The recent Re-Think Our Watershed Event has started a community wide discussion about the health of the Comox Lake Watershed, the drinking watershed for 45,000 residents. The event, which filled the Stan Hagen theatre, was organized to share information and address concerns following two boil water advisories, the most recent lasting an unprecedented 7 weeks.
The event focused on the future health of the Comox Lake watershed. The event included presentations and a panel discussion from some of the key stakeholders such as Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and Timber West. The audience was invited to ask questions of the panel and to express their concerns and ideas about the future health of the watershed. An overwhelming concern was expressed for protecting water quality and the health of the watershed.
The presentations, panel discussion and audience questions yielded a lively dialogue around stakeholder involvement, concerns about land ownership, logging, stakeholder inclusion, effective governance, watershed restoration and water quality management.
The majority of the audience expressed a desire for an effective governance structure with the authority to manage the watershed based on principles of eco-system science. Other themes included the need for a collaborative process, inclusion of stakeholders, local/public control of watershed lands, and addressing concerns about the impacts of timber harvesting, climate change and community education on water conservation.
The public had a chance to learn about the Comox Lake Watershed Advisory Group (WAG), an advisory committee established by the Comox Valley Regional District in 2014 to develop and oversee the implementation of a Comox Lake watershed protection plan, from WAG spokesperson Wayne White. A number of the event presenters and panelists participate in the WAG.
“It became undoubtedly clear that even though there are challenges and many different stakeholder perspectives, that collaboration and positive relationships with land owners, government and community stakeholders are critical to understanding and resolving the issues in the Comox Lake Watershed,” stated Jack Minard, panel member, representing the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy.
The event was hosted by the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy Community Partnership. Imagine Comox Valley and The Comox Valley Regional District were presenting partners.
Since the event the documentation of the participant comments were shared with the CVRD, the Comox Lake Watershed Advisory Group, and each of the panelists and presenters. A summary is available on the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy Community Partnership website http://www.cvconservationstrategy.org/cvcs-documents-maps/.
The Comox Valley Conservation Strategy will continue to work with the Comox Lake Watershed Advisory Group to advocate for a precautionary approach to managing the land and resources in the watershed to safeguard water quality and overall watershed health.
“We wish to extend a sincere thank you to all of our panelists, presenters, our moderator Meaghan Cursons, to our presenting partners, the Comox Valley Regional District and Imagine Comox Valley (Andrew Gower), and to all those who attended and participated in the discussion,” said Comox Valley Conservation Strategy event organizer Sandra Borton.
To continue the community conversation about the health of Comox Lake watershed and to learn about future events, or to check out a terrific graphic illustration of the content of the discussion from Re-Think Our Watershed, check out our Facebook page (Comox Valley Conservation Strategy). You can also follow us on Twitter (@CVConservation).