Convening for Action in BC: Five regional districts endorse inter-regional education program to “Integrate Natural Systems Thinking Into Asset Management”
The Georgia Basin is comprised of lands and watersheds that surround and drain into the Salish Sea. This inland sea encompasses the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Tributary lands include the east coast of Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Local Governments are Convening for Action in the Georgia Basin
Local governments are ‘learning by doing’ as they move forward in developing and implementing watershed-based solutions. Launched in 2012, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) provides local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island with a mechanism to share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience with each other as well as with local governments in the Metro Vancouver region.
Between March 6th and April 8th 2015, the Boards of five Regional Districts passed Resolutions that reaffirmed the commitment of all participating local governments to the next phase of IREI program implementation through 2017.
Participating Regional Districts
The five Regional Districts participating in the IREI are Capital, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting and is leading the IREI.
By 2017, an over-arching IREI program goal is that local governments in the five regions would truly understand how natural systems support municipal services and would be able to fully integrate this understanding and associated methodologies into programs, planning and funding.
“As a program lead tasked with developing an integrated watershed protection strategy on a regional scale, I have found that collaboration and sharing with staff at other regional districts through the IREI gives me new ideas and new perspectives for goals, strategies, and ways to evaluate progress,” states Dale Green, Program Manager for the Integrated Watershed Management Program, Capital Regional District.
“There are a lot of watershed protection resources available but there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction with others that are doing the same work.”
“The IREI is closely linked to CAVI – Convening for Action on Vancouver Island. The Comox Valley CAVI team includes representation from all four local governments, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the environmental stewardship sector, and the forestry sector,” states Kris La Rose, Manager of Liquid Waste Planning, Comox Valley Regional District.
“Comox Valley-CAVI facilitates collaboration at the regional level, and the IREI connects the regions for inter-regional collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, policies and approaches for rainwater management and more recently, asset management.”
“The conservation and protection of water and watersheds is a priority in the RDN and the inter-regional education initiative provides another opportunity to assist local governments to better understand the relationships between watershed and stream and site development,” states Mike Donnelly, Manager for Water & Utility Services, Regional District of Nanaimo.
“The region’s Strategic Plan recognizes the need to look for innovative ways to manage our water resource. By increasing our knowledge and understanding and by building efficient infrastructure we will reduce potential impacts and adapt successfully to new conditions.”
Metro Vancouver Region
“A number of tools, such as the Water Balance Model initiated by Metro Vancouver, have been further developed by the province and others and are now well known and utilized by municipalities across British Columbia and beyond,” states Simon So, General Manager for Liquid Waste Services, Metro Vancouver.
“Another example is the Monitoring and Adaptive Management Framework for Stormwater, developed by Metro Vancouver, its member municipalities and the Province, and approved by the Ministry of Environment in December 2014. This partnership arrangement of sharing information related to rainwater management and watershed health provides the collaboration needed to further the work and education across multiple sectors leading to positive and continuous improvement.”
“The IREI is a unique format for Georgia Basin local governments to learn from each other by sharing approaches and successes in managing our water resources,” concludes Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Officer, Cowichan Valley Regional District.
“The IREI program will integrate natural systems and climate change thinking into asset management, as well as demonstrate how local governments can progress along the ‘asset management continuum’ to achieve the goal of sustainable service delivery for watershed systems.”