To more adequately address pollution control objectives, legislation in British Columbia, Canada allows local governments to develop Liquid Waste Management Plans (LWMPs). Unfortunately, a local referendum defeat prevented the development of such a Plan for a rural area in the Comox
Valley on Vancouver Island. Unable to fund a traditional planning process, direct solutions could not be found for the larger region. Within that region the unincorporated community of Union Bay developed a community-driven, “hands-on” public process. This article describes the
molding of the “Made in Union Bay” planning process. We explore the work of a multifaceted community committee, where citizens and staff from local, provincial, and federal levels of government sit together at the table. We also describe building successful partnerships, using
bureaucracies and consultants as resources (“on tap”, not “on top”); garnering innovative funding sources; and accessing creative talents within the community. The “Made in Union Bay” LWM Plan is charting a course to use waste as a resource to create economic
wealth and social capital by using “living machines” such as constructed wetlands and/or solar greenhouses to treat wastewater. The committee is convinced that enhancing the environment and treating sewage as an asset, not a liability, will be their legacy. This case study
contributes to our understanding of the potential benefits and limitations of community-driven approaches to environmental issues.
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