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CAVI – Leadership in Water Sustainability

CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: The first “Meeting of the Minds” forum in 2005 was the first milestone in a process that resulted in the “CAVI, Leadership in Water Sustainability” initiative, launched exactly one year later at a consultation workshop held in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference (September 2006)


“There were a number of initiatives on Vancouver Island that were focusing upon the theme of sustainability. It was a matter of seeking out partnerships to reinforce the common theme of sustainability based upon an island wide communications information exchange network,” recalled Eric Bonham, the visionary behind Meeting of the Minds. “We did a survey. It was clear that there was widespread interest in holding a workshop that would provide an opportunity for the exchange of information, and to explore the possibility of establishing a communications network for the Vancouver Island region.”

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Brochure titled "Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Leadership in water sustainability" explains CAVI mission


CAVI is an inclusive partnership, reaching out to audiences that share a vision of achieving water sustainability on Vancouver Island. CAVI is a grassroots, collective partnership committed to achieving settlement change in balance with ecology, beginning with water-centric planning. The CAVI vision is that by 2010, Vancouver Island will be well on its way to achieving water sustainabilty.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: In May 2016, on the 10th anniversary of the first Meeting of the Minds forum that was held in Parksville, past-Chairs Derek Richmond (2011-2016) and John Finnie (2006-2011) announced that the CAVI initiative would be moving forward under a new name – “The Partnership on Vancouver Island: Leadership in Water Sustainability”


“We set a goal that Vancouver Island would be well on its way to water sustainability by 2010. For the past decade, CAVI has successfully promoted the message of water sustainability by engaging governments, developers and the community in water-centric thinking, planning and development activities. We exceeded our own expectations. Water sustainability became a common thread in discussions and decisions about land development, water use and water conservation,” stated John Finnie.

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“CAVI – Leadership in Water Sustainability” is a program initiative on Vancouver Island, delivered under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia


“We primarily work in the local government context, with a focus on community and regional planning systems, to influence uptake of strategies that will integrate decisions about use and conservation of land with water and watershed sustainability outcomes. The guiding philosophy is ‘design with nature’,” stated Tim Pringle. The Partnership brings together local governments, regulators, the stewardship community and business to address shared issues with consistent, workable solutions.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION ON FRESH WATER SUSTAINABILITY: City of Courtenay’s Derek Richmond succeeded John Finnie as CAVI Chair (October 2011)


“Back in 2008, we knew that the key to moving forward was thinking beyond our boundaries, and making a real commitment to communicate, cooperate, coordinate and collaborate. Fast forward to October 2011. Our focus is on action so that we can implement strategies and practices at a watershed scale,” stated Derek Richmond. The handing of the baton from John Finnie to Derek Richmond was done at the “CAVI Forum within the Summit” at the 2011 State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION ON FRESH WATER SUSTAINABILITY: After 5 years of providing stellar leadership, the RDN’s John Finnie stepped down as CAVI Chair in October 2011


“CAVI started on its path in 2005, with a gathering of people who recognized the importance of water sustainability in just about everything we do, whether it be do-to-day living or economic development. By 2006 that initial gathering had evolved into Convening for Acting on Vancouver Island: Leadership for Water Sustainability. CAVI envisions development carried out in a manner that harmonizes the footprint within the watershed to achieve water sustainability as an integral component of land development,” reflected John Finnie.

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CONVENING FOR ACTION ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: CAVI story captured in "Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia"


“In 2005, the Action Plan partners launched a ‘made in BC’ process known as Convening for Action. When we gather, it is for a purpose. There must be an action item or an outcome. Beyond the Guidebook 2010 is the telling of the stories of how change is being implemented on the ground by local governments and community partners.The CAVI story in particular demonstrates how the practitioner culture is changing on Vancouver Island as an outcome of collaboration, partnerships and alignment,” stated John Finnie.

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AT THE 2009 RESILIENT CITIES CONFERENCE: “To initiate change so that we do business differently means we set the vision based upon community values, support the vision with information and education, provide practical tools, seek partnerships and engage local decision makers,” stated Eric Bonham when he explained Mission Possible


“When we refer to The New Business As Usual, we mean that ‘design with nature’ will be everyday practice; and we will move to an approach that is cohesive, concerted and leads us to sustainability. We are being bold in using the mantra: What do we want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years? Rather than being guided by 3-year municipal and 4-year provincial government election cycles, we are saying….look 50 years out and backcast to determine what decisions we need to make now to create the future that we want,” stated Eric Bonham.

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FLASHBACK TO A WATERSHED MOMENT: At the 2008 Gaining Ground Summit, the CAVI program was the subject of an inter-ministerial announcement made by Dale Wall, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community Services


“We are using the slogan The New Business As Usual to convey the message that, for change to really occur, practices that until now have been viewed as the exception must become the norm moving forward. We have to build regulatory models and develop models of practice and expertise to support The New Business As Usual. Vancouver Island is the pilot region. The shared vision is to move toward water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices. This is a multi-year commitment by the funding agencies,” stated Dale Wall.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: Eric Bonham explained the CAVI mission when he co-presented the “Year One Progress Report” at Ministry of Environment Workshop (video)


The Ministry of Environment included a progress report on CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island at the Ministry’s second annual ‘water workshop’, held in Nanaimo. “We took ourselves up and down the island. We asked the same question: What will Vancouver Island look like in 50 years? There was a sense of urgency. We wanted to talk about and establish some way of collaborating on Vancouver Island. We found that the north is not talking to the south, and the east is not talking to the west. So, we said why don’t we pull these people together,” stated Eric Bonham.

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