"Forum within the Summit" attracts large turnout at the 2011 State of the Island Economic Summit

The Public Infrastructure Dilemma – How Will We Sustain Our Water, Our Streets and Ourselves?

The 2011 State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo included four pre-Summit sessions on the afternoon of October 18. One of these was hosted by Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) in association with the VIEA Sustainability Task Force.

Get It Right at the Front-End

“Branded as a ‘Forum within the Summit’, the focus of this session was on solutions to the ‘infrastructure liability’ challenge confronting all local governments. The Comox Valley is a provincial demonstration region for a regional and replicable approach to Sustainable Service Delivery. The Comox Valley regional team told their story and provided a context for open dialogue about challenges and solutions,” reports Tim Pringle, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. He was also a member of the presentation team.

The Audience

Kim stephens (120p) - 2011“The Forum attracted close to 80 attendees. The audience comprised two groupings: those who are already members of the CAVI constituency in the local government setting; and those who were presumably curious because of the session title. In other words, it was a diverse group representing a spectrum of perspectives. The split between converted and curious was perhaps one-third and two-thirds,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“It was therefore necessary to bring the entire audience up to a common level of understanding about challenges in the local government setting. So, in the first half of the 3-hour session, the members of our presentation team weaved a seamless storyline. This then informed the sharing and learning in the town-hall part that followed after the refreshment break.”

Forum Objectives

“We had three objectives in convening the ‘Forum within the Summit’. First, we were to CELEBRATE the collaboration that is happening in the Comox Valley. Secondly, and in building on what the Comox Valley has accomplished to date, we wish to START an Island-wide conversation about the ’20-80 Rule’ for infrastructure liability,” continues Kim Stephens.

“The ’20-80 Rule’ is shorthand for the fact that the initial capital cost of infrastructure is about 20% of the life-cycle cost. The other 80% largely represents a future unfunded liability. Historically, we have not thought about or planned for replacement of aging infrastructure. Governments are now challenged to find the money to mitigate this liability.”

“The third objective was to paint the big picture for WATER SUSTAINABILITY on Vancouver Island. It is all about influencing choices by individuals and organizations. We use the term ‘sustainability’ as a lens for considering approaches that influence choices. A key message is that we must get it right at the front-end of the land development process in order to achieve long-term sustainability, especially financial.” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that framed the objectives and learning outcomes, click on Storyline for the Forum within the Summit