GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “In the IREI program, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation,” stated Richard Boase, Founding Director and Vice-President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability

Note to Reader:

The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful. The Partnership is led by a team of community-minded and mission-focused elders. Although many on the team are retired from their jobs, they continue their water-centric mission as volunteers. These individuals bring experience, knowledge and wisdom to the Partnership roundtable. This enhances the effectiveness of the Partnership as the hub for a convening for action network. 

In November 2016, the new Societies Act came into effect in British Columbia. It provided clarity regarding types of societies. This clarity helped the Partnership define its identity. The Partnership is not, and cannot be, a member-funded society. The reason is that The Partnership is funded mostly by government and provides services to government. Directors are the only formal ‘members’ and are the only ones to have voting rights.2

The Partnership is the secretariat for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). Five regional districts, representing 75% of the BC population, are partners in the IREI program.

Peer-Based Learning through Sharing of Experience and Knowledge: Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative

Launched in 2012, the IREI facilitates peer-based learning among local governments located on the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. The IREI builds on the legacy of Erik Karlsen whose leadership inspired the original Georgia Basin Initiative in 1994.

“In the IREI program, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. This plays out in everything that the Partnership does. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation. Listen, listen, listen. Conversations lead to dialogue. In turn, dialogue leads to consensus,” explains Richard Boase, Founding Director and Partnership Vice-President.

Nested Initiatives / Cascading Objectives

“The IREI is nested within the Water Sustainability Action Plan which, in turn, is nested within Living Water Smart. Cascading is the reverse way to think about this nesting concept. Each successive layer in the cascade adds depth and detail to enable the move from awareness to implementation – that is, action.”

“A desired outcome of inter-regional sharing and learning is a common understanding of the science and consistent application of a whole-system, water balance approach to community development. Branded as Sustainable Creekshed Systems, through Asset Management, the goal of this approach is to reconnect hydrology and ecology.”

High-Level Endorsement / Grant Funding 

“In 2016, The Partnership asked the five regional districts for Board Resolutions that: 1) expressed their support for The Partnership; and 2) endorsed IREI program objectives through 2021. Having this clear demonstration of support was a difference-maker for The Partnership. We secured senior government grants to fund the IREI program through 2021.”

“Five years ago, and under the leadership of Tim Pringle, the Partnership introduced the vision for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. The driver for EAP is degradation of stream channels and streamside protection areas. EAP addresses the elephant in the room which is the unfunded cost (hence liability) to protect, remediate or enhance stream systems in urban and rural landscapes.”

EAP Program Showcases Benefits of Inter-Regional Collaboration

“It has been five years of hard slogging by EAP Chair Tim Pringle and his team to test, refine and mainstream EAP. EAP bridges a gap and is a game-changer. EAP satisfies a local government need for a financial methodology and metrics for valuation of ecological assets. Most importantly, EAP interweaves the financial, social and ecological perspectives within a single number.”

“This has been accomplished through collaboration with a group of local government partners willing to break new ground. This has only been possible because of the trust-based relationships that the Partnership has developed through collaboration over the past two decades. The success of EAP underscores the essential nature of the role the Partnership plays as the hub for a network.”

“By the end of 2021, the Partnership will have completed two demonstration applications in each region for a total of ten. Each case study is unique in that partner communities frame creekshed-specific questions to be addressed by their EAP application. Each case study yields key lessons and results in fresh observations. Each has supported the depth of analysis for subsequent EAP applications.”

Watershed Moments Symposia Series Also Showcases
Inter-Regional Collaboration

Watershed Moments, the Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate is a forum for showcasing what can be accomplished through collaboration. Richard Boase is the Series Moderator. Watershed Moments 2021 will be the fourth in the series.

“The Partnership  and NALT, the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust, are the founding partners for the series. Four Vancouver Island regional districts, along with federal and provincial representatives, are members of the Watershed Moments Team,” continues Richard Boase. “Each symposium event builds on the last and points the way to the next.  The programs are built around success stories – precedents can be replicated and/or adapted in other communities.”

“Again, this series is only possible because the Partnership is the hub for a network. We align inter-regional collaboration with the work plans of the individual partners. This helps them through a peer-based sharing and learning process. Everyone benefits, underscoring why the Partnership is successful when we help our partners be successful.”

The Partnership’s Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next

Celebration of Our Story is structured in two part parts. Part One is high-level. It sketches an outline of many ideas and nuances about the work of The Partnership. Part Two is a deeper dive into our history,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“In Part Two, we paint a picture of the multi-decade journey. The strokes are broad-brush. There is so much more to the story, with still more to come in the years ahead. In reading Our Story, the reader will learn that the combination of a guiding philosophy, committed team members and timely actions built the foundation for The Partnership’s record of success.”

To Learn More:

To mark the 10th anniversary of incorporation as a not-for-profit society, the Partnership published Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next.

The reader will learn that the combination of a guiding philosophy, committed team members and timely actions built the foundation for The Partnership’s record of success. The Partnership’s mix of program initiatives are building blocks for reconnecting people, land and water.