BUILDING NANAIMO REGION’S ACTIONABLE VISION FOR WATER & WATERSHEDS: “It all started with a conversation,” recalls John Finnie, General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities, Regional District of Nanaimo

Note to Reader:

Prior to retiring from government, John Finnie was General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities, Regional District of Nanaimo. He guided the RDN’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection (DWWP) function from idea genesis to program implementation before handing off the baton to his successors.

Looking Back while Moving Forward……..

Ten years ago, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) embarked on delivering a service never before established by a Regional District in British Columbia. The Drinking Water and Watershed Protection (DWWP) function, approved by elector assent in 2008, has provided water-related education & outreach, water data collection, science & monitoring, and water policy advocacy & planning support, for the past decade with marked accomplishments and certain challenges.

It Started With a Conversation

“Once upon a time, a conversation between an RDN Electoral Area Director and RDN staff resulted in a proposal to create a drinking water and watershed protection function and service area in the RDN Electoral Areas,” recalls John Finnie. “Subsequently, over 10 years ago, the Regional District of Nanaimo Board and Electoral Area residents supported a referendum to create this function.   Barely.  It was a challenging process and a very close decision, and could have been defeated.

“But the right decision was made and over the ensuing years the RDN established a respected legacy of actions supporting drinking water and watershed protection.  At that time, the RDN was the only regional district in the province to establish a taxation authority for watershed protection.

“In retrospect, it was a significant decision.  Few things rank as high in importance as sustaining our drinking water resources. The service area subsequently expanded to include the municipalities within the regional district, thereby strengthening the service and decision making authority.

“Key to the successful process at that time were a few committed staff and a visionary and supportive Board.  The torch (or bucket perhaps) has since been passed on to new staff and elected officials who remain committed to advancing drinking water protection in the region.

“The program is currently under review and this will result in updated and stronger water protection activities.  Collaboration, consultation, cooperation- all important factors in developing and moving forward with the program.

“The RDN program is respected and referenced by other jurisdictions wishing to follow the RDN’s lead in protecting our water resources – for drinking, for recreation, for fish, for life.

“And it all started with a conversation.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, visit Building Nanaimo Region’s “Actionable Vision” for Water & Watersheds

And then read CHARTING A NEW COURSE TO A SUSTAINABLE WATER FUTURE: “The Regional District of Nanaimo’s long-term innovative regional program to protect water resources recognizes watersheds as the best management unit and enables collaborative initiatives, including community participation in water monitoring and water conservation,” wrote Julie Pisani (Innovation Magazine, 2018)