GETTING AHEAD OF THE WAVE: Goal of the 2009 Comoax Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series – raise awareness and create understanding of “An Integrated Wtershed Approach to Settlement”—because nature knows no boundaries

Note to Readers:

An early outcome of the seminar planning process is the goal of “an integrated watershed approach to settlement”. To help Comox Valley stakeholders understand what integration looks like, the organizing team has developed a graphic to illustrate how various plans and initiatives must ultimately be integrated by an Implementation Plan. The value of the graphic is that it allows the organizing team to say “this is what we mean, and why we must work together”.

The  “integrated watershed approach to settlement” graphic has provincial application because the elements that must be integrated are common to all growth regions. The organizing team has also introduced the phrase “areas of commonality” in order to define a way-of-thinking that will lead to alignment of actions.

Context for the 2009 Series

“The Regional Growth Strategy and Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy provide the Kevin lorette - comox valley regional districtbackdrop for the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series. The spotlight is on how to implement the regional team approach – that is, a unified approach from all levels of government,” states Kevin Lorette, General Manager of the Comox Valley Regional District’s Property Services Branch. “At the end of the day, water is the underpinning of the community, and an integrated watershed approach to settlement is essential.”

Defining the Goal

Everyone is busy in their jobs such that it is a challenge to assimilate multiple plans and initiatives that are underway at a regional scale in the Comox Valley. To provide focus and clarity regarding the desired outcome of the 2009 Series, the Comox Valley Organizing Team defined the goal of a regional team approach to be An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement.

To help stakeholders conceptualize what a vision for balance and integration would look like, the Comox Valley Organizing Team then created the graphic shown above. This conceptualizes the elements that must ultimately be integrated to achieve the goal of An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement.

Looking ahead to 2010 and beyond, the ultimate goal of the regional team approach is to maximize the intersection of the elements. This means creating linkages among the different areas of action, thereby helping to create a stronger implementation plan – that is, what all the plans will achieve.

“To be successful, we all need to work outside our normal boundaries; and we need to proactively communicate and work with others,” states Derek Richmond (on the left in the photo), Manager of Engineering with the City of Courtenay. “We need to think of ourselves as a team, not as individuals within silos; getting there means we will have to break down boundaries through communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination.”

From Boundaries to Commonalities

“Our challenge is to work around and with boundaries. Through the 2009 Learning Lunch Series, we would like to shift the paradigm from boundaries to areas of commonality,” continues Derek Richmond.

“The desired outcomes will include inter-departmental collaboration, inter-municipal sharing, and regional alignment. A key message is to view ‘planning’ not as land-zoning function but as a multi-faceted and iterative process that embraces the concept of truly integrated water-centric planning.”