Cowichan Valley Regional District: Historical context and history of participation in Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative
Collaborate, Share Outcomes and Cross-Pollinate Experience
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.
It built on the foundation created by the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative during the period 2006 through 2012. CAVI created awareness of the benefits of collaboration, and of a Design with Nature approach to land development.
Game-Changers for Watershed Health Action
“As a Provincial Biologist with the Ministry of Environment for 30-plus years, I became acutely aware of how our existing land development practices are causing natural systems to degrade. I have supported the need for ‘change’ through educational approaches promoted by the Partnership to Design with Nature,” states Peter Law, a Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
He has a long-term perspective on the land and water resources of Vancouver Island and what needs to be done to protect watershed and stream health. Of note, Peter Law was Chair of the Inter-Governmental Steering Committee that oversaw development of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.
“The IREI program for local governments connects the cascading objectives for Watershed Health, Resilient Rainwater Management, and Sustainable Service Delivery. The initiative is designed to help local government champions integrate natural systems thinking and adaptation to a changing climate into asset management. A desired outcome is healthy streams and watersheds. So, implement ‘Design With Nature’ standards of practice for development and infrastructure servicing. Protect and restore stream corridors and fish habitat. Provide community-supporting ecosystem goods and services.”
“Released in December 2014, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework is a landmark development. Coupled with the new Water Sustainability Act, passed in May 2014, it provides local governments with a fresh impetus to do business differently. The benefits and value of Design With Nature solutions grow over time,” concludes Peter Law.
CVRD History of Collaboration
As detailed in the table below, CVRD participation in inter-regional activities dates back to 2007. The seeds were actually first planted in December 2006 when Peter Law, accompanied by Kim Stephens, met with CVRD staff and representatives of member municipalities in Duncan.
At that time, three provincial Ministries and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) had decided to align their efforts and collaborate to facilitate a consistent, science-based approach to rainwater management on Vancouver Island. The meeting with CVRD was their first action.
“The meeting was a success. CVRD leadership then made it possible to bring together three mid-Island regional districts in a partnership that co-hosted Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation on Vancouver Island: The 2007 Series,” recalls Peter Law. “The series launched the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative. In turn, CAVI success resulted in the building of long-term relationships which laid the foundation for the IREI program.”
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