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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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EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN: Comox Valley 2020 Symposium on climate change, collaboration and landscape restoration is the outcome of collaboration involving three non-government organizations that share a vision for reconnecting hydrology and ecology – the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT), the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, and the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (Join us in the City of Courtenay on April 23-24, 2020)


“The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend Comox Valley 2020,” urges John Finnie, Past-Chair, Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate. “The series is a building blocks process: Nanaimo in 2018; Parksville in 2019; and next, the Comox Valley in 2020. Each event builds on the last and points the way to the next.”

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DOWNLOAD PROGRAM BROCHURE for “Comox Valley 2020: Third Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate –– Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” (April 23-24, 2020)


“In April 2020, the third in the series will further open eyes and minds as to ‘what can be’ – because the Comox Valley has emerged as an incubator region for provincially significant precedents. Collaboration, across sectors and among rightsholders and stakeholders, is essential in order for communities to: mobilize and respond effectively to the present climate emergency; reconnect hydrology and ecology; and demonstrate that restorative land development is attainable,” states Kim Stephens.

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COMOX VALLEY 2020 SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE (April 23-24, 2020): An inter-regional perspective on why the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is viewed as an incubator region in British Columbia for collaboration precedents (Announcement #1, November 2019)


“Our model as a conservation partnership is very unique in British Columbia,” states Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. “There are at least six other conservation partnerships, but to the best of my knowledge we are the only one that focuses on local government. The Comox Valley Conservation Partnership brings together 23 different local groups and associations in one common forum to work proactively with local governments.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2017: Climate Change, Nature’s Services & Thinking Like a Watershed—the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium was an energizing moment; ripple effects included being the catalyst for an inter-regional conversation that resulted in the launch of the “Vancouver Island Symposia Series: Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate” in 2018


“The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values. With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices,” stated David Stapley. “The Eco-Assets Symposium promoted measures that capture the value of ecological assets to address infrastructure and climate change issues by integrating them into land use planning and practice.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: “A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley” – Joint Staff Training Workshop organized by the Comox Valley Regional Team initiated an educational process for communicating ‘design with nature’ expectations in urban watersheds


“The Water-Wise Guide is in essence both a call to action (for the community, but also for us) as well as a road map for that action,” said Nancy Gothard. “So, our goal was to begin to brand the story and to make it visible in the various regulatory agencies in the Valley. To depict visually that we were developing a consistency in expectations in how development would address environmental concerns. Having it available on every front counter and every website is a first step.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2014: “We cannot look at individual municipal services in isolation. Asset management is about a much bigger Umvelt,” stated David Allen, City of Courtenay CAO, when the Comox Valley Regional Team hosted the 4th in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Collaboration Workshop Series


David Allen introduced the audience to the Umvelt concept, which is the German word for ‘environment’ or ‘surroundings’. “Although the surrounding environment is common to all, each organism experiences the environment in a different way. Applied to asset management, this means that the Umvelt is larger in scope than the triple bottom line. Asset management is a ‘systems thinking’ method applied to organization-wide problem solving ,” stated David Allen.

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FLASHBACK TO 2011: “The award recognizes those who are leading the way and demonstrating overall commitment to water sustainability,” stated Daisy Foster when the BC Water & Waste Association honoured the ‘Comox Valley Regional Team’ with the Leadership in Water Sustainability Award


The regional team approach is founded on partnerships and collaboration; and seeks to align actions at three scales – provincial, regional and local. The term ‘regional approach’ has been part our vocabulary for a generation or more, but it has never resonated the way ‘regional team approach’ resonated in the Comox Valley. “Leadership in water sustainability must be demonstrated in any or all of four areas that correspond to the four elements of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,” stated Daisy Foster, (former) BCWWA Executive Director.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: Moving from boundaries to commonalities — ‘Comox Valley Developers Dialogue’initiated a conversation with the development community about collaboration, alignment and consistency to achieve truly integrated water-centric planning


“The format was excellent for ‘stirring the pot’ as it allowed for a variety of ideas, questions and comments to flow easily and freely. The non-formal setting made everyone comfortable in sharing comments, whether positive or negative. This is certainly appreciated among the building and development community,” stated Kip Keylock, representing the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It was very well noted that by simply outlining each groups’ needs could result in effectiveness and positive results… a huge step toward establishing a much needed synergy.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: The key message for the 2009 Comox Valley Seminar Series, titled “Getting Ahead of the Wave”, was about the ‘call to courage’ in order to ‘move from boundaries to commonalities’, and implement ‘design with nature’ solutions on the ground through partnerships and collaboration


“The power of the 2009 Series resulted from the fact that it was internally driven by staff. As a result, the process of organizing the series and developing the curriculum enabled people in all four local governments to work together,” stated Judith Walker, Municipal Planner with Cumberland. “The research conclusions by Tim Pringle really struck home for me, in particular his finding that proponents of major development projects are much better resourced than local government. We are always in a position of having to react.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: “It takes time for people to wrap their minds around a concept such as regional-based planning; and understand what it really means on the ground, and on a daily basis,” stated Jack Minard following release in 2008 of ‘Nature Without Borders: The Comox Valley Land Trust Regional Conservation Strategy’


“The Strategy aims to provide reliable and accessible conservation information to politicians, planners, developers, community groups and residents, and to assist in wise and informed land use decisions and conservation actions,” stated Jack Minard, (former) Executive Director of the Comox Valley Land Trust. “The desired outcome in developing the Strategy is to contribute to the quality of life of Comox Valley residents by working to protect the lands that are essential for ecosystem function, human health and well-being, economic sustainability, and civic pride.”

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