MNAI September blog: update on Canada’s first watershed-scale initiative

Progress is continuing in Canada’s first watershed-scale, natural asset management project that launched earlier this year.

In March, several communities in the Comox Valley and the K’ómoks First Nation announced the $367,500 multi-year initiative with MNAI to help better measure, protect and enhance their critical drinking water supply by working with nature, especially as the climate continues to change (news release here: https://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/node/6707). This project concept is that healthy natural assets are crucial to the liveability of our communities and provide core local government services such as drinking water, but must be measured and managed properly.

The initial launch and assessment workshop was held in March (read the blog here: https://mnai.ca/canadas-first-watershed-scale-municipal-natural-asset-management-initiative-is-now-underway/). Most recently on September 9 & 10, the K’ómoks First Nation, Village of Cumberland, City of Courtenay, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Town of Comox, a wide group of stakeholders, and MNAI completed a second planning phase that included developing a framework for an inventory of natural assets that will support decision-making, discussions around communications and engagement, and planning the next few months of work.

Between the March and September in-person workshops, MNAI also organized monthly calls so all the stakeholders involved in the multi-use, multi-owner watershed can coordinate and collaborate on the technical work they need to get done. The stakeholders have now developed an initial inventory of assets and MNAI has identified a few scenarios to model based on the stakeholders’ feedback – vital information for the project’s next phase that will include developing a quantifiable and actionable business case.

MNAI has already started planning the implementation phase workshop for January 2020. All the stakeholders are looking forward to the health, social, environmental, cultural, and economic benefits that will become more and more evident over the years.

In addition to this first watershed-scale natural asset management project, MNAI has already embarked on 11 community-level natural asset management projects and is also now poised to launch a second watershed initiative in Ontario’s Greenbelt….so stay tuned for more updates to come!