Mission Possible: CAVI and VIEA champion a 50-Year Vision for Vancouver Island


Each year, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) holds a State of the Island Economic Summit.  In  2011, CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island hosted “A Forum within the Summit”. This showcased how one region – the Comox Valley – is collaborating as a regional team. Eric Bonham, a founding member of the CAVI Leadership Team, delivered opening remarks about “Mission Possible”.



What Do We Want Vancouver Island to Look Like in 50 Years?

In June 2010, VIEA and Leadership and the Leadership Society of Vancouver Island co-organized the Dialogue in Nanaimo: Fresh Water Sustainability Is in Our Hands. The goal was to provide a springboard for Island-wide action. The organizers invited members of the CAVI Leadership Team to be part of a Water Panel that had broad-based representation.


Genesis for CAVI-VIEA Collaboration

The most significant outcome of the Dialogue in Nanaimo was three-way alignment of VIEA, the Leadership Society and CAVI. The decision to align efforts led directly to a CAVI breakout session at the 2010 State of the Island Economic Summit. Titled Water for Life and Livelihoods: What Drives Large-Scale Real Estate Development in the Mid-Island Region?, the session was a collaborative effort of CAVI and the Leadership Society.

In November 2010, and as an outcome of CAVI participation in the Summit, the VIEA Board adopted a 3-Year Plan which identified collaboration with CAVI as a high priority for 2011. This commitment was reaffirmed by the VIEA Board in February 2012.

“A promising partnership was formed with VIEA. This partnership provides an opportunity to develop an integrated approach to sustainability on Vancouver Island based upon a balanced understanding of the relationship between the economy and the environment,” reported Eric Bonham after the 2010 Summit. 

“We must look outside our boundaries and work with our neighbouring communities for the betterment of all. Vancouver Island could be a test case…to show the world literally….how we can collaborate and pull things together.”


Linking Island Leaders Project

Rick roberts (160p) - viea past-chairInitiated in 2009, VIEA’s Linking Island Leaders Project found that a groundswell is building up and down the Island for regional collaboration.

“VIEA collaboration with CAVI creates an opportunity for early success in moving forward with the Link Project. The ‘Forum within the 2011 Summit’ can provide us with a springboard to Island-wide action,” stated Rick Roberts, VIEA Past-Chair. “Together we can achieve much in all things…just imagine the strength of committed individuals all working towards a common focus.”


A 50-Year Vision for Vancouver Island: Settlement, Ecology and Economy in Balance

At the “CAVI Forum within the 2011 Summit”, Eric Bonham connected the dots between the CAVI vision for water sustainability and the VIEA vision for linking Island leaders.  One of his objectiveds was to paint the big picture for WATER SUSTAINABILITY on Vancouver Island. “It is all about influencing choices by individuals and organizations,” observes Eric Bonham.


Top-Down & Bottom-Up Strategy

“In looking at the big picture, we have the audacity to suggest that we should be looking at a 50-year vision for Vancouver Island. The important point is the objective of bringing together settlement  ecology and economy in balance. (The report on the Link Project) is an absolutely superb report. There is a lot of correlation in what I am seeing in the VIEA report and what we are talking about for CAVI,” stated Eric Bonham in his keynote address at the Forum He then quoted as follows from the Link Project:

  • “Vancouver Island is a place of great promise and needs to think big. Think about Vancouver Island 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now.”
  • “Our leadership supports visionaries and champions. We need more of them.”

Eric Bonham then told the story of John Muir, founder of the national parks system in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. John Muir was a grass-roots visionary who gained the ear and the support of President Teddy Roosevelt. This historical perspective brought to life the concept of a top-down and bottom-up strategy to achieve MISSION POSSIBLE.

“Mission Possible” is the desired outcome of a 50-year vision for Vancouver Island – a vision that results in settlement, ecology and economy being in balance. To illustrate the achievabillity of “Mission Possible”, Eric Bonham told the story of the inter-municipal Bowker Creek Blueprint that has been developed for the urban heartland in the Capital Regional District. The Blueprint is a 100-Year Action Plan for restoring watershed function, one property at a time.


To Learn More:

To download a copy of the keynote presentation by Eric Bonham  at the “2011 Forum within the Summit”, click on Mission Possible: A 50-Year Vision for Vancouver Island. To view video clips of Eric Bonham posted on YouTube, click on:

And to access a video clip of Eric Bonham telling “the CAVI story” at the 2009 Resilient Cities Conference, click here.

Also, to access a set of five video clips of Eric Bonham elaborating on Mission Possible at the Bowker Creek Forum in February 2010, click here.


About the Link Project

“During a 12-month period ending October 2010, VIEA administered a research project that we called Linking Island Leaders. The results of this project contained the collective voices of several hundred island leaders. What they shared with us went way beyond the initial mandate of the project and set the foundation for a huge leap forward in Regional Economic Readiness,” explains Rick Roberts.

“Any Regional Economic Strategy and workplan however will only become a reality through collaboration. As American Mattie Stepanek said: ‘Unity is strength…where there is teamwork and collaboration…wonderful things can be achieved’.”


To Learn More:

The Link Project collected the pieces of the puzzle that create a picture of economic development for Vancouver Island. For the complete story on the set of six recommendations, click on Link Project Report