Rainwater Management & Green Infrastructure: City of Courtenay hosted Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar #3 on November 21, 2008
Nature Knows No Boundaries: Moving Toward a Vision for Living Water Smart
The City of Courtenay was the host municipality for the second series of pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminars. The series is interdisciplinary and interdepartmental in scope, and promotes a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The third and final Comox Valley seminar was held on November 21. The meet-and-greet for each Learning Lunch Seminar started at 10:30am. Each event concluded at 3:00pm. To download the agenda for Seminar #3, click here.
Building on the common understanding developed in the first two seminars, a framework for ‘bringing it all together’ was introduced in Seminar #3. 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.
The emphasis was on a performance target approach to land development that makes sense, meets multiple objectives, is affordable, and results in net environmental benefits at a watershed and/or regional scale.
A desired outcome was that participants would understand how they can champion a Design with Nature approach to rainwater management; and make green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health.
Nature Knows No Boundaries
The theme for the third in the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series was Nature Knows No Boundaries. Two documents provided context for the day:
The Natural City (written by Saanich Councillor Vic Derman):
In this blueprint for action, the author introduces three lenses to shape the future of a region: Regional Growth Strategy; Climate Change: Quality of Life and Place.“Collectively, the three lenses bring our future into focus,” writes Derman. He lays out a layered design process that demonstrates how conventional approaches to urban design could be modified to meet the goals of the Natural City. Click on the following link to watch Vic Derman explain The Natural City on YouTube.Vic Derman defines a set of ten principles that provide a planning framework for The Natural City. One of these is a ‘design with nature’ way-of-thinking and acting.
Commentary on Effective Municipal Rainwater/Stormwater Management and Green Infrastructure to Achieve Watershed Health (prepared by the Green Infrastructure Partnership):
The Local Government Act empowers municipalities with extensive and very specific tools to proactively manage the complete spectrum of rainfall events.These tools enable municipalities to achieve watershed goals and objectives. The Commentary identifies actions that can be taken by municipalities to create liveable communities and protect stream health.
Seminar participants committed to a regional team approach that crosses boundaries and ensures consistency in doing business differently to achieve the shared vision, namely: Create Liveable Communities and Protect Stream Health.
High-level endorsement for a ‘regional team approach’ was provided when Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers representing all four Comox Valley local governments dropped in to show their support for the Learning Lunch Seminar Series. Click on this link to view a YouTube video of Sandy Gray, City of Courtenay CAO, 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.
Seminar #3 was structured in two parts: presentations in the morning provided context and understanding for an interactive session in the afternoon.
In the morning, Jack Minard (Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust) and Ron Neufeld (formerly with the Comox Valley Regional District; and now General Manager of Operations, City of Campbell River) connected the dots to Living Water Smart from the stream health and water supply perspectives, respectively. Their insights provided participants with a mind-map for the interactive segment in the afternoon.
Delivering on Expectations
In the afternoon, Laura Tate (Ministry of Community Development) outlined what the Province hopes to accomplish with A Guide to Green Choices. This was followed by a Table Topic Group Exercise that addressed this topic: Tell us what you have learned from this series that will now help you do what you could not have done before. After that, participants were asked to identify specific actions that would align local government efforts and facilitate regional collaboration.
Links to YouTube Videos
To both provide a record of the day and capture the flavour of the presentations in Seminar #3, a set of twelve video clips have been uploaded to YouTube. The maximum length is 10 minutes. Each You Tube clip provides a commentary to accompany the set of PowerPoint presentations listed later in this Water Bycket story. To hear and learn more about the Nature Knows No Boundaries theme, click on the small images below to access the YouTube videos.
In setting the context for the day, Derek Richmond 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.”
In this 2-minute vdeo clip, Kim Stephens explains how CAVI has defined water sustainability. “Where and how land is developed determines the sustainability of water supply and the sustainability of aquatic habitat,” he stated. “Soil depth is at the heart of the integrated solution.”
