2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series exceeds expectations for doing business differently

Pilot program aligns local actions with provincial goals for creating liveable communities and protecting stream health

This story describes the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series in the words of those who embraced the concept and made it happen. This provincial pilot is precedent-setting. It came to fruition because of the commitment, the energy and the dedication of the local government partners in three regional districts – Cowichan, Comox and Nanaimo.

The story describes how this pilot fits into a bigger picture; and how the program elements that comprise Convening for Action on Vancouver Island are linked. Each success builds on the last, and paves the way for the next.

To download a report-style, PDF version, click on The Story of the 2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series.

The Story of the 2008 Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series

Vancouver Island is the pilot region for making green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health.  Precedent-setting in scope and approach, this water-centric and grassroots initiative is designed to inform and educate local government and private sector practitioners:

  1. Founded on partnerships and collaboration, the regional pilot is being delivered through CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island.
  2. CAVI brings together those who plan and regulate land use (local government), those who build (developers), those who provide the legislative framework (the Province), those who provide research (university and college), and those who advocate conservation of resources (stewardship sector).
  3. Designed through an inclusive and participatory process that draws on the experience of planning and engineering managers in local government, CAVI program elements are outcome-oriented.
  4. The challenge posed by CAVI is this: Visualize what we want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years.
  5. The CAVI vision is to move toward water sustainability and A Positive Settlement Strategy for Vancouver Island by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices.
  6. CAVI defines green infrastructure in terms of a Design with Nature approach to climate change adaptation.
  7. Program elements include the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series and the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series.
  8. These activities are providing local government and the development community with the tools and experience to do business differently.
  9. This initiative is advancing a regional team approach that aligns local actions with provincial goals and objectives.
  10. And is also establishing consistent local government expectations for implementing rainwater management and green infrastructure: This is what we want to achieve, and this is how we will get there.

The CAVI regional pilot is funded by the Ministry of Community Development, the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, and the Ministry of Environment. The program commitment is multi-year.

The success of the pilot Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series has exceeded expectations; and provides a road map for adding depth to Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan. This is a route to the CAVI vision of what Vancouver Island could look like in 50 years and beyond.

The telling of the story of the Learning Lunch Seminar Series describes how local actions align with provincial goals and objectives.

Genesis of the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series

“When we came up with the Learning Lunch idea, our objectives and expectations were quite modest,” reports John Finnie, CAVI Chair (and General Manager of Water & Wastewater Services, Regional District of Nanaimo).

“We wanted to explore a collaborative approach that we believed would help local governments make informed land development decisions that meet multiple objectives.”

“The idea was an outcome of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Forum that CAVI and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities co-hosted in December 2007.”

Inter-Departmental Alignment

“Although this high-profile event was a success, we concluded that there had to be a more effective way to inform and educate those who would benefit most,” explains John Finnie. “That realization led us to sound out several local governments about an idea we had for inter-departmental learning that would result in a common understanding of green infrastructure challenges and solutions.”

2008 learning lunch pilot - table topic (200p)“In early 2008, we were thinking in terms of a small group setting….perhaps 12 to 15 people drawn from the various departments within a willing local government,” adds John Finnie. “We wanted to bring together engineers, planners, building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers; and we wanted the focus to be on aligning efforts to implement effective green infrastructure.”

Inter-Governmental Alignment

2008 learning lunch pilot - kim stephens (160p)“The idea resonated, so much so that the original inter-departmental concept quickly mushroomed into an inter-governmental concept,” explains Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia and the person responsible for curriculum development for the Learning Lunch Seminars.

“The Cowichan Valley Regional District and City of Courtenay both volunteered without hesitation to host a regional seminar series, in part because of the opportunity to play a leadership role provincially.”

Alignment with Provincial Policy

“We designed the Learning Lunch curriculum to help local governments determine how they will achieve the over-arching policy statement on page 43 in Living Water Smart. We describe this as ‘adding depth’ to Living Water Smart,” reports Kim Stephens:

  • By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits (page 43, Living Water Smart)

2008 learning lunch pilot - lynn kriwoken (120p)“This statement of government policy is the lynch-pin of Living Water Smart.” This aligns with CAVI’s Design with Nature framework for climate change adaptation, states Lynn Kriwoken, Director, Innovation and Planningin the Water Stewardship Division of the Ministry of Environment,

Rewarding Good Behaviour:

“Living Water Smart is a provincial strategy; we must look at it as a shared responsibility,” adds Glen Brown, Executive Director, Local Government 2008 learning lunch pilot - glen brown (120p)Infrastructure and Finance Division of the Ministry of Community Development.

“Actually, it is not one strategy; the Province has a number of strategies. The Province is looking at raising the bar as far as what we are trying to accomplish with standards, provincial legislation and infrastructure grant programs.”

“We really have to look at how we develop land. Ultimately this requires leadership and champions on the ground. The message is that the Province is rewarding good behaviour.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, click on The Story of the 2008 Learning Lunch Seminar Series,

Posted January 2009