A new Watershed Security Fund Position Paper describes an opportunity for British Columbia’s provincial government to create an enduring legacy for freshwater in the province.
The paper outlines the urgent need for a dedicated Watershed Security Fund for British Columbia. It describes the rationale for such a fund and provides an overview of benefits and examples of the activities it would support. It also outlines technical details on options for Fund structure, funding mechanisms, and governance.
The position paper was developed by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, First Nations Fisheries Council, BC Wildlife Federation, and BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative.
The position paper responds to a direct recommendation in the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ Budget 2020 Consultation Report (August 2019), which recommends that the province “Advance water sustainability in British Columbia by providing a dedicated, sustainable, annual funding source for First Nations, local government, local watershed protections agencies, and community partnerships.” Building on this recommendation, the position paper was developed to support policy makers and advance the public dialogue on this important opportunity.
“First Nations, local governments, and community organizations are leading major freshwater initiatives in this province, but are stymied by a lack of resources and funding,” said Rosie Simms from the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “By creating a Watershed Security Fund, the provincial government has a critical opportunity to support watershed partnerships and initiatives that build watershed resilience and make reconciliation commitments real.”
A Watershed Security Fund would:
- Provide sustainable funding to equip communities to build resilience in the face of growing watershed threats, such as more extreme floods, droughts, and forest fires, and implications for clean drinking water, Indigenous rights, and wild salmon habitat.
- Support reconciliation with First Nations.
- Invest in partnerships with local governments, farmers, businesses, and community groups.
- Invest in smart planning and community capacity, reducing costs, and creating jobs.
- Fulfill government’s commitments to climate adaptation, reconciliation, and rural economies.
- Create a powerful legacy for B.C. through a provincial endowment supplemented by other sustainable funding sources, such as a surcharge on water rental fees.
“First Nations communities often lack the necessary financial resources to meet the demands placed upon them from Crown governments and industry, and to proactively develop and implement their own water protection plans, policies, and laws,” said Susi Porter-Bopp from the First Nations Fisheries Council. “A Watershed Security Fund would provide lasting financial support to First Nations and community partners to build and strengthen their capacity to undertake watershed stewardship, planning, and governance activities for the benefit of all British Columbians.”
A copy of the position paper is available here.