BC's 2021 Budget: Where is the Funding?
BC announced their Budget 2021 yesterday, and specific to watershed security we’re left asking, “Where is the funding to back up the government's commitments?"
With the government’s bold commitments to secure BC's watersheds in their platform and ministerial mandate letters, we were hopeful we would see concrete commitments in Budget 2021 that allocate the resources necessary to address the increased challenges impacting our degraded watersheds. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s service plan, which sets out their priorities for the upcoming year, states one of their key strategies is to “create a Watershed Security Strategy and begin the development and approval process of an associated Watershed Security Fund to protect clean water”. We are heartened to see this in the plan but concerned about the lack of dedicated funding to accomplish this important work.
Investing in our community watersheds through a Watershed Security Fund is a tremendous opportunity to get ahead of watershed threats and create a powerful and enduring legacy for communities across B.C. We are already seeing first hand the value of the $27 million economic recovery investment through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is funding over 60 projects and employing 750 British Columbians in watersheds across the province. These projects are beginning the important work of rebuilding and restoring the freshwater sources all British Columbians depend on. We see this work as a logical stepping stone to the Watershed Security Fund which could provide more sustainable annual funding to support and accelerate reconciliation, community economic development, healthy resilient communities and restoring fish and wildlife habitat in local watersheds.
Although disappointing, Budget 2021 leaves us with a renewed commitment to our work of holding the government accountable to their mandate commitments.
Together we have work to do over the next year to ensure Watershed Security is a key priority in Budget 2022.
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