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Comox Valley

    FLASHBACK TO 2008: At the finale seminar in the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series, participants explored a regional team approach in the context of a joint study by the Town of Comox and City of Courtenay to determine the source of flooding problems and identify drainage improvements in the inter-municipal Brooklyn Creek


    “Flooding was caused by undersized culverts and poor grading. Traditional engineering solutions would have resulted in a linear total loss of habitat, would have significantly impacted on private property, and the costs were well beyond the the financial capacity of the Town. Instead, a course of action involving a suite of solutions was chosen. First and most important was a commitment by all jurisdictions to hold the line,” stated Glenn Westendorp.

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    FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Home Depot in the City of Courtenay established a BC precedent when it implemented a deep deep-well system for injecting rainwater runoff and recharging the underlying groundwater aquifer,” stated the City’s Kevin Lagan when he shared the story with a provincial audience at the ‘From Rain to Resource Workshop’ hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board


    “In 2003, the Home Depot development application in the City of Courtenay was to build a store and parking lot covering 90% of a four hectare second growth coniferous forest property,” stated Kevin Lagan. “The City required that post-development rainwater and stormwater flows leaving the site were equal to or less than the pre-development flows. For this property that was effectively zero.” Kevin Lagan described how the developer met this requirement of replacing a forest with impervious areas, and that the solution was successful.

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    COMOX VALLEY CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP: “One common forum to promote and advocate for innovative local government policies, strategies and initiatives that support transformative change towards environmental sustainability,” wrote David Stapley and Tim Ennis (Announcement #2 in November 2019 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


    “The Comox Valley conservation and stewardship (ENGO) sector operates in a space outside of government and industry that is firmly rooted in the social fabric of the community and is deeply connected to the land and waters of the Comox Valley through ‘boots on the ground’ experience,” stated David Stapley. “The Comox Valley experience highlights a coordinated approach by the ENGO sector under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (CVCP) that brings together over 20 local ENGO and ratepayers associations into one common forum.”

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    ORIGINAL VISION FOR 3RD ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: Scheduled for April, the 2-day “Comox Valley 2020 Symposium on Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” as originally planned was the outcome of collaboration involving three non-government organizations that share a vision for reconnecting hydrology and ecology – the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT), the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, and the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. (HISTORICAL NOTE: Initially postponed to October due to the COVID 19 pandemic, a public health order limiting mass gatherings resulted in the symposium being re-imagined as the virtual Video Trilogy Series for delivery via YouTube)


    “The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend Comox Valley 2020,” urges John Finnie, Past-Chair, Vancouver Island Symposia Series on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate. “The series is a building blocks process: Nanaimo in 2018; Parksville in 2019; and next, the Comox Valley in 2020. Each event builds on the last and points the way to the next.”

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    DOWNLOAD THE PRE-PANDEMIC PROGRAM BROCHURE for “Comox Valley 2020: Third Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate –– Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration” (HISTORICAL NOTE: originally scheduled for April, the 2-day symposium was initially postponed to October due to the COVID 19 pandemic, before being re-imagined as the virtual Video Trilogy Series for delivery via YouTube)


    “In October 2020, the third in the series will further open eyes and minds as to ‘what can be’ – because the Comox Valley has emerged as an incubator region for provincially significant precedents. Collaboration, across sectors and among rightsholders and stakeholders, is essential in order for communities to: mobilize and respond effectively to the present climate emergency; reconnect hydrology and ecology; and demonstrate that restorative land development is attainable,” states Kim Stephens.

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    THIRD ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON WATER STEWARDSHIP IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: An inter-regional perspective on why the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is viewed as an incubator region in British Columbia for collaboration precedents (Announcement #1in November 2019 for the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium – which was postponed and then reimagined due to COVID 19 pandemic)


    “Our model as a conservation partnership is very unique in British Columbia,” states Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership. “There are at least six other conservation partnerships, but to the best of my knowledge we are the only one that focuses on local government. The Comox Valley Conservation Partnership brings together 23 different local groups and associations in one common forum to work proactively with local governments.”

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    REGIONAL TEAM APPROACH IS FOUNDED ON PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION: “The Comox Valley regional team was ahead of the curve when, in 2011, we turned our minds to tackling the challenge of articulating a regional response to infrastructure liability,” stated Derek Richmond in his 2017 presentation to the Comox Valley Regional Board, and honouring the contribution of CAO Debra Oakman


    Debra Oakman served as Chief Administrative Officer of the Comox Valley Regional District from 2008 until mid-2017. Her early and strong support for demonstrating the benefits of the ‘regional team approach’ in the Comox Valley was instrumental in helping to lay the foundation for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Comprising 5 regions within the Georgia Basin, the IREI is a unique mechanism for sharing and learning among local governments; and for building understanding to implement a whole-system approach to land development.

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    FLASHBACK TO 2017: Climate Change, Nature’s Services & Thinking Like a Watershed—the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium was an energizing moment; ripple effects included being the catalyst for an inter-regional conversation that resulted in the launch of the “Vancouver Island Symposia Series: Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate” in 2018


    “The stewardship and conservation sector has traditionally focused on habitat restoration and protection of lands with high ecological values. With cumulative impacts from climate change, urban and resource development escalating, these groups have now become community leaders in educating and supporting improved land use practices,” stated David Stapley. “The Eco-Assets Symposium promoted measures that capture the value of ecological assets to address infrastructure and climate change issues by integrating them into land use planning and practice.”

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    FLASHBACK TO 2015: “A Guide to Water-Wise Land Development in the Comox Valley” – Joint Staff Training Workshop organized by the Comox Valley Regional Team initiated an educational process for communicating ‘design with nature’ expectations in urban watersheds


    “The Water-Wise Guide is in essence both a call to action (for the community, but also for us) as well as a road map for that action,” said Nancy Gothard. “So, our goal was to begin to brand the story and to make it visible in the various regulatory agencies in the Valley. To depict visually that we were developing a consistency in expectations in how development would address environmental concerns. Having it available on every front counter and every website is a first step.”

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    FLASHBACK TO 2014: “We cannot look at individual municipal services in isolation. Asset management is about a much bigger Umvelt,” stated David Allen, City of Courtenay CAO, when the Comox Valley Regional Team hosted the 4th in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Collaboration Workshop Series


    David Allen introduced the audience to the Umvelt concept, which is the German word for ‘environment’ or ‘surroundings’. “Although the surrounding environment is common to all, each organism experiences the environment in a different way. Applied to asset management, this means that the Umvelt is larger in scope than the triple bottom line. Asset management is a ‘systems thinking’ method applied to organization-wide problem solving ,” stated David Allen.

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