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Comox Valley Water Stewardship Symposium

FLASHBACK TO 2011 AND THE VANCOUVER ISLAND ECONOMIC SUMMIT: “The four Comox Valley local governments and the Comox Valley Land Trust are ‘convening for action’ around a water-centric approach to land development,” stated Glen Westendorp at a pre-summit forum about the unfunded infrastructure liability as a driver for sustainable service delivery


Comox Valley local governments are aligning efforts, building leadership capacity and striving for consistency. “We have moved beyond continuing education solely for the purpose of professional development. We are exploring what implementation of regional policy means on the ground,” stated Glenn Westendorp. “All those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. The players include land use and infrastructure professionals.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2011: “The award recognizes those who are leading the way and demonstrating overall commitment to water sustainability,” stated Daisy Foster when the BC Water & Waste Association honoured the ‘Comox Valley Regional Team’ with the Leadership in Water Sustainability Award


The regional team approach is founded on partnerships and collaboration; and seeks to align actions at three scales – provincial, regional and local. The term ‘regional approach’ has been part our vocabulary for a generation or more, but it has never resonated the way ‘regional team approach’ resonated in the Comox Valley. “Leadership in water sustainability must be demonstrated in any or all of four areas that correspond to the four elements of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia,” stated Daisy Foster, (former) BCWWA Executive Director.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: Moving from boundaries to commonalities — ‘Comox Valley Developers Dialogue’initiated a conversation with the development community about collaboration, alignment and consistency to achieve truly integrated water-centric planning


“The format was excellent for ‘stirring the pot’ as it allowed for a variety of ideas, questions and comments to flow easily and freely. The non-formal setting made everyone comfortable in sharing comments, whether positive or negative. This is certainly appreciated among the building and development community,” stated Kip Keylock, representing the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It was very well noted that by simply outlining each groups’ needs could result in effectiveness and positive results… a huge step toward establishing a much needed synergy.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: The key message for the 2009 Comox Valley Seminar Series, titled “Getting Ahead of the Wave”, was about the ‘call to courage’ in order to ‘move from boundaries to commonalities’, and implement ‘design with nature’ solutions on the ground through partnerships and collaboration


“The power of the 2009 Series resulted from the fact that it was internally driven by staff. As a result, the process of organizing the series and developing the curriculum enabled people in all four local governments to work together,” stated Judith Walker, Municipal Planner with Cumberland. “The research conclusions by Tim Pringle really struck home for me, in particular his finding that proponents of major development projects are much better resourced than local government. We are always in a position of having to react.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: “It takes time for people to wrap their minds around a concept such as regional-based planning; and understand what it really means on the ground, and on a daily basis,” stated Jack Minard following release in 2008 of ‘Nature Without Borders: The Comox Valley Land Trust Regional Conservation Strategy’


“The Strategy aims to provide reliable and accessible conservation information to politicians, planners, developers, community groups and residents, and to assist in wise and informed land use decisions and conservation actions,” stated Jack Minard, (former) Executive Director of the Comox Valley Land Trust. “The desired outcome in developing the Strategy is to contribute to the quality of life of Comox Valley residents by working to protect the lands that are essential for ecosystem function, human health and well-being, economic sustainability, and civic pride.”

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CONVENING FOR ACTION IN THREE REGIONS: “Smart Planning and Living Water Smart: Approaches and Tools for Doing Business Differently in British Columbia” – hosted by three provincial ministries, the 2009 Penticton Forum showcased the work of the Comox Valley Regional Team


“The Penticton Forum supports and/or complements various provincial initiatives, notably: Living Water Smart, the Green Communities Initiative, A Guide to Green Choices and Beyond the Guidebook. Collectively, these initiatives establish expectations that, in turn, will influence the form and function of the built environment in general and green infrastructure on the ground in particular,” stated Glen Brown.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: Capacity-building program branded as the “Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series” – and implemented in the Comox and Cowichan valleys – was a demonstration application of how to build inter-departmental and inter-governmental alignment to achieve the vision for Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan


Launch of the Living Water Smart outreach program commenced with a precedent-setting approach to capacity-building in the local government sector. “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,” stated Dale Wall, former Deputy Minister (Municipal Affairs) when he announced the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Seminar Series

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FLASHBACK TO 2007: Inter-regional sharing of green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of designing with nature – Comox Valley local governments co-hosted the finale event in the inaugural “Vancouver Island Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series”, an initiative under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia


“Local government leaders are telling our staffs that we want to be a sustainable community tomorrow. We are not being so unrealistic as to ask for this yesterday,” stated former City of Courtenay Mayor Starr Winchester when she welcomed participants. “Like most other areas on Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley is at a major cross-roads as to how we will develop and still maintain the natural beauty of our community. This is a real challenge. We want to keep our rural areas rural, yet we are faced with many people coming into the valley, especially now that we have an international airport.”

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