Laurie Gourlay of Cedar is the president of the  newly-formed non-profit Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society.

Laurie Gourlay of Cedar is the president of the newly-formed non-profit Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society.

New society forms to encourage partnerships and co-operation

Laurie Gourlay of Cedar is the president of the newly-formed Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society.

Working together is a theme for the newly-formed Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society (VICCS).

Representatives from Vancouver Island agriculture and non-profit societies met earlier this month in Cedar to discuss plans that would see greater co-operation and partnership for Island and conservation efforts, leading to registration of a new non-profit organization — the Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society.

“It’s time to plan as if we’re an Island,” Laurie Gourlay of Cedar, the new president of VICCS, said in a press release.

Inviting co-operation and partnership from all sectors, the meeting looked at common issues that many organizations, businesses and governments on Vancouver Island are beginning to address, according to the release. In this regard the meeting was pleased to see a representative from the ‘Vancouver Island 2065’ initiative, just announced by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, Royal Roads University and CAVI — Convening for Action.

“We talk a lot about the need for sustainable development, for sustainability and stewardship to be integrated within growth and development approvals,” said Gourlay. “But we haven’t seen the cooperation across sectors and regions that will guarantee a balance between economic and ecological goals.”

The VICCS says that with a limited amount of land and resources and water shortages every summer, Islanders are looking for successful models that might offer solutions. During the recent meeting, seasonal and ongoing problems were seen to result from a lack of co-ordination in growth and development planning across Island regions.

“I was surprised to learn how little is known about Vancouver Island and the coast’s carrying capacity,” said Gourlay. “We all thought the essentials for maintaining a good quality of life, and ecosystem health, were being integrated within government, business and bottom-line economic growth projections.”

To facilitate discussion on these important issues, VICCS has agreed to host two new initiatives — an Island Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (IRTEE), and an Island Governance Committee.

“Over the next six months, we expect to partner with all sectors and areas of the Island,” stated Gourlay.

VICCS will follow the process and mandate outlined 20 years ago by the BC Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (BCRTEE) — establishing a Roundtable of Islanders, from all walks of life, who can offer their expert and professional advice on important Island-wide issues.

VICCS will also host a committee that examines new options appropriate to governing Island needs and sustainable coastal development.

“We expect they will look at governance options such as those of the Islands Trust, as well as measures afforded by Canada’s territories,” said Gourlay. “Or more provocative proposals, such as forming a Province of Vancouver Island, could also come up for discussion.”