Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Sustainability theme unifies an array of water-centric initiatiives




 Report by Eric Bonham

“There are a number of initiatives on Vancouver Island that are focusing upon the theme of sustainability and a water-centric approach to community development,” reports Eric Bonham. He is a former Director in two provincial Minstries (Environment, Municipal Affairs), a Director of  the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (BCWWA), and a founding member of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island

“The Vancouver Island section of BCWWA has encouraged such linkage and sought out partnerships to reinforce the common theme of water-centric sustainability based upon an island wide communications information exchange network. There are also similarities between the Convening for Action in the South Okanagan initiative and the Meeting of the Minds project on Vancouver Island, hence there is much to be gained through collaboration.”


Meeting of the Minds

“Further to the workshop held in Parksville September 2005, a committee was formed to further the aims of the Meeting of the Minds initiative. Based upon the five core areas of concern identified in Parksville, namely, Sustainability, Education, Governance, Infrastructure and Funding, the committee arranged a further one day workshop with invitations sent to the previous participants with some additions. The purpose of the workshop was to explore these issues in more depth and to identify topics of particular concern to the water and wastewater industry on Vancouver Island and to further the aims of establishing a Sustainability Information Exchange Network. The workshop was, once again guided by a professional facilitator, and was held in Parksville May 25, 2006.”


Gaining Ground

“The Gaining Ground Sustainable Urban Development Leadership Summit will be held in Victoria June 15-17, 2006. The event will bring together many forward thinking sustainability practitioners to share ideas on sustainability and restoration principles and to address the challenge of moving sustainability to mainstream policy, reflecting in business and industry practices.  There will be a number of showcase projects and thoughtful plenary presentations including speakers such as Maurice Strong and James Kunstler who has written a very thought provoking book entitled “The Long Emergency”. Kunstler argues strongly that we are not prepared for the end of the oil era and continuing suburban development will present a major planning challenge. This issue is all too evident on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in the province.  Website:


Saving Small Towns – Building Community

“This event will be held in the Town of Cumberland June 8-9, 2006. This is the fourth in a series of annual events that looks at the sustainability of small communities. The conference will address the values that attract people to small town living including the elusive mix of affordability, access to good services, civic places community events and friendly neighbours.” 


Water in the City

“This major conference will be held at the Victoria Convention Centre September 17-20, 2006. The conference theme is aimed at politicians, decision makers and the community who are engaged in water related issues. The conference will examine the current state, best practices, emerging technologies and future directions in water management. The conference covers a broad range of topics including government policy, governance, innovation, community stewardship, environmental education and social marketing that underscores water’s central role in sustainable and healthy communities. BCWWA are a supporting partner in this event. There is an important educational component to this conference including participation by students and school children.” 


Watershed Protection Steering Committee

“This committee was formed by Robin Gear from the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) with the purpose of providing a forum for regional districts on Vancouver Island to share issues of concern and, where appropriate, form partnerships on areas of common interest. BCWWA Vancouver Island is a member of this committee. There are many common links and areas of interest between the Watershed Protection Steering Committee and the Meeting of the Minds initiative in the interest of the long term protection of our watersheds.”


District of Highlands Integrated Water Strategy – Case Study

“The strategy has two major components, a groundwater management program including a monitoring component and a water/energy outreach community conservation program. The strategy has been developed through a three way partnership including council, staff and community. It is intended that a Community Water Forum be held in early summer to engage the community in the process. Given that the community is totally reliant upon individual ground wells and on-site septic systems it is anticipated that a closed-loop management system at the individual household level will be developed through educational material and information exchange. The closed-loop system could address water/energy conservation measures in the household, septic savvy and well monitoring.  This program if successful could be adopted elsewhere in the province where there is no centralized water/wastewater system.”


Water Conservation on the Island

“A very successful one day workshop entitled Water Conservation on the Island was held in Victoria March 9-10, 2006 with some 80 participants attending.  The workshop explored ways in which urban growth and technology are changing the ways we use water on Vancouver Island.  The range of presentations gave the participant a broad understanding of the challenges that face Vancouver Island regarding water quality and water quantity issues including the unknown climate change issue.  Throughout the workshop, a number of examples of innovation at the community level, agriculture and industry were presented and practical applications on water conservation were demonstrated throughout the day. The information gathered from this project will be shared with the participants.”


BCWWA Outreach Program

“The Drinking Water Outreach & Communication Program sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), BCWWA and Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) held two meetings on Vancouver Island January – February 2006. The purpose of the initiative was to clarify the roles of the various agencies in relation of the implementation of the Drinking Water Protection Act. To identify the responsibility of the local water purveyor in relation to the delivery of potable water and the necessary certification and classification of drinking water facilities and operators which would include any necessary training of staff.”


BC Lake Stewardship Society AGM

“The BC Lake Stewardship Society will hold their annual meeting at the Lake Cowichan Research Centre June 16-18, 2006. The theme of the conference will be alien species and how altered habitat, caused by humans and non-humans alike, can impact upon the quality of our lakes, many of which are supply sources for drinking water. The conference will identify ways that stewardship groups can be proactive in the protection of lake habitats through partnerships with local governments, colleges, universities and the local community.”


Posted June 5, 2006