On September 17, 2020, the British Columbia provincial government committed to a $27 million investment in B.C.’s watersheds, announced as part of the B.C. Economic Recovery Plan. In the face of record low salmon runs, persistent droughts, and damaging floods, the funding is a much-needed first step towards protecting the province’s watersheds while accelerating economic recovery.
The announcement responds to a community-driven call to action that began last spring when First Nation organizations, local governments, and stewardship groups from across the province began advocating to government that investing in watershed security was both an environmental imperative and a key opportunity for job generation.
The POLIS Water Sustainability Project with Watersheds BC, alongside other members of the BC Watershed Security Coalition, supported communities in the communication and coordination of their message. For POLIS this investment will be critical: It is an important step towards the goal of watershed security, which requires a fully implemented B.C. Water Sustainability Act and a comprehensive approach to watershed governance that ensures communities are supported and have the necessary tools to protect and defend their home waters. This approach to the broader and deeper mandate of ecological governance is at the core of all the work that POLIS advances.
The stimulus funding will be delivered through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, a partnership between Watersheds BC and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia that supports B.C.’s economic recovery through investments in community-driven watershed conservation and restoration projects. The POLIS Water Sustainability Project and Watersheds BC continue to support the provincial government’s technical and eligibility review of proposed projects.
This financial commitment will improve the health of watersheds, create economic and skills development opportunities, generate new learning, and strengthen relationships with First Nations and Indigenous-led organizations in ways that support the implementation of B.C.’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Our team at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project looks forward to continuing to work with our partners to build on the success of these projects, as we continue efforts to secure a long-term funding investment and watershed governance reform to advance B.C.’s watershed security.
$27 million investment in BC watershed jobs will make our province stronger, healthier and more secure. (BC Watershed Security Coalition, Sept 2020)
COVID-19: B.C’s economic restart plan includes $27M for watershed protection. (Vancouver Sun, Sept 2020)