Series “Getting Ahead of the Wave.”  With the formulation of the Regional Team Approach to water governance, we are seeing an ‘on-the-ground’ commitment between the Comox Valley Regional District and its member municipalities.   The Comox Valley series demonstrates that “alignment and collaboration” is not a pipedream.   

VICT / CAVI are demonstrating on-the-ground, practical successes, and our scope of geographic and operational influence continues to expand.


Cross-Fertilization with Metro Vancouver Region

Vancouver Island experience has and will serve as a template for approaches and options in other regions.  Last year in March the “Metro Vancouver Water Balance Forum” was hosted by the City of Surrey, to feed the discussion concerning how a consistent Metro Vancouver regional approach might be realised, and how performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure might be put into practice. 

The cross-fertilization created ideas from Vancouver Island that were directly incorporated into the Recommended Policy Framework for Liquid Resource Management in Metro Vancouver, which was released in July 2009.


A Look Ahead to 2010 Program

In 2010, CAVI and VICT will continue to build a  legacy that will shape our future for this and other regions.    The ‘Regional Team Approach’ theme will continue to thread itself into two Learning Lunch Series, with one being hosted by the Regional District of Nanaimo and the other in the Comox Valley. 

Again each series will prove itself as a  forum to share experiences and highlight successes, and perhaps more importantly, to change attitudes towards water.  This “bottom-up” approach is also aligned with the Province’s “top-down” initiative to modernize the Water Act; in this manner, we are the champions who are taking Living Water Smart to the next level.


Staying Connected

As we connect the dots, it is important to stay connected.  Don’t forget the network of change agents that VICT and CAVI represents, and that ideas and support (or even encouragement!) are only a phone call or email away.  Don’t forget to check out the CAVI site regularly, and familiarize yourselves with the VICT page and the drop-down menu of member profiles.   And do remember to share your stories and successes on the Living Water Smart web-site under its newly added  “Your Stories” section.

With another year of progress before us, we are looking forward to seeing you all at the 2010 Learning Lunch Series.

Jay Bradley, Chair & Chris Jensen, Co-Chair


Posted January 2010