The Partnership on Vancouver Island – Leadership in Water Sustainability (Decade #2)
Note to Reader:
In September 2006, a bold experiment was launched at the Water in the City Conference held in Victoria. Transformational in scope, and branded as CAVI-Convening for Action on Vancouver Island: Leadership in Water Sustainability, the initiative was co-funded by two provincial ministries (Environment; Community Development) and the Real Estate Foundation of BC.
Over the past decade, the CAVI model has demonstrated what can be accomplished through collaboration, partnerships, celebration and a regional team approach. The stage is now set for achieving “economy, ecology and settlement in balance”. To launch Decade #2 of the initiative, CAVI has a new name: The Partnership on Vancouver Island – Leadership in Water Sustainability.
A Vision for ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems’ on Vancouver Island: Economy, ecology and settlement in balance by Year 2065
Vancouver Island is a hot-bed of progressive ideas. Regional districts along the east coast of the island are advancing watershed-based strategies and programs. Their journeys are documented in Beyond the Guidebook 2015, released last November. Each recognizes the importance of instilling a land ethic that respects water. The outcome would be ‘economy, ecology and settlement in balance’.
CAVI is a prototype for a water-centric approach that is guided by intergenerational commitment to action. It will take time and therefore requires perseverance. Simply put, it is a long distance relay race. The Partnership mission is to inspire successive generations of champions to carry the baton. The Vancouver Island experience over the past decade has attracted international attention – for example, the CAVI prototype has been the subject of keynote addresses at forums in the United States and Australia.
The VI 2065 Vision
The first decade was the ‘proof of approach’ for a different way of doing business. In Decade #2 of a multi-decade journey, the CAVI legacy will live on through VI 2065. This is the branding acronym for the Vancouver Island 2065 initiative.
Beyond the Guidebook 2015 introduced the paradigm that watersheds are infrastructure assets. We must manage and protect them as such. By expanding understanding of and support for Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management paradigm, VI 2065 would help set a course so that Vancouver Island would achieve a water-resilient future over the next 50 years – which represents two generations (children and grand-children).
“The future of Vancouver Island calls for ‘cathedral thinking’ to create an inter-generational vision that is inspirational, pragmatic, and based on a strong foundation,” states Eric Bonham, CAVI founding member and inspirational speaker. “The VI2065 initiative envisions a Vancouver Island based on long-term sustainability and water resiliency models that involve innovative partnerships. The results guide us towards effective land and water management practices.”
Vancouver Island is a Model for Canada
Eva Kras – visionary, scholar, traveler and author of THE BLOCKAGE–Rethinking Organizational Principles for the 21st Century – provides this perspective on why ‘moving from awareness to action’ is challenging:
Strive for a Balanced Approach
“Our apparent ‘blockage’ in moving from preoccupation with short-term gratification to buy-in for a long-term vision is a consequence of society in general providing credibility predominantly for immediate, concrete results. Unfortunately, the long view of ‘what will this be like in 50 years’ and policy to support such vision is difficult to establish and even harder to defend over time when decision-makers are regularly challenged with the demands of the day.”
“Yet we need both immediate-term pragmatism and visionary dedication to sustainability if we are to preserve our capacity for positive and permanent regional vitality. Breakthroughs result when we take leaps of faith and apply our pragmatic skills to the ‘big picture’. This is why I am so impressed by the collaboration that is gathering momentum on Vancouver Island.”
“Vancouver Island has a huge possibility, and responsibility, to form a type of model that communities in Canada can look to for ideas, related especially to the concept of collaboration, even though the actual implementation will differ by region,” emphasizes Eva Kras.
Vision for Economy, Ecology and Settlement in Balance
Tim Pringle, an original CAVI funder when he was Executive Director of the Real Estate Foundation, provides this perspective on ‘water as a form-maker’:
Harmonize with Nature
“Water defines communities. Yet our communities and enterprises have an uneasy relationship with this master form-maker. Why this tension when it is in human nature to respond to the run of the land, the palette of flora, and sensations stirred by wind, water, wildlife and other whims of nature?”
“Land use and water resource practitioners are also form-makers. Their decisions, one property at a time, have consequences that ripple through time. Consequences can be either cumulative benefits or cumulative impacts. It makes sense that as form-makers, designers would want to harmonize with natural systems and the supporting landscape.”
Embrace ‘Love of Place’
“Perception makes design and harmony possible. Nature should turn humans on. The built environment only partially gives us a sense of place, nature does the rest. There is a word for our primal perception of the natural environment and the watersheds in which we live; it is topophilia – love of place,” concludes Tim Pringle.