Government Committee Recognizes the Need to Secure Freshwater in B.C.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2020
VANCOUVER - The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services just released a report recommending that in the next Budget, the government commit to “Advance water sustainability in British Columbia by providing a dedicated, sustainable, annual funding source.”
Right now, communities are in a reactive mode, and watershed pressures, like floods, droughts, and forest fires are having serious impacts, affecting drinking water, livelihoods, food security, and the enjoyment of nature in our communities. It was recognized within the Budget 2021 Consultation Report, that this is an opportunity to build resilience in communities by investing in people, infrastructure, and the natural resources of the province while also supporting local jobs.
Canadian Freshwater Alliance’s Organizing Director Coree Tull celebrated the recommendation for a sustainable investment in British Columbia's watershed security, “Investing in our watersheds, will save us billions of dollars in the future and create more resilient communities”. “Watershed security means good jobs across BC, resilience in the face of change, reconciliation that leaves no one behind, and thriving salmon runs. Investments in watershed security will allow our communities to move forward stronger” said Tull.
The Freshwater Alliance has been working with water defenders and advocacy organizations across the province to push for this type of long-term commitment to our watersheds through a BC Watershed Security Fund.
"We greatly appreciate that the Committee has recognized this need to secure our watersheds and create the conditions to support strong and lasting indigenous co-governance partnerships by recommending a dedicated funding source for the second year in a row” said Danielle Paydli, the Freshwater Alliance's BC Organizer.
Multiple organizations presented to the Committee both in 2019 and in 2020, yet despite the evident community support for this initiative and the same recommendation by this committee in 2019, no funding was allocated in the 2020 Budget. “The Province must recognize that this is a vital concern for British Columbians - from farmers to small businesses and beyond - and make the decision to properly fund watershed security, reconciliation and economic growth." said Paydli.
The need for a BC Watershed Security Fund has been raised by the BC Assembly of First Nations, the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project and others. It has garnered support from representatives in healthcare, business, freshwater organizations, local governments and tens of thousands of British Columbians who have signed on to the CodeBlue BC campaign.
A Watershed Security Fund would not only support , but also lay the foundation for meaningful action and reconciliation.
Chief Seymour of the Cowichan Tribes emphasized the importance of this investment in water security: “We can't wait any longer. We need to work together - government to government - and with all the affected people in the community to deal with this and plan for the future.”
A long term sustainable investment in B.C. watersheds has the opportunity to truly transition our economy and our vital watersheds for future generations.
2019 position paper, A Watershed Security Fund for British Columbia: Building Resilience and Advancing Reconciliation, by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project: https://poliswaterproject.org/polis-research-publication/a-watershed-security-fund-for-british-columbia-building-resilience-and-advancing-reconciliation/
CodeBlue BC 3 Point plan to secure and sustain BC’s freshwater https://www.codebluebc.ca/the_plan
Legislative Assembly Press Release & Report - https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/41st-parliament/5th-session/fgs/MR/MR_FGS_2020-08-21_Budget2021Report_FINAL.pdf