Background

 
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The Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable was formed in February 2011 following a multi-phased history that began in late 2007 under the umbrella of the Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy:

  • Phase I (2007-2008) – Year 1, which reviewed existing information produced a story of the past, present and future of the Coquitlam River Watershed.
  • Phase II (2008-2009) – Year 2, which included Feb and March 2009 public meeting and workshops to develop a common vision and values for the watershed and draft a mission and guiding principles.
  • Phase III (2009-2010) – Year 3, which included a conference in October 2009 and workshops in February 2011 and March 2011 to review and select a governance framework for the watershed.
  • Phase IV (2010-2011) - Year 4, which involved gathering support and launching the Roundtable and a supporting body called the Core Committee.

Since February 2011, the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable has been moving forward as an operational body that coordinates and implements activities to promote the long term health and sustainability of the watershed based on the agreed-to values and vision of the watershed.

Phase I (2007-2008) – Year 1 – Background Research & Storytelling

The City of Coquitlam and Kwikwetlem First Nation, in collaboration with a Project Team including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Watershed Watch Salmon Society; and, support of the City’s Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee, coordinated the Phase I background research component of a proposed multi- phased Watershed Management Plan Initiative. Minimal engagement of the community occurred during this initial phase of work.

The scope of Phase I included:

  1. Developing an accountability framework looking at the many jurisdictions and the various legislation and mandates;
  2. Researching and summarizing the many documents relevant to overall health of the river;
  3. Identifying watershed interests; building an understanding of their interests/perspectives;
  4. Developing a draft communication tool template using an internet hub to enable the many stakeholders to contribute to a dialogue on the river; and,
  5. The results from the review of relevant documents and stakeholders perspectives highlight a number of considerations for the future of the Coquitlam River;

As the primary outcome of Phase I, a final report was prepared by JR Environmental, with input from the Project Team. The report, “The Story of the Coquitlam River Watershed – Past, Present and Future” was received and ratified by Coquitlam Council on October 27, 2008. This project was funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and with in-kind support provided by the City of Coquitlam, Kwikwetlem First Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Phase II (2008-2009) – Year 2 – Community Engagement and Visioning

The purpose of Phase II in developing a Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy was to bring stakeholders together to engage in a series of community workshops to establish a Common Vision, while developing guiding principles to gain broad support for decision making. Many of these stakeholders are governed by various federal and provincial legislations and authorities, often with conflicting objectives and mandates.

The project objectives undertaken during Phase II were to:

  1. Work with consultants and the Project Team including City of Coquitlam staff, the Kwikwetlem First Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Watershed Watch Salmon Society and the Coquitlam River Watershed Society to plan a community engagement strategy;
  2. Plan, oversee and work with consultants who will engage stakeholders in a series of workshops to establish a common vision for this urban river;
  3. Develop guiding principles to gain broad support for decision making;
  4. Develop options for a governance framework for how the many stakeholders can work together to support the common vision;
  5. Based on the vision established, develop goals and objectives for improving watershed health;
  6. Work with the community and the consultant, build upon and develop the web-based communication hub drafted during Phase I; and,
  7. Achieve consensus to move forward to Phase III, Governance and Strategy Development Phase.

Through the Phase II initiative, Coquitlam Watershed Coordinator and Workshop Facilitator were retained to assist the Project Team host two public meetings in February and March 2009.  A series of presentations were given at these workshops, including the story of the watershed: past, present and future, the story of the river, salmon and people, watershed planning in other jurisdictions, potential governance options, and watershed mission statements and guiding principle examples. The Phase II project work concluded early April 2009 and a summary report, “Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy Community Engagement & Visioning Phase II” was completed in June 2009. 

The funding partners for the Phase II project included: Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Fraser Salmon and Watershed Program – Living Rivers Project; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and the Coquitlam River Watershed Society. In-kind support was provided by the City of Coquitlam, Kwikwetlem First Nation, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Coquitlam River Watershed Society and the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee.

Phase III (2009-2010) – Year 3 - Developing of a Governance Framework

The purpose of Phase III was to develop a watershed governance framework and to reach agreement on terms of reference for the preferred governance model.

