LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “It would be huge if everyone in the Comox Valley valley continues to collaborate so that we are working towards the same outcome on the ground – protection of the water balance and prevention of hydrologic impacts,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Director of Operations with the Town of Comox

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on March 7, 2023 featured the Town of Comox on Vancouver Island. Town experience illustrates what it takes to successfully move the land development industry and engineering profession in a new direction. The Town is a beacon of inspiration for water balance approach to land development.

Town of Comox is a beacon of inspiration for its water balance approach to land development

“In a 2019 presentation to Council, the Partnership formally recognized the Town of Comox as a beacon of hope for its water balance approach to land development. Now that the regulatory framework institutionalizes this approach, the Town is truly a beacon of inspiration. This is a giant step forward,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Partnership Executive Director.

“Shelley Ashfield and her colleague Marvin Kamenz are champions for a systems approach that reconnects hydrology and stream ecology. The Town’s regulatory framework makes this desired outcome possible.”

“The break from historical drainage engineering practice commenced with a Council decision in April 2012. It then took a decade to implement all the pieces of the current framework which adheres to the direction provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.”

Why Comox is a beacon of inspiration

“The outcome of a decade of hard work is that Comox has established a provincial precedent. The Town is indeed walking the talk to enforce a whole-system, water balance approach to land development in two neighbourhood planning areas known as Northeast Comox and the Anderton Corridor, respectively.”

“The Town of Comox journey demonstrates that it takes years of sustained commitment and grinding perseverance to bring about incremental changes in planning and engineering practices. There is no shortcut to ‘getting it right’.”

“The Town’s experience also demonstrates the value of staff continuity, particularly when that continuity is coupled with an underlying passion for their work, guided by the common good. Also, continuity goes to the heart of the Town’s corporate memory.”

“Another hallmark of the Comox experience is the Town’s willingness to be proactive in establishing expectations – for example, the Town undertook a training course for land development engineers to teach them hydrology fundamentals so that they would know how to design with nature.”


To read the complete story published on March 7th 2023, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Town of Comox – beacon of inspiration for water balance approach to land development.