FLASHBACK TO 2015: “The Comox Valley consists of 26 watersheds. Each of us has a role to play to ensure these watersheds remain healthy for generations to come,” stated Judith Walker, Village of Cumberland planner, at the Joint Staff Training Workshop hosted by the Comox Valley Regional District

Note to Reader:

Released in November 2015, Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management is structured in four parts to meet the information needs of different audiences. Local governments learn from each other and progress through sharing of case study experience. Hence, the spotlight is on Part D because it tells five regional stories, that is – for the Capital, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver sub-regions within the Georgia Basin. Extracted below is a synopsis of Comox Valley story elements.

In December 2015, the Comox Valley Joint Staff Training Workshop commenced the internal rollout of the Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley in each of the partner jurisdictions – Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland. The workshop also showcased the Water Balance Model Express for the Comox Valley, an online scenario comparison tool, and introduced the Water-Wise Website.

BYGB2015_Comox Valley_title page

Regional district restructuring was the genesis for “The Story of the Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team”

In September 2006, the CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative was launched. Co-funded by the Province and the Real Estate Foundation, the launch of CAVI set the stage for convening for action in the Comox Valley. The CAVI initiative challenged local governments to tackle this question:

“What will Vancouver Island look like in 50 years?” 

In June 2008, Comox Valley local governments volunteered to be a ‘demonstration application’ for exploration of a regional team approach that would be guided by the Living Water Smart target for watershed health. And so the CAVI-Comox Valley Regional Team was formed and embarked on a journey together.

Role Within a Bigger Picture

“The Comox Valley-CAVI team includes representation from all four local governments, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, the environmental stewardship sector, and the forestry sector,” stated Kris La Rose, Manager of Liquid Waste Planning, Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), and Chair of the Comox Valley-CAVI team, when he opened the Joint Staff Training Workshop.

“Rainwater management is a board strategic priority, and asset management is an important component of the financial plan for every group in the CVRD engineering services branch. Both topics are key elements of the IREI (Inter-Regional Education Initiative) and continued participation and collaboration with other regional districts will help us to achieve our goals in these areas.”

Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team:

Regional Restructuring Created Opportunity for Collaboration

The vision for a ‘regional team approach’ had its origins in the 2008 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, hosted by the City of Courtenay. The driver for action resulted from provincial intervention in Comox Valley governance.

Three Defining Moments Initiated the Process

In 2008, the Province completed the restructuring process that divided the former Comox-Strathcona Regional District into two new jurisdictions, one being the new Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD). At the same time, the Province mandated development of a Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy and a Regional Water Supply Plan.

In June 2008, the CVRD and its three member municipalities (City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland) agreed to a regional-based approach to conservation planning. In a Joint Resolution, all four formally endorsed Nature Without Borders: Comox Valley Regional Conservation Strategy, released in July 2008.

At the concluding seminar in the inaugural Learning Lunch Seminar Series (November 2008), Mayors and CAOs representing all four local governments publicly declared their collective endorsement of regional collaboration.

Sandy Gray, former City of Courtenay CAO, spoke on behalf of the Mayors and other CAOs and lauded the objectives of the Learning Lunch Seminar Series. “We are thrilled by the work of CAVI. It is a tremendous initiative,” he said. “The cooperation that is taking place around a consistent approach to development is very critical to all of Vancouver Island.”

Provincial Intervention

“The Ministry is moving forward with projects that offer custom solutions to specific regional district circumstances. While these projects are being designed to respond to specific circumstances, they may also serve as useful ‘pilot projects’ with application to other areas of British Columbia. The Regional Growth Strategy will have a very strong environmental focus and deal with urban intensification,” wrote Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services, in her July 2007 notice of intervention that defined the restructuring.

A decade ago, three regional strategies provided both a policy framework and a backdrop for inter-governmental collaboration in the Comox Valley:

  • Nature Without Borders (2008)
  • Regional Growth Strategy (2010)
  • Regional Sustainability Strategy (2010)

Kevin Lagan (120p)“Adoption of the regional strategies resulted in much for municipal staffs to absorb and digest about doing business differently, while at the same time they were tasked with keeping the wheels of government rolling to meet ongoing commitments,” recalled Kevin Lagan, former Director of Operational Services for the City of Courtenay. “Because water sustainability is achieved through implementation of green infrastructure practices, the Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team convened for action around this paradigm: Water is the finite resource; however, management of development is the control.”

To Learn More:

The Comox Valley chapter in Beyond the Guidebook 2015 is 12 pages and is organized in six sections as shown below. To download a PDF copy and read the complete story, click on Comox Valley-CAVI Regional Team.

To download a copy of the entire 158-page Beyond the Guidebook 2015, click on this link:

Scroll down to the Time-Line for the Comox Valley. It identifies milestones that show how the “regional team approach” evolved over a decade.