On January 25th, the B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced the province’s first Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, with an opportunity for public feedback on its development.
The provincial government’s Watershed Security Strategy and Fund Discussion Paper outlines various opportunities and outcomes, as well as strategic themes for safeguarding B.C.’s watersheds. As described in the discussion paper, the Strategy could facilitate a number of outcomes, including creating a Watershed Security Fund; supporting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; supporting and enabling watershed governance; and achieving healthy waters for everyone.
“The Province is committed to developing and implementing a Watershed Security Strategy and Fund with Indigenous peoples, and in collaboration with local and federal governments. We will also hear from the public, environmental non-governmental organizations, opinion leaders and industrial water users, all of whom have varied and unique contributions to make on the path to watershed security.” —provincial discussion paper, p. 8
On January 28th, the POLIS Water Sustainability Project released the guidance document Making a Collective Splash: Context and Guidance for Watershed Security Strategy Submissions to Government.
“We developed this document to support anyone wanting to provide feedback on the Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, from water champions and community leaders, to other levels of government and organizations,” said Rosie Simms, research lead at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “We are encouraging broad submission, and hope this will help inform submissions to the provincial government.”
“We fully support the provincial government to advance watershed security and the urgent need for a watershed security fund,” said Oliver Brandes, co-director of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. “We’ve all learned that the climate crisis is a water crisis. Our best hedge against these challenges is to ensure the security of our watersheds and improve our capacity to manage water sustainably.”
The POLIS resource and guidance document offers a summary of the provincial discussion paper, provides initial analysis, and outlines key messages to consider in submissions. It is organized so that groups and water leaders can easily access content and adapt the material to enhance their own understanding and inform their submissions as part of the public engagement process.
The public is invited to provide feedback via the Engage BC website. This can be done through an online questionnaire or via written submission. The deadline is March 18, 2022 at 4 p.m. PT.
The provincial government will also be directly engaging with key stakeholders and partners, as well as local and federal governments.
The feedback will inform a draft Watershed Security Strategy to be released in the coming year. There will be further opportunity for public input following its release, and the provincial government expects to release the final Strategy in 2023.