NATURE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES IN THE COMOX VALLEY: Hosted by the City of Courtenay, the 2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series provided the springboard for a regional team approach to break down boundaries through the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination – and better manage land and water resources

Note to Reader:

Published in June 2008, Living Water Smart is the provincial government’s vision and plan to keep British Columbia’s water healthy and secure for the future. An over-arching goal is to encourage local governments to do business differently.

Nested under Living Water Smart is the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, a partnership umbrella for action on the ground. The Water Sustainability Action Plan is also nested under the Green Communities Initiative.

Rainwater Management & Green Infrastructure – aligning local actions to achieve Living Water Smart goals

The Water Sustainability Action Plan comprises inter-connected program elements that give local governments and practitioners the tools and experience to better manage land and water resources.

One of these program elements is the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series, and is being implemented through CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. This is adding depth to Living Water Smart. The City of Courtenay was the host municipality for the second of two pilot series on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series –
A Regional Team Approach

The Learning Lunch Seminars promote a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The desired outcome is that local government and private sector practitioners will make green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health.

At Seminar #3 in November 2008, participants explored a regional team approach that would ensure consistency in doing business differently to achieve a shared vision, namely: Create Liveable Communities and Protect Stream Health.

High-Level Endorsement

High-level endorsement for a ‘regional team approach’ was provided when Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers representing the four Comox Valley local governments dropped in to show their support for the Learning Lunch Seminar Series.

Sandy Gray, City of Courtenay CAO,  lauded the objectives of the Learning Lunch Seminar Series. “We are thrilled by the work of CAVI. It is a tremendous initiative,” he said. “The cooperation that is taking place around a consistent approach to development is very critical to all of Vancouver Island.”

YouTube Video:

Watch a YouTube video of Sandy Gray speaking on behalf of the four governments:

Striving for Commonalities

The Learning Lunch Seminar Series provides the springboard for bottom-up regional action to communicate, cooperate, collaborate and coordinate. It is expected that senior staff from the four Comox Valley local governments will now report back to their Councils and the Regional Board regarding moving forward with What Next action items arising from the Learning Lunch Series.

ICourtenay learning lunch seminars - derek (160p)n setting the context for the day, Derek Richmond (Manager of Engineering, City of Courtenay) explained the difference between boundaries and what he called commonalites. “To be successful, we need to work outside our normal boundaries,” he said. “And we need to proactively communicate and work with others.”

YouTube Video

Watch Derek Richmond explain why a Comox Valley regional team approach was the desired outcome for the series:

He opened his presentation with a satellite image of North America, and then progressively zoomed in to show the boundaries of the newly formed Comox Valley Regional District. “Man imposes his own boundaries. So, we have an issue of inconsistencies … or incongruities …  between natural and imposed boundaries which sets up a series of problems.”

The Paradigm-Shift

“Our challenge is to work around and with boundaries,” continued Derek Richmond. “Ideally, we would like to shift the paradigm from boundaries to areas of commonality.”

“If we are to have a team approach, we need to think globally and act locally. We need to think of ourselves as a team, not as individuals within silos; and we need to break down boundaries through communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination.”

To Learn More:

Download a copy of Nature Knows No Boundaries – Context for a regional team approach, the PowerPoint presentation by Derek Richmond.

About the Learning Lunch Series

The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay were the host local governments for the Vancouver Island pilot program. In total, the participating Vancouver Island local governments represent some 250,000 people.

  • The Cowichan Valley series comprised a set of three sessions held during the June – July 2008 period.
  • The Comox Valley series comprised a set of three sessions held during the September – November 2008 period.

The Learning Lunch Seminar Series is the first step in building a regional team approach so that there will be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure.

Beyond the Guidebook

The Learning Lunch Seminar Series is part of the implementation program for  Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual, and is precedent-setting in its scope.

Beyond the Guidebook builds on the foundation provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, published in 2002, and incorporates lessons learned over the past six years in moving from planning to action.