Abstract The Comox Valley Nursing Centre was initiated as a two year demonstration project by the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia (RNABC) and funded by the Ministry of Health. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate innovative nursing practice in a primary health care context. Findings from the project were expected to inform provincial health care planning, nursing scope of practice, and health and nursing policy development. A free standing nursing center was planned and implemented through a collaborative effort by RNABC, nurses and community residents. An external team of researchers evaluated the project using a variety of methods, including participatory action research. During the project an innovative nursing practice, based on principles of collaboration, developed and has continued during the extended provincial and regional funding of the Centre. Drawing from the evaluation findings, case studies and using Henneman, Lee and Cohen's (1995) concept analysis of collaboration, this paper describes how the principles of collaboration were actualized or suppressed. The paper examines how collaboration impacted empowerment for nurses, clients and the community. Lessons learned about the reciprocal relationships between collaboration and empowerment, implications for nursing practice, and how the approach can contribute to a better understanding of the impact of collaborative practice approaches on health care delivery are discussed.