FLASHBACK TO 2010: Regional District of Nanaimo hosted "Worth Every Penny: A Workshop on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing and Sustainable Service Delivery



Note to Reader:

Held in the City of Parksville in September 2010, the Nanaimo Region Water Pricing Workshop was the first of its kind in Canada. Part of the rollout to stimulate a national dialogue on sustainable water management, the workshop program was a unique blend of research and practice. The workshop program featured Worth Every Penny: A Primer on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing, published in May 2010 and co-authored by Kirk Stinchcombe and Oliver Brandes.



Worth Every Penny Workshop stimulated dialogue on Sustainable Service Delivery

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) collaborated with the POLIS Water Sustainability Project (University of Victoria) and CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island to hold the Water Pricing Workshop in September 2010.

John finnie (120p)

“There were two parts to this sharing and learning event,” states John Finnie, former General Manager of Regional & Community Utilities with the RDN. He is also CAVI Chair. He was also Chair of CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island from 2006 – 2011. “In the morning, the spotlight was on conservation-oriented water pricing; and in the afternoon, the focus shifted to sustainable service delivery.”

“The desired outcome for the Worth Every Penny workshop was that participating practitioners would understand why ‘conservation-oriented water pricing’ is a tool to achieve a larger end, that is: sustainable service delivery.” 


Three Initiatives: Connecting Dots

The workshop program connected the dots between three initiatives:

  • Action for Water, implemented by the Regional District of Nanaimo following approval in a referendum in November 2008.
  • Worth Every Penny: A Primer on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing,released in May 2010.
  • Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia, released in June 2010.

Kim stephens - 2010 (120p)“Sustainable service delivery is an emerging issue in BC. Changing and/or additional demands mean the local government workload is expanding. Local governments are being challenged to maintain and/or replace existing infrastructure over time, and to ‘do more with less’.“ states Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. He was the workshop moderator.


It’s the Cost of the Service!

Oliver Brandes and Kirk Stinchcombe anchored the morning part of the all-day program, and tag-teamed to deliver An Introduction to the Water Pricing Primer.

“Kirk led and I provided colour commentary throughout the session,” recalls Oliver Brandes. “Because the purpose was knowledge-transfer, we believed it would serve the audience to have more than one talking head. We primed them for the sharing of water pricing experience that followed in the afternoon part of the program.”

“We talk about water pricing, but we are not actually talking about the price of water. We are talking about the services to provide the water,” emphasized Kirk Stinchcombe.

“Water users are not even coming close to covering the full costs of the water services they enjoy. A solution is to begin charging individuals and businesses what water really is worth, based on the volume they use.”

To learn more about the distinction, click on Stimulating a National Dialogue and view a 4 1/2 minute video of Kirk Stinchcombe and Oliver Brandes settting the context for the morning segment of the workshop program.


Call to Action

“Water pricing is a hot issue in communities across the country. Yet it remains an almost totally untapped option for helping ensure our water service infrastructure — the pipes, pumps and reservoirs — is well maintained and up to date,” stated Kirk Stinchcombe.

“With publication of the Water Pricing Primer, my co-authors and I hope to stimulate a national dialogue on this issue by making the  case for the use of conservation-oriented water pricing as tool for sustainable water management and to promote a modern approach to water infrastructure financing in Canada.”


To Learn More:

To access the homepage for the workshop, click on 2010 Nanaimo Region Water Pricing Workshop to read the set of stories that provide a complete and comprehensive picture of the workshop program.


Oliver Brandes (L) and Kirk Stinchcombe (R), co-authors of “Worth Every Penny”, published in May 2010