LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “You need a team to be effective. Land use is a local government responsibility. But we need much stronger provincial regulations and support so that regional districts are able to mandate requirements for better and more effective land use practices,” stated Lori Iannidinardo, Chair (2022) of the Cowichan Valley Regional District
NOTE TO READER:
Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart in British Columbia: The Series vision. The edition published on October 25, 2022 featured an interview with Lori Iannidinardo, outgoing Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional Board on Vancouver Island. Her key takeaway is that collaboration among all levels of government is necessary and essential to advance drinking water and watershed protection.
Revolving door describes the constant turnover in provincial staff
“You can only try to work with relationships and move things forward for so long. It is exhausting. As soon as you establish a relationship with someone in a provincial ministry, they move on. It is every year or two. Staff turnover is constant. Or they do not have staff,” stated Chair Lori Iannidinardo when she reflected on the hollowing out of the provincial civil service.
“Relationships are important. Working together is important. But it has to be both sides working together, and I do not see that. It is a constant frustration to watch and anticipate what is going to happen next, or not, when provincial ministries have jurisdiction but do not act.”
Local governments need provincial support to solve local problems
“You need a team to be effective. Land use is a local government responsibility. But we need much stronger provincial regulations and support so that regional districts are able to mandate requirements for better and more effective land use practices. That is where the importance of intergovernmental teamwork comes into play,” Lori Iannidinardo continued.
Without provincial participation, the regional team approach breaks down
“We need a provincial hammer,” emphasized Lori Iannidinardo. “But there is nobody on the ground to take responsibility and follow through to resolve issues and concerns. All the agencies have cut back staff.”
“The result is a free-for- all. Sure, we believe the Cowichan Valley Regional District is doing amazing work. But that can go down the drain when you do not have a team supporting each other.”
“When I look back and reflect on my 14 years as a regional director, I feel good in saying CVRD has come a long way as an organization that does good work. We have taken on responsibilities downloaded by the provincial government because we have a necessity to get things done.”
What is missing
“Yet downloading is especially hard on regional districts because of the demands it places on everyone to pick up the slack.”
“Land use is our primary responsibility, but we also have our fingers in many pies that are super important. What is missing is support from senior government for drinking water and watershed protection.”
“The breakdown of the team is what I have noticed over 14 years. I wish we had every level of government working on this as a team. How do we get everybody up to speed and working together when participation on committees is not a provincial priority to help local government?”
A Closing Thought
“I do give the Province credit with the new Land Water Resource Stewardship Ministry. This month, Cowichan Watershed Board Co-Chair Chief Lydia Hwitsum and I met with Minister Osborne. We had a very productive meeting and see a bright future for more attention paid to our valuable resources and opportunities for more teamwork with our newly elected CVRD Board,” concluded Lori Iannidinardo.
TO LEARN MORE:
To read the complete story published on October 25th, 2022, download a PDF copy of a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: A perspective on what provincial downloading means for local government in the Cowichan Valley.