Inter-Regional Collaboration & Watershed Health in the Georgia Basin: Cowichan Valley Regional District strives to bridge gap between awareness of what needs to be done vs ensuring action will happen
Note to Reader:
Led by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI) provides local governments on the east coast of Vancouver Island with a mechanism to collaborate, share outcomes and cross-pollinate experience with each other and with local governments in the Metro Vancouver region.
The IREI was launched in 2012. Five regions are participating: Cowichan Valley, Capital Region, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver.
Regional Asset Management Project: Built and Natural Systems
When the Cowichan Valley Regional Board met on April 8th 2015, it passed a Resolution that supported the request from the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC for endorsement of continued participation by the Cowichan Valley Regional District in the IREI. The request and Resolution were part and parcel of the co-application for a Gas Tax Grant to fund continuation of IREI program implementation through 2017.
“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,” stated Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Officer, Cowichan Valley Regional District.
The co-application by CVRD and the Partnership was made on behalf of all the regional district partners.
Framework for Inter-Regional Alignment & Capacity Building
Five regional districts are participating in the IREI. Each region has established its vision and goals for water and watershed sustainability. Yet each region currently faces implementation challenges in bridging the gap between awareness of what needs to be done versus ensuring that action will happen on the ground.
“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” is a timely and much needed driver for action to achieve the cascading objectives for Watershed Health, Resilient Rainwater Management and Sustainable Service Delivery. The next phase of the IREI would help all regions move forward with consistent and effective “implementation and integration” on the ground.
The plan is that the IREI program will be undertaken as three sequential phases of effort, generally as summarized in the table below:
Capacity Building Grant Application
“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,” wrote Jacob Ellis, Deputy CAO, in his report to the Regional Services Committee Meeting of March 25, 2015.
“The IREI program supports the CVRD’s Phase II Regional Asset Management Project: Built and Natural Systems. This is an important capacity building project to support the development of an asset management program for regionally funded CVRD assets. This includes examination of integrating natural systems into our asset management planning.”
The IREI program is designed to help local government champions implement ‘Design With Nature’ standards of practice for development and infrastructure servicing. Healthy streams and watersheds will provide community-supporting ecosystem goods and services.
Context for Collaboration
The Partnership for Water Sustainability’s history of collaboration with the Cowichan Valley Regional District provided context for the co-application: