The morning venue was the Freshwater Eco-Centre in Duncan. The afternoon venue was O.U.R. Ecovillage near Shawnigan Lake. “Given that the Cowichan River is the lifeblood of the Cowichan Valley, it was especially appropriate to host the morning session at the Freshwater Eco-Centre which serves an important outreach and educational function”, stated Kate Miller.
“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 are experiencing phenomenal growth. So we are really depending on the practitioners to keep us grounded and realistic so that growth will be sustainable,” stated Starr Winchester, Chair of the Comox-Strathcona Regional District.
“The Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation program was launched in May 2006 in the Greater Vancouver region as a provincial pilot, and was an instant success. In 2007, there will be events on Vancouver Island and in Greater Vancouver on alternating Fridays throughout September and October,” stated Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership.
The workshop was an action item arising from an earlier consultation workshop held in conjunction with the Water in the City Conference in September 2006. “If we are to control our destiny and create our future, then we need to challenge our fellow Vancouver Islanders to visualize what they want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years,” stated John Finnie.
“There are a lot of good things happening throughout Vancouver Island. It is essential that we celebrate successes so that we create momentum that is self-fulfilling in achieving water sustainability”, stated Kim Stephens
Workshop provided context for green value, designing with nature, green infrastructure and water sustainability….from the shoreline to the watershed, and from the development site to the municipality.
This story provides a ’50,000 foot view’ of some of the ‘on the ground’ initiatives taking place across Vancouver Island municipalities and Regional Districts. These examples clearly demonstrate that paying attention to water sustainability is moving into mainstream municipal/regional district thinking – and most importantly – action.
Michael McCarthy represented the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. Afterwards, he observed that: “All of us on Vancouver Island are connected by water; in my language we have a word, “hee-shook-ma-tswak,” which means we are all one.”
Green Value means thinking about and realizing land use strategies that accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which our communities depend. Understanding green value approaches means having positive options for managing growth, the design of communities, buildings and sustaining the ecology.
The consultation workshop was an opportunity to test and validate an approach that can bridge the gap between talk (interest) and action (practice)in advancing a water-centric approach to community development.