Federal funding has been announced to help the Cowichan Watershed deal with increased winter storms and summer drought.

“With severe weather events on the rise, it is critical to invest in infrastructure that builds more resilient communities,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities.

“The Cowichan Watershed Resiliency Program will provide both water storage opportunities during the summer and flood relief during the winter to protect residents, communities, and the environment along the Cowichan River,” added McKenna. “Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The Cowichan Watershed Resiliency Program will improve watershed resilience by increasing the capacity of the watershed to buffer both drought and flooding. The project will reduce the impact of storm events and river flooding on people’s homes, sacred sites, and critical public infrastructure for Cowichan Tribes and throughout the Cowichan Valley.  In addition, it will increase water supply and storage to address ongoing drought and rehabilitate infrastructure assets.

“We need to take care of these lands and waterways to address key concerns within the river system in order for our culture, people, fisheries, and economy to be protected and thrive,” said Chief William Seymour of Cowichan Tribes. “With this funding, we will continue to work together with our neighbours for the mutual benefit of all.”

Getting to this point has been years in the making and a collaborative effort of multiple partners, including the Province of B.C., Paper Excellence, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Cowichan Watershed Board, and the community.

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The Government of Canada is investing more than $24.2-million in this project through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. Cowichan Tribes and contributing partners are investing more than $5.3-million.

“We are proud of the work our entire coalition has achieved in almost 20 years of fighting to protect the Cowichan River,” said Graham Kissack, vice president of environment, health, and safety at Paper Excellence Canada. “This decision marks a terrific opportunity to permanently benefit one of B..C’s key heritage river and the vibrant community that exists because of it.”

Header Image Credit: Province of B.C.

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