In this 10-minute video clip, Kim Stephens reviewed the learning outcomes for each of the three seminars in the series.”A design with nature approach and re-use of resources are key to climate change adaptation,” he stated in conclusion.
When he spoke on behalf of the four Comox Valley local governments, Sandy Gray (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. ”
In the first half of his presentation, Jack Minard explained the mission of the Comox Valley Land Trust and the Regional Conservation Strategy. “The Nature Without Borders report resulted from a bottom-up process,” he told his audience.
In the second half of his presentation, Jack Minard connected the dots to illustrate how to do business differently in the Comox Valley. He identified the steps in a Draft Workplan for a regional team approach. “Use natural systems as your infrastructure,” he said
In the first half of his presentation, Ron Neufeld used a driver training analogy to emphasize what makes good policy. “Good policy is knowing where the horizon is..so that you know where you want to get to,” he told his audience.
In the second half of his presentation, Ron Neufeld elaborated on the elements of a bottom-up and regional team approach to implementing provincial policy. “Success depends on cooperation across jurisdictional boundaries,” he underscored.
Brooklyn Creek is an inter-municipal drainage system. Derek Richmond (city of Courtenay) and Glen Westendorp (Town of Comox) told the story of a 1999 joint drainage study.”The Brooklyn Creek study established a precedent for working together to mitigate drainage impacts,” noted Derek.
Bryce Gillard, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, reinforced the collaboration theme when he provided a DFO perspective on what can be achieved through cooperation, information sharing and communication. “You cannot underestimate the importance of sharing information among jurisdictions,” he said.
Laura Tate introduced the four pieces of the puzzle that comprise Green Communities Initiatives. She then described what is in A Guide to Green Choices, released by the Province in September 2008. “We are providing local government with the infomation to make better decisions,” she said.
To conclude the seminar, Kim Stephens addressed the question: What Next? he quoted Eric Bonham: “It is appropriate to now start moving towards talking in terms of Vancouver Island as a whole in terms of sustainability, collaboration and creative partnerships.”
A set of seven PowerPoint presentations supplement the YouTube video clips listed above. Viewed together, the presentations provide a seamless storyline that elaborates on the Nature Knows No Boundaries theme for Seminar #3. To view or download any or all of the presentations, click on the links listed below.
Derek Richmond (City of Courtenay): Nature Knows No Boundaries – Context for a regional team approach
Kim Stephens (Water Sustainability Action Plan): Beyond the Guidebook: Create Liveable Communities & Protect Stream Health
Jack Minard (Comox Valley Land Trust): Nature WIthout Borders – Vision for a Comox Valley Regional Conservation Strategy
Ron Neufeld (City of Campbell River): Nature Knows No Boundaries – Living Water Smart
Derek Richmond & Glen Westendorp (Town of Comox): Nature Knows No Boundaries – Making Green Choices: Brooklyn Creek Case Study
Laura Tate (Ministry of Community Development): Nature Knows No Boundaries – A Guide to Green Choices
Table Topic Group Exercise
The Table Topic Group Exercise was an essential element of the seminar. Participants were asked to reflect on the series as a whole and brainstorm around this table topic: Tell us what you have learned from this series…that will now help you do….what you could not have done before. Each table had 15 minutes to brainstorm, and then each table chose one individual to report out on the #1 item identified by the table.
How can we work together to achieve the shared vision
After reflecting on what they heard in the reporting out segment, a number of Comox Valley representatives were called on to both identify and commit to specific actions that will align local government efforts and facilitate regional collaboration.
About the Learning Lunch Series
Common Understanding and Consistent Approach
The Learning Lunch Seminar Series promotes a consistent provincial approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay are the host local governments for the Vancouver Island pilot program. In total, the Vancouver Island local governments that will be participating 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. The Seminar Series is part of the implementation program for Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual, and is precedent-setting in its scope.
Posted November 2008