The scope of Phase III included the following objectives:

  1. Review the results and findings of Phase II and inform, by example the principles, benefits and implications of developing a governance structure;
  2. Through public meetings and workshops and the use of a new Coquitlam River watershed web site, develop elements of a governance structure, including draft terms of reference for a new watershed body;
  3. Communicate and consult on a draft terms of reference with key watershed stakeholder to seek input and support; and,
  4. Based on stakeholder support and subject to available resources, move forward in the next steps to a Phase IV Implementation phase.

A conference to launch Phase III of the Coquitlam River Watershed (CRW) Strategy was held in Port Coquitlam on October 30th and 31st, 2009 (see conference report). The conference provided an opportunity to reflect on the work that had been accomplished to date, to learn about governance (slides) and review the effectiveness of approaches used in other watersheds, including the Cowichan Stewardship Round Table on Vancouver Island (slides, handout), the Salmon River Watershed Project in the interior (slides, handout), and the Nisqually River Council in Washington State (slides, handout).

Workshops were held in February 2010 (workshop slidesnotes) and March 2010 (workshop slides, notes) to seek agreement on a mission and values using a participant’s workbook, review a description of the watershed, discuss a draft of the terms of reference for the governance body, and view panels highlighting additional examples of watershed governance and a summary of the Coquitlam River Watershed’s assets. Through the Phase III public consultation process, input from participants was gathered and compiled by the Project Team to develop the draft governance structure for the watershed. During the March 2010 workshop, a "Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable" was proposed and supported. The purpose of the Roundtable is to create a unified body to coordinate and oversee collaborative initiatives within the watershed that align with the Common Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles that have been established by the many stakeholders in the watershed.

Following the completion of Phase III is the final report, assembled by the Phase Project Team, with input from Dovetail Consulting Group and Devon Knight Events and entitled, "Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy - Public Assemblies on Phase III - Governance Strategy Development and Direction Setting". Included as an appendix (Appendix A) to this report, is a draft document, "Strategy to Establish a Coquitlam River Watershed Governance Structure," for key stakeholder review.

The project was funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation's Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, City of Port Coquitlam, and in-kind support from the City of Coquitlam, Kwikwetlem First Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Coquitlam River Watershed Society, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, the many stakeholders and community volunteers.   

Phase IV (2010-2011) - Year 4 - Gathering Support and Launching the Roundtable

The primary objective of Phase IV was to establish the Roundtable, following guidelines set by the participants at the final community meeting in Phase III and the Terms of Reference developed during two years of work in Phase II and III.

Specific objectives of Phase IV were to:

  1. Undertake a series of informational presentations of the Roundtable concept with key stakeholders for their review and to engage their support;
  2. Incorporate feedback received to finalize a supported Terms of Reference for the Roundtable, including identification of the coordination services and support for the new Roundtable, and an approach for seeking resources for its implementation;
  3. Form an interim transition planning committee which will plan and host a first public meeting to establish the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable;
  4. Host a public meeting to establish the Roundtable;
  5. Following the formation of the Roundtable, undertake an assessment of the administrative resource requirements to support the operation of the Roundtable; and,
  6. Inform watershed stakeholders about progress through various communications tools, including public and Council updates.

During the summer and fall of 2010, presentations were made to Standing Committees and the Councils of Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam. Both Councils approved the Phase III report and were supportive of moving forward with the establishment of a Roundtable.  Other government and non-government organizations were briefed and encouraged to support the initiative through a variety of informal approaches including presentations, phone calls and emails.  During the fall, individuals representing the perspectives of sixteen diverse sectors with interests in the Coquitlam River watershed were invited to participate in transition planning meetings, which were held in November 2010 (meeting notes) and January 2011 (meeting notes). Central goals of these meetings were to solidify the membership of the Core Committee, an organizational body that would handle finances, administration and supervision of Roundtable activities, and to prepare an agenda for the first Roundtable meeting on February 19, 2011.

Phase IV of the Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy was concluded in 2011 with the inaugural meeting of the Roundtable (meeting summary) and the first meeting of the Core Committee in March 2011, which marks the initiation of the first Roundtable projects including a virtual watershed centre (meeting notes).  For the rest of the story, please visit the Roundtable and Core Committee webpages.

Phase IV was funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation's Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the City of Port Coquitlam, and BC Hydro.  In-kind support has been provided by every member and supporting organization involved in the Core Committee including the City of Coquitlam and the Kwikwetlem First Nation which were the original founding partners of this project four years ago.

 
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Our Roundtable Watershed Coordinator can be reached at coordinator@coquitlamriverwatershed.ca

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