POLIS celebrates $100 million Watershed Security Fund

Milestone moment with Fund announcement and release of Watershed Security Strategy Intentions Paper

Published On: March 7th, 2023

Victoria, B.C. lək̓ʷəŋən territory: University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project joins watershed champions and groups across B.C. in celebrating yesterday’s announcement of a $100 million Watershed Security Fund and the release of the Watershed Security Strategy Intentions Paper.

Our team was honoured to witness this major milestone moment at the B.C. legislature alongside many partners and colleagues from across the watershed sector.

We commend and celebrate the leadership and commitment of the B.C.-First Nations Water Table and the provincial government to co-develop the Fund and Strategy. This work offers a significant opportunity to fundamentally change how water and watersheds are managed and governed in B.C. and could be a model for the rest of Canada and, indeed, globally. The Fund and Strategy will create enduring change and significantly advance watershed security in the province.

“Over the past years, we have supported numerous provincial-level efforts on sustainable funding and the development of a Watershed Security Fund. We applaud the creation of this Fund, which is absolutely fundamental to turning the tide on the loss of health and function in our watersheds and home waters across B.C.,” said Oliver M. Brandes, Project Lead at the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “These investments are not just good for our home waters, but create thousands of jobs and training opportunities; support food security; improve quality of life; and advance the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and reconciliation across the province.”

The Fund announcement is an important milestone in the decade-plus of efforts by many partners in the freshwater community to build sustainable funding for better watershed management and governance. We acknowledge all who have been involved in the dedicated work leading to yesterday’s announcement, including the late Al Martin (B.C. Wildlife Federation), whose early leadership and inspiration on this initiative was an important catalyzing spark.

“Having local solutions and action at the forefront is urgently needed,” said Rosie Simms, Director of Place-Based Projects at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “Today marks a critical milestone in the larger watershed security journey. The Fund and Strategy will build sustainable funding, offer tangible pathways to work together locally, and strengthen relationships between watersheds and Indigenous nations, governments, and diverse sectors. We look forward to supporting ongoing efforts to ensure the Fund generates local solutions and lasting change for watershed and community security.”

The Fund builds on the critical success of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) and Indigenous Watersheds Initiative (IWI), which were supported by provincial investments of over $50 million. These initiatives are already building the kind of bottom-up resilience communities so desperately need in the face of extreme climate events, such as fire, flood, drought, and tainted water.

Chief Lydia Hwitsum of Cowichan Tribes and co-chair of the B.C.-First Nations Water Table noted that, “Co-developing the watershed security strategy and fund with First Nations, supported by the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C., signals an important shift. This brings the opportunity for watershed governance that values, honours, and upholds the natural world we all mutually rely on.”

Yesterday’s announcement lays the foundation for further funding and offers a path that supports building healthy and resilient watersheds across B.C. based on reconciliation, respect, and locally driven solutions.


Media contacts:

Oliver M. Brandes (POLIS Water Sustainability Project) at [email protected]

Rosie Simms (POLIS Water Sustainability Project) at 778-870-1334 or [email protected]

Additional materials:

Watershed strategy co-developed with First Nations, $100 million invested (BC Gov News, Mar 6, 2023)

Watershed Security Strategy and Fund Intentions Paper (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Mar 2023)

Province invests $100 million for Watershed Security Fund and co-development of watershed security strategy (BC Watershed Security Coalition, Mar 6, 2023)

POLIS Submission Regarding Provincial Watershed Security Strategy and Fund (POLIS, Mar 18, 2022)

Making a Collective Splash: Context and Guidance for Watershed Security Strategy Submissions to Government (POLIS, Jan 28, 2022)

BC Watershed Security Fund: A Collaborative Vision (Sustainable Funding Working Group, Dec 6, 2021)

Watershed Security Agenda for British Columbia (POLIS, Nov 30, 2020)