Eco-assets are natural assets such as lakes, rivers, wetlands, aquifers, mountains, forests, riparian areas, estuaries and salt marshes. These natural features have considerable economic value to the communities where they exist, because they provide ecological “goods and services” in the form of water purification, storm water management, food production and recreation. Incorporating these assets into municipal service delivery systems in conjunction with human-built infrastructure – roads, water distribution, liquid waste management and stormwater/drainage infrastructure– contributes to a healthy, desirable, and resilient community.
In March 2016, the CVCP and CVLT worked in partnership with Project Watershed, to host the first of its kind Eco-Asset Symposium. Over 350 people attended this public forum which was followed by a day of technical workshops that explored the many aspects of eco-assets and how to incorporate them into local government planning. The Symposium attracted a diverse group of people from all across the province that included First Nations, local, provincial and federal government representatives, engineering firms, industrial corporations, members of the general public, stewardship groups, and local business owners. The symposium was fully supported by K’omoks First Nation and all local municipal governments – Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland and the Comox Valley Regional District – both in principle and financially.
In order to protect watershed health, human development and engineered infrastructure must accommodate the existing adjacent natural systems – not the other way around. The Symposium brought to light the importance of engagement of local groups to implement eco asset projects in their own watersheds. Examples of local projects now underway include:
The CVCP works to support these local groups to encourage municipal and regional government to take an eco-asset approach in future community plans and projects.