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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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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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WATERSHED MOMENTS, THE VIDEO TRILOGY: “Passion is the glue for collaboration when everyone shares a common set of values and a vision for reconnecting people, land and water,” stated Paul Chapman, Chair, Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (ANNOUNCEMENT – just click on the links to view the Trilogy on YouTube)


“Producing three videos in just six months required an incredible commitment by all 15 members of the Watershed Moments Team . As I reflect on all three modules in the series, the thread that attaches them all is the different layers of responsibility that team members represent. Yet most team members only knew a few of the other members when we began our sprint to create the series. Through the shared experience of doing something bold and original, everyone connected and bonded in a way that would not have happened without COVID,” stated Paul Chapman.

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INTER-GENERATIONAL CAPACITY-BUILDING: “Partnerships with local governments and others are essential. They allow students to work on collaborative projects. Everyone benefits,” stated Graham Sakaki, Research & Community Engagement Manager, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute at Vancouver Island University


“Our collaboration with regional partners is guided by a vision that working together we can increase the environmental, social, cultural, and economic sustainability of the biosphere region. VIU students have assisted with working on all the Ecological Accounting Process case study projects that have been completed in partnership with MABRRI. Both undergraduates and graduates have assisted with these projects,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “We are turning the tide because development and redevelopment projects are now incorporating features for rainwater runoff capture,” stated the City of Nanaimo’s Dean Mousseau at the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Series, a peer-based education initiative under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia


The Inland Kenworth truck and heavy equipment facility in the City of Nanaimo illustrates what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality challenges a development proponent to be innovative. “We view this project as the one that has changed the thinking of the consulting community in Nanaimo, particularly on redevelopment projects,” stated Dean Mousseau when he reflected on the changes that had taken place in Nanaimo as an outcome of establishing the Inland Kenworth precedent for ‘designing with nature’.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: At the finale seminar in the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series, participants explored a regional team approach in the context of a joint study by the Town of Comox and City of Courtenay to determine the source of flooding problems and identify drainage improvements in the inter-municipal Brooklyn Creek


“Flooding was caused by undersized culverts and poor grading. Traditional engineering solutions would have resulted in a linear total loss of habitat, would have significantly impacted on private property, and the costs were well beyond the the financial capacity of the Town. Instead, a course of action involving a suite of solutions was chosen. First and most important was a commitment by all jurisdictions to hold the line,” stated Glenn Westendorp.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “In speaking to the land development versus watershed protection compatibility challenge, the key message in the presentation by Kim Stephens was that what we believed to be ‘unachievable’ in 1998 may in fact now be within our grasp,” stated Marie Savage, Executive Coordinator with UDI Victoria, and organizer of the UDI learning lunch series


“Urban land use has been degrading the natural environment for more than 100 years. Sit on that for a while. 100 years, perhaps more. Holy smokes. So what’s all this talk about developers and builders, the ultimate urban land users, protecting watersheds? It’s true. Developers who increase the amount of pervious surfaces on their sites keep rain on-site, delay runoff, and reduce flooding. City planners and engineers love this,” stated Marie Savage.

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VIDEO 3 / RESTORATION & RESILIENCE / WATERSHED MOMENTS VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM / AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: Titled “International Year of the Salmon”, two versions are available for viewing / one is the stand-alone documentary; the other is the livestream broadcast which includes the Q & A session / Video 3 was livestreamed on December 3, 2020


“A common theme that emerged throughout the Watershed Moments series is the need for better integration of the science, knowledge base and governance processes that are currently applied in a somewhat fragmented fashion to the management of natural assets across various levels of government and societal groups. The other general theme is the development and implementation of new analytical or assessment tools and standards that will move the general desire for greater interdisciplinary integration forward,” stated Dr. Kim Hyatt, Fisheries & Oceans Canada.

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VIDEO 2 / VALUING ECOLOGICAL ASSETS / WATERSHED MOMENTS VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM / AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: Titled “Ecological Assets as Systems and Services”, two versions are available for viewing / one is the stand-alone documentary; the other is the livestream broadcast which includes the Q & A session / Video 2 was livestreamed on November 26, 2020


Emanuel Machado and Tim Pringle agree that the key message to take away from the video of their session is that: “We are looking at a whole system. The natural and built environments are interconnected. Without an ecological system, there are no ecological services.”

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IN MEMORIAM: Gail Adrienne (1944-2020), founding Executive Director, Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT) – “Gail was a force FOR nature”


Vancouver Island’s Gail Adrienne had her hands, heart and soul (and considerable will) invested in NALT’s and the Nanaimo community’s stewardship success. Her legacy is felt when hiking Mount Benson or looking up at its seasonal snow-covered heights. Her work is reflected in B.C.’s thriving land trust movement. Her efforts inform the decisions made by the City of Nanaimo’s Environment Committee and are reflected in the City’s Official Community Plan.

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REGISTRATION OPEN FOR WATERSHED MOMENTS, THE VIDEO TRILOGY SERIES: 2020 Virtual Symposium on “Actionable Visions for Reconnecting Hydrology and Ecology in an Altered Landscape” – a unique and interactive experience delivered via YouTube on November 19 / November 26 / December 3


“The changes wrought by COVID 19 have allowed NALT and the Partnership for Water Sustainability to dare to be bold in integrating technology platforms and co-host what we anticipate will be a compelling virtual symposium. We are integrating Zoom and YouTube to create a viewing experience that captures the passion, knowledge and wisdom of our team members in conversation. The vision for the Video Trilogy Series is that it will take on a life of its own as a legacy resource that informs, educate and creates understanding,” states David Mackenzie. He is the technical director for production of the series.

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