Kus-kus-sum signage near 17th Street Bridge (L to R, Bill Heidrick, Erik Eriksson, Caila Holbrook, Tim Ennis, Dan Bowen, Doug Hillian). The site provides one example of local work around water stewardship. File photo, City of Courtenay

Comox Valley plans Island water symposium for April

Event will look at work being done to encourage water stewardship

Three years ago, the community held a symposium to discuss water and the environment.

With the threats to water still looming, there are plans to hold one again this spring.

Tim Ennis and Meaghan Cursons, representing the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (CVCP), spoke recently with council members in the Village of Cumberland to talk about some of the successes that came out of the event in 2017 and where communities are heading now.

“I think our symposium in 2017 was really a catalyst,” Ennis said, adding the event helped local communities spur pilot projects.

“Cumberland is actually really baked into this in some really profound ways, given the work that’s happening in this community,” Cursons added, pointing to Cumberland’s urban tree strategy as an example.

RELATED STORY: Symposium to consider eco-asset management

The CVCP consists of 25 local non-profit, ratepayer and groups in the region that advocate for environmental values. It is a project of the Comox Valley Land Trust, for which Ennis is executive director, while Cursons is executive director of the Cumberland Community Forest Society.

The upcoming symposium, Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate – Climate Change, Collaboration and Landscape Restoration, will look at community best practices around protecting water. The event takes place at the Florence Filberg Centre from April 22 to 24.

“We’re looking forward to bringing in a slate of exceptional speakers,” Ennis said.

Some of the topics for the event include regional collaboration on managing natural assets, engaging the community in climate strategies and looking at examples of resiliency in local landscapes altered by humans. Cursons said there might opportunities on the Thursday and Friday for symposium attendees to have site visits to Comox Lake, Kus-kus-um and other locations.

There will also be a general event for the public in the evening on April 22 while the main discussions for attendees will occur the following two days. In all, they expect at least 200 people to attend.

“We end up with staff and elected folks from all over the Salish Sea basin at this event,” Cursons said.

The organizers are looking for local governments to come on as sponsors but also consider ways to do public education and engagement events leading up to the event.

“We really hope that you’ll join us,” Ennis said.

The hope is to build on the success from 2017.

“There were ripples from that event that got people really intrigued about what was happening here, and wanting to have those kind of conversations in their own community,” Cursons said.

Members of council in Cumberland expressed enthusiasm for both the event three years ago and the idea of holding another one. Mayor Leslie Baird had attended all the workshops and described them as excellent.

“The people you bring in are very informative,” she added.


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