‘Comox Valley Learning Lunch Team’ nominated for inaugural BCWWA Leadership in Water Sustainability Award


In May 2010, the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) awarded the inaugural Leadership in Water Sustainability Award at its annual conference. The purpose of the award is to recognize those who are leading the way and demonstrating overall commitment to water sustainability in their governance, administration, operations, education, culture and outreach.

This article profiles one of the runners up, namely the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Team. The article is adapted from the nomination submitted by the BCWWA Water Sustainability Committee.


Regional Team Approach

The Comox Valley is demonstrating a ‘regional team approach’ because a convergence of interests has created an opportunity for all the players to set their sights on the common good, challenge the old barriers of jurisdictional interests, and make water sustainability real.

In 2009, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) hosted the second annual Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series. The 2009 Series was a collaboration of:

  • four local governments in the Comox Valley
  • the Comox Valley Land Trust
  • Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI)
  • Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia
  • Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia
  • Green Infrastructure Partnership
  • two provincial Ministries (Community Development; Environment)

The Comox Valley is a case study on how to meet the targets and commitments in Living Water Smart. The target that fifty percent of new municipal needs will be acquired through conservation by 2020 framed the learning outcomes for the 2009 Series. Achieving the target relies on a regional team approach.

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’ has resonated this past year in the Comox Valley.


Comox valley - the goal: an integrated watershed approach

An Integrated Watershed Approach

The Regional Growth Strategy, Regional Sustainability Strategy, Regional Water Strategy and Regional Sewer Plan provided the backdrop for the 2009 Series. The four Comox Valley local governments have defined the goal of a regional team approach to be An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement Change.

The major outcome from this initiative has been the demonstrated effectiveness of the regional team approach, a model that has broad application potential throughout Vancouver Island and beyond. It demonstrates that when the parties reach for a common vision and work through their jurisdictional differences it is possible to accomplish mutual goals and implement sustainable practices within an overriding watershed context.

Taken further, and applied throughout all the regional districts, An Integrated Watershed Approach To Settlement Change becomes a reality for the whole of Vancouver Island and provides a practical tool to address the question “What do we want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years?”
To achieve the goal, the 2009 Series crystallized tangible outcomes that the four local governments have carried forward into 2010.

To learn more about the 2009 Series, click on Case Study for Living Water Smart: Demonstrating a Regional Team Approach in the Comox Valley

Comox valley - 2009 learning lunch series - tangible outcomes

The Nominees

Kevin Lorette (Comox Valley Regional District) & Kevin Lagan (City of Courtenay) represent the organizing team for the 2009 Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series, which also includes:

  • Marc Rutten, Michael Zbarsky & Geoff Garbutt (Comox Valley Regional District)
  • Derek Richmond (City of Courtenay)
  • Glen Westendorp, Marvin Kamenz & Shelley Ashfield (Town of Comox)
  • Judy Cumberland (Village of Cumberland)
  • Jack Minard (Comox Valley Land Trust)

Comox valley - the organizing team

Posted June 2010