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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RECONNECTING HYDROLOGY AND ECOLOGY: “The Partnership for Water Sustainability in B.C. has identified the Town of Comox as a ‘beacon of hope’ because of the precedents it has established when implementing the twin pillars of the whole-system, water balance approach to land development,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, when he met with Town Council (September 2019)

“For more than a decade, the Town has been on an amazing journey. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia tells the Town’s story in the latest in our Watershed Case Profile Series,” stated Kim Stephens. “In this document, we recognize the passion, commitment and perseverance over many years on the part of Town of Comox local government staff and volunteers in the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society to improve where they live. Working together, they are making a difference.”

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APPROACH TO LAND DEVELOPMENT IN NORTHEAST COMOX IS PRECEDENT-SETTING: “As we proceed with next steps, the most challenging will be educating staff, developers, consultants, and home owners of the new standards, procedures, policies and guidelines,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Municipal Engineer, Town of Comox

The time, effort and energy it takes to change the standard of engineering practice is substantial, as the Town’s journey clearly shows. Implementing effective water balance management requires a systems approach on all levels. Ripple effects are cascading. “Changing engineering standards is a journey in itself. To ensure success, the Town will need to adopt the design standards, update existing subdivision servicing specifications, establish a number of bylaws, and implement a cost recovery program,” stated Shelley Ashfield.

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: “The Comox Valley consists of 26 watersheds. Each of us has a role to play to ensure these watersheds remain healthy for generations to come,” stated Judith Walker, Village of Cumberland planner, at the Joint Staff Training Workshop hosted by the Comox Valley Regional District

In 2008, the four Comox Valley local governments volunteered to be a ‘demonstration application’ for exploration of a regional team approach to ‘designing with nature’, guided by the watershed health target in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. “It does not matter how far away you live or build from a creek, lake, bog or the ocean – you are in a watershed,” stated Judith Walker. “The four local governments in the Comox Valley are striving for consistent application of outcome-oriented actions.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “The City of Parksville recognizes the importance of sharing a vision in order to get things done; and commends the Symposium organizers for recognizing the power of partnership and collaboration,” stated Mayor Ed Mayne when he welcomed delegates to Parksville (April 2019)

“We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as where water is going to be going over the coming years. We have to start turning this situation around NOW. Not in 5 years. Not in 10 years. It needs to start today. We need to start making things better,” stated Mayor Ed Mayne. “Operation of the Englishman River Water Service is guided by the mission statement which reads: An environmentally sensitive use of water to improve fish habitat and domestic water supply. At a time when the climate is changing, it is a delicate balancing act to achieve both outcomes when summers are getting longer and much drier.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “We like to engage streamkeeper groups to give them the knowledge to begin asking the tough questions of the people who regulate and look after their communities and their watersheds,” stated Richard Boase, Water Stewardship Symposium Series Moderator, when he shared his local government perspective on the value of citizen science to launch the Day One program at the Symposium (April 2019)

“In Metro Vancouver, groups such as the North Shore Streamkeepers (NSSK) are making a difference. NSSK collaboration with the District of North Vancouver underpins a water quality monitoring program. The District purchased state-of-the-art equipment and trained 10 volunteers who conduct sampling close to their neighbourhood,” stated Richard Boase. “Monitoring sites are located at strategic locations. Streamkeepers are collecting data and bringing it back to the District to look at and store in our database.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “Engagement of community through stewardship is a credible formula to be encouraged and mainstreamed at every opportunity,” stated Kim Stephens when he explained how the symposium program built on Nanaimo 2018 takeaways

Collaboration, teamwork and a recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is the energy that stokes creativity and determination. When this combination of citizen talent is aligned with a local government that is both visionary and focused, outstanding achievements are not only possible, but realistic. “Expressed as a formula, Community Empowerment + Sustainable Partnerships with Local Government = Foundation Piece for Restorative Development,” stated Kim Stephens. “An informed stewardship sector is a catalyst for action.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “Dear rain, may you fall in abundance, but not in excess. Wet the ground, water the trees, and continue throughout the seasons – preferably at night, while I sleep,” stated Paul Chapman in setting a humourous tone in the opening module of the Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate (April 2019)

“Galvanized by what they learned at the Nanaimo 2018 Symposium, a diverse group of stewardship groups out to do the hard work to become another collaboration success story,” stated Paul Chapman. “The time was right – a civic election was on the horizon, and the energy of the symposium was sparking ideas. We gathered as a group of like-minded individuals, and began to plan. out to do the hard work to become another collaboration success story,” stated Paul Chapman. “Branding is very important. And so, we came up with the Nanaimo Watershed Health Community of Practice as the name of the initiative.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > The Whole-System Approach – “It is not a sprint. We are in it for the long haul; and we all need to recognize that we are in it for the long haul. I wonder what Ian McHarg would think if he could be with us today, 50 years after he wrote Design with Nature,” stated Bill Derry when he delivered the opening keynote on behalf of Kitsap County’s Chris May, Surface & Stormwater Division Director (April 2019)

The ‘salmon crisis’ in the 1990s was the driver for pioneer research at Washington State University that correlated land use changes with impacts on stream health. The resulting science-based understanding opened the door to the Water Balance approach to rainwater management in BC. “Data are fine, but you must be able to show decision-makers and the public that we are making a difference and being cost-effective with funding,” stated Bill Derry. “You must be able to develop and tell stories. If you can tell stories well, that is how to make the biggest difference.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > Watershed Health and You – “This is a story about how a local group of streamkeepers has morphed from a focus on salmon and trout habitat restoration, to advocates for ecosystem monitoring of watershed functions… the Whole System Approach,” stated Peter Law, President, Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (April 2019)

“Since 2010, Our volunteers have embraced the idea of monitoring aquatic ecosystems and habitats in our watershed, often times partnering with agencies, local governments or private landowners to identify the status of certain indicators. We called the program ‘Watershed Health and You’,” stated Peter Law. “We are engaging our neighbours who live in the watershed, to discuss how the community can help restore Shelly Creek. The legacy of Faye Smith, and her mantra of engaging the community continues.”

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Parksville 2019 on YouTube > Watershed Health and You – “After the Arrowsmith Dam was built, most of the time we have been able to stay above the minimum fisheries baseflow requirement which establishes an operating rule for the Englishman River Water Service,” stated Vaughan Figueira, City of Parksville’s Director of Engineering (April 2019)

“The EWRS is a joint venture between the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo. It comprises the 20-yr old Arrowsmith Dam, a new river intake and water treatment facility. System operation is guided by this statement: An environmentally sensitive use of water to improve fish habitat and domestic water supply,” stated Vaughan Figueira. “The impact of wetter winters and drier summers on the seasonal water balance creates operational challenges in sustaining environmental flows.”

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