A person casts a fishing line into the water at the mouth of the Fraser River in Richmond, BC On Monday, March 6, 2023, the British Columbia government announced $100 million to help protect the watersheds of the province (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press – image credit)
The BC government has announced what it says is significant funding to help protect the province’s freshwater supply in partnership with Indigenous peoples.
On Monday, Nathan Cullen, BC’s minister of water, land and resource stewardship, said $100 million is being invested in a watershed security fund co-managed by the BC-First Nations Water Table ( BCFNWT), which includes members of the government and BC. First Nations
The money will go towards the maintenance and restoration of watersheds and wetlands.
Cullen said watersheds not only face the threat of climate change, but the competing interests of industries such as agriculture and fishing and long-term sustainable planning is critical.
“The actions we take will create safer communities,” Cullen said at a news conference.
A discussion paper published by the Ministry of the Environment in January 2022 said focus areas for the watershed security strategy could include the availability of safe drinking water, healthy ecosystems, ensuring sufficient supply of water to support food security as well as reduce hazard risks. such as floods and drought.
We want to involve the public
The event also marked the launch of public engagement in a new watershed security strategy and fund letter of intent produced by the BCFNWT.
Includes possible government priorities to protect watersheds. British Columbians can provide online feedback on the document until April 17, 2023.
This feedback will be used to develop a draft watershed safety strategy that will be recommended to the province for adoption.
Hugh Braker, chair of the First Nations Fisheries Council and BCFNWT delegate, said future conversations about competing water needs will be challenging, but he’s looking forward to it nonetheless.
He said he is happy that the government is realizing the interest, rights and knowledge that indigenous peoples bring to the issue of water protection in this province. Braker also emphasized the importance of doing good for this generation and future generations.
“Failure is not an option here,” Braker said.
The First Nations Leadership Council issued a statement saying the province’s approach to investment and collaboration is a positive first step, but also called on Ottawa to contribute as well.
“As so many First Nations face source and drinking water insecurity and continue to be disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis in the wake of fires, floods and droughts in BC, significant investments are needed in long term of the Crown at both the provincial and federal levels,” stated Don Tom, Chief Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
The council’s statement said it is imperative that the federal government at least match the investment to ensure BC’s waters are adequately protected.
According to Cullen, the provincial government plans to work with private and philanthropic donors to continue growing the watershed security fund.