“The genesis for CAVI was ‘Meeting of the Minds’, a grass-roots initiative that started in 2005,” says John Finnie, Founding Chair, CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island
Note to Reader:
In 2005, the first of two “Meeting of the Minds” workshops was held in Parksville on Vancouver Island. The driving force in bringing together representatives of a range of agencies was Eric Bonham, then the Director of Engineering with the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs. A decade ago, Eric Bonham championed a vision for building a communications network to address issues facing the water and wastewater industry on Vancouver Island. In 2006, “Meeting of the Minds” morphed into CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, and John Finnie became the inaugural CAVI Chair.
Leadership in Water Sustainability: 10-year milestone for “CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island”
Historical Context for Building a Network
“A decade ago when I was still with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, I had the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of Vancouver Island and talk to people about the issues of concern to them. I would ask: where are we going on Vancouver Island,” recalls Eric Bonham. Retired from government, he is the heart and soul of the Leadership Team for the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“It became clear through all these conversations that there was a shared concern: there was no forum for discussing the future of Vancouver Island. The north was not talking to the south, and the east was not talking to the west. So, we said let’s pull these people together. And we did!”
“The first step in filling the need for a regional forum was to establish a networking system. We called it Meeting of the Minds. In September 2005 we convened a focus group of 40 people in Parksville. It was a diverse group. That was deliberate. There were people from three levels of government, academia, NGOs, First Nations and the business sector. We were proactively seeking the participation of individuals who were committed to action.”
“We conducted the session very much as a listening post. It was astounding what came out of it as a result of the incredible enthusiasm. We filtered the input into five themes: education, growth management, sustainability, governance and funding. It was the consensus of the group that the dialogue initiated at the workshop continue in the future, with the goal of building an effective long-term communications network that would address issues facing both the public and the water and wastewater industry on Vancouver Island.”
“This consensus led to a second ‘Meeting of the Minds’, again in Parksville, in May 2006. At the close of this gathering we decided to make the quantum leap. We said…okay, this has to go beyond the Meeting of the Minds concept. And so, at the Water in the City Conference in September 2006, we launched the idea of Convening for Action on Vancouver Island…..CAVI.”
A Decade Later, Reflecting on Success
“Ten years ago, when Eric Bonham organized the first ‘Meeting of the Minds’ workshop to talk about water sustainability on Vancouver Island, I was a bit skeptical that it would take more than just a group of ‘minds’ getting together to move water-centric thinking and actions forward,” continues John Finnie, CAVI Past-Chair, and former General Manager, Regional and Utilities, Regional District of Nanaimo. He also is a member of the Partnership’s Leadership Team.
“But that first meeting evolved into a significant initiative. In a relatively short period of time, Convening for Action on Vancouver Island successfully engaged governments, the development community, academia, consultants and the public in making the importance of water sustainability a common thread in discussions and decisions around land development, water use and water conservation.”
“CAVI demonstrated what can be done through conversations, collaboration, commitment and partnerships. We need to continue having conversations. They lead to action and action leads to accomplishment. Happy 10th Anniversary, CAVI – let’s keep talking!”
Sharing the CAVI Story
“Over the past 10-years, CAVI’s steady growth has been based on a series of solid steps and careful confirmation of cooperative understandings. It is now recognized as an example of successful, collaborative achievement and has evolved to where it is now able to communicate those proven ‘island’ ideals to a global audience – for example, at the 2nd Leahy Environmental Summit held in Vermont earlier this year, an event hosted by US Senator Patrick Leahy, the dean of the United States Senate,” concludes Derek Richmond, current CAVI Chair. Prior to retirement from government, he was Manager of Engineering with the City of Courtenay.