VANCOUVER ISLAND WATER IS THE ONLINE HOME FOR THE STORY OF CAVI: “Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other,” urged John Finnie, CAVI Past-Chair (2006-2011)

Note to Reader:

This community-of-interest is the communication vehicle for Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, an initiative that is being delivered under the umbrella of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, a not-for-profit society.

Beginning in 2006, the CAVI program has been challenging Vancouver Islanders to think long-term and make decisions today that will create the future desired by all in 50 years. Having this website as the ‘CAVI home’ provides the opportunity to ‘tell the CAVI story’ and ‘record the CAVI history’ as a work-in-progress.

The island is a demonstration region for the ‘regional team approach’. Communicate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Collaborate. Share resources and learn from each other. CAVI, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island-Leadership in Water Sustainability, started with a conversation in 2005. Formally launched in September 2006, and funded primarily by government, the form of the initiative has evolved over the years. The program has demonstrated what can be done through partnerships and collaboration.

The following overview was written by John Finnie, founding Chair (2006-2011). When John Finnie retired from government, he was General Manager of Regional and Community Utilities, Regional District of Nanaimo. Although John retired from his day job, he has continued as a member of the Partnership’s Leadership Team.

Who is CAVI?

….. background & evolution

CAVI is the acronym for Convening for Action on Vancouver Island – Leadership in Water Sustainability.

CAVI is a grassroots collective partnership committed to achieving settlement in balance with economy and ecology, starting with water-centric planning.  CAVI was formally launched in 2006 at a consultation workshop held in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference.

“The original CAVI Partnership comprised the Water Sustainability Committee of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (BCWWA), the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the then Provincial Ministries of Environment & Community Services, and the Green Infrastructure Partnership,” explains John Finnie, CAVI Past-Chair (2006-2011).

“During the period 2007 through 2011, CAVI was co-funded by the Province and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia. Until 2010, the Water Sustainability Committee of the BCWWA was the managing partner and provided program delivery.”

“The CAVI program is now being implemented under the umbrella of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.  CAVI continues to reach out to groups that share a vision for Vancouver Island, with the goal of creating a roundtable of partnerships.”

“As of 2012, with the loss of regular support funding from the province and the Real Estate Foundation, CAVI depends on other partnership arrangements to support CAVI activities.  CAVI’s signature Learning Lunch seminars, promotion of water sustainability and Living Water Smart messaging and other educational activities, are made possible through partnerships and funding support from local governments and volunteer efforts of the CAVI membership.”

CAVI’s activities are organized and promoted by the CAVI Leadership Team, comprised of individuals from various sectors, including local and provincial governments, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, the POLIS Project for Ecological Governance and the Highlands Stewardship Foundation.

What does CAVI do?    

..…connecting the dots

CAVI provides leadership, coordination, research and education for practitioners.  While the target audience is primarily local government administrators, engineers, planners and elected officials, CAVI also encourages and supports participation by the province and by development, academic, First Nations and citizen communities. CAVI strives to establish partnerships and relationships with progressive and like-thinking organizations, such as the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance and local stewardship groups.  Collectively we can adopt water-centric thinking and plan for sustainable water resources in the context of future settlement activity on Vancouver Island.

What does CAVI want to do?

…..looking ahead

The CAVI mission is to continue building on CAVI’s focal activities to:

  • Provide leadership on water sustainability
  • Integrate with other groups
  • Bring together local government and the development community
  • Provide and organize  educational and learning opportunities and access to expertise
  • Encourage a ‘design with nature’ way of thinking and doing
  • Celebrate examples of green infrastructure that achieve ‘design with nature’ outcomes
  • Evolve a framework for water-centric planning that is keyed to accepting and managing risk, learning by doing and rewarding innovation

CAVI’s operatives are vision, partnerships, communication, education, ecological integrity, human well-being, sustainability, water-centric thinking and doing….or simply put, a desire to work together for Vancouver Island.

Green Infrastructure

…..what are we talking about?

Growth and resulting cumulative impacts are the driver for implementing changes to where and how we develop land and use water.  To help advance a new way of thinking about land development, CAVI promotes use of the following hierarchy of ‘green’ vocabulary:

Green Value means land use strategies will accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which communities depend.  The heart of a Green Value approach is the valuation methodology that provides the business case for reconciliation of short-term versus long-term thinking related to risk and profit.

Design with Nature is one approach to achieve Green Value, and supports community goals related to building social capacity.  Design with Nature equals:

˃ compact complete communities;  ˃ more transportation options;  ˃ reduced loads on water, waste and energy systems;  ˃ urban green space protection;  ˃ lighter hydrogeological footprint;  ˃ stream, wetland & lake protection.

Green Infrastructure is on-the-ground application of Design with Nature standards and practices

Water Sustainability emphasizes conservation and reduced use and is achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.


… begins with a conversation

CAVI brings together those who plan and regulate land use (local government), those who build (developers), and those who provide the legislative framework (Province).

CAVI provides support, expertise and learning opportunities to local governments and other organizations with a focus on achieving water sustainability, then helps them share their ideas, activities and successes so that others can see how they too can get on board.

How do I learn more about CAVI?   

….becoming informed

Contact Kim Stephens, P.Eng., Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC at