Our Water Future: Local Water Governance in the Comox Valley

Amazing recreation, the great outdoors and locally grown food are just a few of the reasons why the Comox Valley is an awesome place to live and play.

Water is an essential component to all these things. Rivers and streams give life to the place we call home. Groundwater fuels our farm and food economy. The mighty Comox Lake and the surrounding watershed sustain the growing communities across the Valley. People here understand how water connects to all aspects of the lifestyle we value and enjoy.

The Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, October 10, 7-9 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre, Courtenay, could be the start of a conversation about watersheds and what citizens can do to help establish a model of community governance for our water. If the people who reside in a watershed are more involved in the decision making, we might enjoy better outcomes.

There are many reasons as to why the Comox Valley would be the logical and ideal place to establish such a community governance model. A multi-million dollar water treatment plant is being developed. Summer drought conditions and boil water advisories have become “the new normal”. The licensing by the province to withdraw, bottle and sell water from a local aquifer that supports families, farms and wildlife, despite opposition from the K’omoks First Nation, the CV Regional District and members of the community, indicates a clear disconnect between the province and communities.

Rosie Simms, a Water Law and Policy Research Coordinator with the Polis Project  will discuss how the 2016 Water Sustainability Act (WSA) grants local governments the authority to create Watershed Sustainability Plans, and provides opportunities to implement sustainable governance that would ideally encompass the entire Regional District.

Bruce Gibbons, founder of the Merville Water Guardians, will discuss his ongoing communications with provincial representatives about strengthening the WSA.

A member from the Cowichan Water Board will speak to how their board functions in an advisory capacity to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The event is being sponsored by Comox Valley Water Watch, Our Water BC, Watershed Sentinel, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Merville Water Guardians and the Comox Valley Council of Canadians.

We hope to hear your voice at this community water forum, October 10th, 7 pm, upstairs at Florence Filberg Centre – 411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay.

Presentations from the 2nd Sustainability Forum

The 2nd Sustainability Forum on Sept 19 continued the conversation about how we might find solutions to some of the inter-related problems we face as a society – and how we might create a more sustainable Comox Valley.

All issues covered in the Forum fall within the mandate of our local municipal councils – be it the Village of Cumberland, the Town of Comox, the City of Courtenay or the three electoral areas.

Click on the links below to access the presentations that were given at this Sustainability Forum. As a voter, you can use this information to ask pointed questions of local municipal candidates running for office this October. You can also check out the questions that have been submitted by presenters at the two forums that can be asked of candidates for local office.

If you’re a candidate, consider the thoughtful solutions that have been presented…and get in touch with the organizations/individuals for further details.

Dr Charmaine Enns has been the Comox Valley’s public health doctor for the past 15 years. She is passionate about improving the health of populations and communities. Check out her powerpoint Health Impact on the role of local governments in advancing population health.

Mary Beil is a Councillor with the City of Parksville with an interest in sustainability issues. She successfully brought forth the motion to take steps to implement a ban on single-use plastic bags at point of sale. Watch her powerpoint presentation on the plastic bag ban process .

Amber Zirnhelt is the City of Campbell River’s Long Range Planning and Sustainability Manager and helped to guide that city through the year-long process to develop a Sustainable Official Community Plan. Her overview of Campbell River’s sustainability plans and initiatives highlights climate action and adaptation initiatives, green buildings and building energy efficiency, waste reduction and urban agriculture.

Fish Farm Update – August 2018

1.BC government: Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food
On May 31, 2018, the legislative assembly tasked the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food with conducting consultations to examine the health, habitat and management of wild salmon, as well as the sustainability of the wild salmon industry in British Columbia.

BC Wild Salmon Advisory Council
On June 11, 2018, the government established the Wild Salmon Advisory Council. It is intended to bring experts together to help develop a wild salmon strategy to protect B.C. salmon. 14 members: co-chairs Doug Routley, MLA and Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The Advisory Council will develop and write an options paper on a made-in-B.C. wild salmon strategy.

The Advisory Council will be supported by the Wild Salmon Secretariat, which includes staff from the Office of the Premier and contracted support from B.C. Coastal First Nations. The Wild Salmon Secretariat’s options paper will be presented to the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food.

2.BC government: Decision to renew fish farm licenses

June 22, 2018. The BC government announced that it will give 20 fish farms 4 years to establish i) that their operations meet federal DFO standards and don’t endanger wild salmon, and ii) consent from local First Nations to operate on their territories. Until 2022 the province will renew these licenses on a month-to-month basis. This will bring the timing of provincial licensing into sinc with federal DFO licenses.

Vancouver Sun, June 27 Re: B.C. government sets 2022 deadline for coastal fish farms.
“This decision is disastrous for wild salmon and communities all along their migration routes. Wild salmon are in trouble; First Nations, the Cohen Commission, stream keepers, hatcheries, commercial and sports fishers, tourism operators and municipalities could not be clearer about this. It appears that the provincial government is prepared to gamble with the very existence of wild salmon.
This is not the time to be cautious, and this was a cautious decision. The province could have challenged the industry bias of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and used its licensing power to force it to reconsider its responsibility for wild salmon. Rather, they appear to have simply set the stage for a four-year battle that’s weighted on the industry side.
The NDP also seems prepared to take Indigenous people through a long, expensive legal process rather than act quickly on their clear lack of consent.
Alice de Wolff, Comox Valley Council of Canadians, Courtenay” Continue reading

Community Action Award 2018

Each year the Comox Valley Chapter presents the Community Action Award to a person or group in the Valley.  This year we will be presenting the award at our AGM on November 22.

We would like to receive your nomination for this award. Include a short paragraph that gives:

  • the length of time the group or individual has been active
  • the Canadian values that have been demonstrated
  • the progressive action in the community

Send your nomination by November 1 to cvcouncilofcanadians@gmail.com

Past recipients of the Community Action Award are:
2007 – Valley Greens
2008 –Citizens for Quality Health Care
2009 – Food Not Bombs
2010 – Coal Watch
2011 – Water Watch
2012 – CV Seed Savers
2013 – Dawn to Dawn
2014 – Gwyn Frayne
2015 – Walking with Our Sisters K’ómoks
2016 – Janet Fairbanks and Wayne Bradley
2017 – Project Watershed