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 of these things and more. Rivers and streams give life to the places we call home. Groundwater fuels farm and food economies. The mighty Comox Lake and surrounding watershed sustain growing communities. People who live in the Comox Valley understand how the water is connected to all aspects of the lifestyle they value and enjoy.
So it’s not surprising that the Florence Filberg Centre was buzzing on October 10 for the community water forum Our Water Future: Local Water Governance in the Comox Valley.
“The decisions we are making, or failing to make, will have irreversible effects on future generations. If the people who live in the watershed are more involved in the decision making, we might see better outcomes.”
- Linda Safford, Comox Valley Water Coalition
A jointly organized event, the forum featured speakers from the community as well as representatives from the Comox Valley Regional District who outlined why and how the community could pursue local water decision-making. More than 150 people attended the live-streamed event, which was also covered by local media.
There are many reasons why the Comox Valley would be a logical and ideal place to establish a community governance model for water. There is great concern about growing pressures on the watershed, and the people and wildlife that rely on it. 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 (KFN), the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and members of the community, indicates a clear disconnect between the province and communities.
And yet, recent and ongoing water challenges in the region have shown that the Comox Valley community will show up and come together when the water gets rough. The Our Water Future community forum is just one recent example of this in action. The KFN and CVRD have recently announced a Mutual Benefit Agreement confirming cooperation and collaboration in the management of water resources in the region.
Speakers of event included Rosie Simms (Water Law and Policy Research Coordinator with the POLIS Project), and Kris La Rose (Manager of Liquid Waste Planning at Comox Valley Regional District). Presentations were following by an open Q&A period. The event was 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.