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Vancouver Island Water

The island is a demonstration region for the ‘regional team approach’. Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other. CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island-Leadership in Water Sustainability, started with a conversation in 2005. Formally launched in September 2006, and funded by government, the form of the initiative has evolved over the years. The program has demonstrated what can be done through partnerships and collaboration.

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IN MEMORIAM: “While continuing with his numerous other duties, Kim Hyatt graciously agreed to come aboard as a team member to support the Watershed Moment Series because its unifying theme, Reconnecting Hydrology and Stream Ecology, aligned with Kim’s expertise and passion,” stated Nick Leone, a colleague in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, when he reflected on the late Dr. Kim Hyatt’s commitment to integration of applied research, community science and collaboration across government levels, and in partnership with community conservation and stewardship interests (June 2021)


Kim Hyatt made significant contributions to DFO in significant and lasting ways, including his work on the Wild Salmon Policy, advice relating to salmon restoration and recovery under the Columbia River Treaty and climate change impacts to salmon populations. His passion for discovery and excitement for innovation resulted in a number of long-standing relationships with First Nations and external organizations—relationships that Kim built on trust, commitment, and honest communication.

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WATER EFFICIENT YARDS AND GARDENS: “The BC Landscape Water Calculator is a new tool for the CRD’s Summer Waterwise Campaign. It has real potential to foster a stewardship ethic on the part of homeowners,” stated Glenn Harris, Senior Manager of the Capital Regional District’s environmental protection team


“CRD saw that our participation in the BC Landscape Water Calculator initiative would benefit both our residential and business water conservation programs. When CRD launches Waterwise Summer as part of Live Green in the Yard and Garden, we will promote the BC Landscape Water Calculator as part of the program. The campaign objective is to raise awareness throughout the region about water conservation. We will present the BC Landscape Water Calculator as a tool that anyone can use to design a water efficient irrigation system and landscape plan,” stated Glenn Harris.

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FINANCIAL CASE FOR MILLSTONE RIVER ECOLOGICAL SERVICES: “The report on application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, will help the City look at how to improve and enhance the value of the Millstone greenway and help the City prioritize future restoration of this important natural feature that runs through the heart of our beautiful City,” stated Rob Lawrance, Environmental Planner with the City of Nanaimo


EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, focuses on drainage and the condition and/or integrity of stream corridors. “There are many threats that are degrading our environment, such as invasive species, but there are also opportunities to enhance our environment, such as tree planting to rebuild the health and diversity of our watercourse riparian areas. The EAP process helps underscore the value of these investments into our streams and rivers and the value Nature contributes back for our community to benefit from,” stated Rob Lawrance.

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DRINKING WATER & WATERSHED PROTECTION IN THE NANAIMO REGION: “The Millstone River and EAP (Ecological Accounting Process) project are a vignette for the bigger mandate of the DWWP. Both demonstrate project level partnerships with stewardship groups; as well as partnerships across local government jurisdictions,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s case study report on the Millstone River EAP Project was approved by the RDN Board (April 2021)


“The EAP methodology reflects the understanding that landowners adjacent to the stream corridor and setback zone and the broader community share responsibility for and benefit from the condition of the stream as well as the financial and ecological value of the land it occupies. The report suggests a general framework for local governments to consider in using the lens of ecological accounting within Corporate Asset Management Plans,” stated Julie Pisani.

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FLASHBACK TO 2019: “We have moved beyond continuing education solely for the purpose of professional development. We are exploring what implementation of regional policy means on the ground,” stated Glenn Westendorp when he reflected on the collaborative framework for the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series


From 2008 onwards, Glenn Westendorp was an enthusiastic player in the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative as a member of the CAVI-Comox Valley Regional Team. In 2019, he retired from local government as Superintendent of Public Works with the Town of Comox. Upon retirement, and to recognize his sustained commitment to the Living Water Smart vision, the Partnership for Water Sustainability honoured Glenn Westendorp with Lifetime Member status for his help in demonstrating the benefits of the ‘regional team approach’ in the Comox Valley.

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GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “In the IREI program, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation,” stated Richard Boase, Founding Director and Vice-President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


Launched in 2012, the IREI facilitates peer-based learning among local governments located on the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. The IREI builds on the legacy of Erik Karlsen whose leadership inspired the original Georgia Basin Initiative in 1994. “The IREI is nested within the Water Sustainability Action Plan which, in turn, is nested within Living Water Smart. Cascading is the reverse way to think about this nesting concept. Each successive layer in the cascade adds depth and detail to enable the move from awareness to implementation – that is, action.,” stated Richard Boase.

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INTERWEAVING WESTERN SCIENCE AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE: “My work related to water and reconciliation has put the spotlight on a new angle. Is reconciliation just dealing with the past and acknowledging the pain and moving on, or is it something more complex than that?” asked Michael Blackstock, Indigenous Independent Scholar and creator of Blue Ecology


“My question for the Western science world is this: Are you prepared and willing to change your definition of water in science? And if you are, what would the change in definition look like? No longer is it ceremonial. The methodology for Blue Ecology is about the actual work of interweaving the strengths of two cultures to reconcile them. It is time for First Nations to take a seat at environmental policy tables, as respected knowledge keepers who understand and respect water. Indigenous teachings can improve Western science,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION VS INTER-GENERATIONAL LEGACY: “It really is important for us to be focused on the future. We have mapped out the next 10 years with Action Plan 2.0, but our vision really needs to remain focused on a much longer time horizon. 10 years is not enough. 100 years is what we need to be looking at.” – Randy Alexander, General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities, as quoted in the story of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program, published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in March 2021


“Externally, we have been successful at forging, developing and maintaining strong long-term partnerships; and realizing that we are all in this together. Our success depends on our ability to leverage our resources with those of others to achieve common goals, and to understand what those common goals are. The DWWP program has found that its natural role is to bring together diverse groups; and to identify what those common goals are so that we can efficiently pool our resources and focus our joint efforts to achieve results,” stated Randy Alexander.

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NANAIMO REGION’S JOURNEY TO A WATER-RESILIENT FUTURE: “We are proud of our accomplishments over the last 10 years, and our vision remains focused on the future. The Drinking Water & Watershed Protection program helps us make informed decisions today, and create the framework for sustainable decision making for the long term,” stated Tyler Brown, Board Chair, Regional District of Nanaimo (April 2021)


Strong and enduring political leadership is a critical success factor. Over the past two decades, successive Regional Boards have handed the DWWP baton to their successors to carry on the mission. “The DWWP regional service was created explicitly to protect water at a watershed scale. The program is a leading example of how local governments can drive innovation and be a powerful influencer in watershed sustainability. Our recently adopted Action Plan for the next 10 years will allow the program to continue to innovate, better protect our water, and extend its reach,” stated Tyler Brown.

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FLASHBACK TO 2005: “The District of Highlands is at a critical stage in its development and must clearly identify its future plan regarding density limits and land use planning goals,” stated Eric Bonham, Chair of the Highlands Stewardship Foundation, when he delivered a context presentation for a breakout session at the “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


The challenges facing the District of Highlands provided breakout groups with a case study application – identify key gaps and needs for evolving along the water management continuum and achieving a water balance. “The community has its own vision, united as it is by landscape – rocky uplands and dense coastal forests. This shared terrain has shaped a building and road pattern with a small ‘footprint” on the land, along with a unique rural lifestyle. These values are clearly identified in the Official Community Plan,” explained Eric Bonham.

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