FLASHBACK TO 2013: “Collaboration among Vancouver Island local governments, and with Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities, has grown steadily since 2007. The Inter-Regional Educational Initiative provides a framework for consistent application of tools and understanding on both sides of the Georgia Basin. Everyone benefits from sharing information and experiences,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability

Note to Reader:

The Georgia Basin bioregion has long been a hot-bed of progressive ideas and provincially significant initiatives. Over the years, regional districts and municipalities have advanced watershed-based strategies and programs for “integrating rainwater management at the site level with the watershed and stream”.

In 2012, the Partnership for Water Sustainability brought together four regional districts on Vancouver Island to align their efforts and implement a ‘proof of approach’ for an Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI). These four regions represent 90% of the Vancouver Island population. Subsequently, the Partnership invited Metro Vancouver to be an IREI partner.

The early success of the initiative created opportunities for knowledge sharing and transfer on both sides of the Georgia Basin so that together everyone could go farther, more efficiently and effectively. In March 2013, the Partnership produced a “Framework Document”. This provides a consolidated source of reference material about the IREI in its first year after being launched.

This important historical resource document is structured in four parts, with each part providing increasingly more detail. 

Everyone Benefits!

“For the past decade, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has been responsible for delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan. We are integrators. We play a bridging role between the Province, local government and community,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, in 2013.

“The Partnership is the ‘implementation arm’ of the Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives. This means that we are developing ‘tools and talent’ that will enable BC communities to implement strategies and plans and achieve targets that will reduce their ‘water footprints’.”

“Collaboration is the pathway to a consistent approach to implementation and integration of water sustainability and green infrastructure policies and practices within and between regions. Yet there is no formal mechanism to enable or facilitate inter-regional collaboration. The Partnership fills this gap.”

Going Beyond the Guidebook

“At the heart of the IREI is ‘Beyond the Guidebook’, an ongoing initiative to provide local governments with the tools and understanding necessary to integrate the Site with the Watershed and the Stream. The Beyond the Guidebook initiative is building on the technical foundation created a decade ago when the Province and Environment Canada jointly released Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.”

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is the steward for the Guidebook and is leading the Beyond the Guidebook initiative. The IREI will help all local governments bridge the ‘implementation and integration’ gap. The IREI comprises these inter-connected modules: Water Balance Model Training Workshops; A Course on Watershed Blueprints; Learning Lunch Seminars and Series; Watershed Blueprint Case Profiles; and Primers in the Beyond the Guidebook Series.”

“These program modules are designed to provide a consistent framework for knowledge-sharing within a region and between regions. There is ample flexibility to adapt within the framework to incorporate local objectives, learning outcomes, and examples. To demonstrate how to make inter-regional collaboration tangible, the Partnership implemented a ‘proof of approach’ on Vancouver Island in 2012.”

Briefing Document for an Inter-Regional Education Initiative On Vancouver Island

Since 2003, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has been delivering an Outreach and Continuing Education Program (OCEP) that is outcome-oriented. The ultimate objective is framed by this policy statement in Living Water Smart:

By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits. – page 43

Founded on local government experience, OCEP is knowledge-based and connects the dots between the site, watershed and stream. OCEP is multi-layered and crosses boundaries. The desired outcome is that there will be a common understanding of core concepts; and those involved in land use and/or water use will utilize those core concepts to protect stream health and adapt to climate change. This is “mission possible”

Mission Possible

In March 2012, the Partnership prepared a Briefing Document to set the stage for launch of the IREI. This informed the decision by each of four regional districts on Vancouver Island to be IREI partners. It drills down to answer this question: “How does the initiative align with our needs and how will it help us achieve more with the same resources?”

“The focus of the Inter-Regional Education Initiative is on the ‘how-to’ details of implementation and integration, recognizing that each region has already established its ‘vision and goals’ through a community consultation process,” explained Tim Pringle, Partnership Past-President (2010-2013). “Initiative IREI objectives include:

  • advance watershed sustainability and green infrastructure practices Vancouver Island-wide;
  • link activities in and between four regions so that everyone can benefit from lessons learned;
  • enhance collaboration and increase alignment of efforts across boundaries;
  • reduce workloads through sharing and cross-fertilizing of experiences;
  • improve existing and introduce new tools so that local governments and the development community will have a common understanding of how to integrate the site with the watershed and stream; and
  • increase effectiveness of decisions about the use and conservation of land and water assets.”

“The IREI will support implementation of watershed-based processes in four regional districts, namely: Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley and Capital Region. The Comox Valley regional team approach in the north and the Bowker Creek Blueprint (Capital Region) in the south are lynchpins for this inter-regional initiative.”

“Collaboration, alignment and consistency up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island will create opportunities for everyone to be more effective; and to implement water and watershed sustainability goals in the context of existing budgets.”

To Learn More:

To read the “Framework Document” in its entirety, download a copy of Rainwater Management in a  Watershed Sustainability Context About the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative for “Integrating the Site with the Watershed and the Stream”. It is structured in four parts, with each part providing increasingly more detail as described below. Click on the image to download a PDF copy.