Duncan, British Columbia, November 4, 2020—The safety and well-being of Canadians remains the Government of Canada’s top priority as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The federal government is taking decisive action to support families, businesses and communities, and continues to look ahead to see what more can be done. Investing in infrastructure to support local economies, keep people safe, and strengthen communities is a key part of these initiatives.
Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Chief William Seymour, of the Cowichan Tribes, announced funding to reduce the impact of climate change on the Cowichan Watershed’s ability to deal with increased winter storms and summer drought.
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.
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.
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.
“With severe weather events on the rise, it is critical to invest in infrastructure that builds more resilient 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. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
“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. With this funding, we will continue to work together with our neighbours for the mutual benefit of all. ”
Chief William Seymour, Cowichan Tribes
“We are proud of the work our entire coalition has achieved in almost 20 years of fighting to protect the Cowichan River. This decision marks a terrific opportunity to permanently benefit one of BC’s key heritage river and the vibrant community that exists because of it.”
Graham Kissack, VP Environment, Health and Safety, Paper Excellence Canada
- The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) is a $2-billion, 10-year program to help communities build the infrastructure they need to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes and droughts.
- To date, more than $1.8 billion has been announced through DMAF for 63 large-scale infrastructure projects that will help protect communities across the country from the threats of climate change.
- DMAF is part of the federal government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, which is providing more than $180 billion over 12 years for public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and rural and northern communities.
- To support Canadians and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new stream has been added to the over $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to help fund pandemic-resilient infrastructure. Existing program streams have also been adapted to include more eligible project categories.
- The COVID-19 Resilience Stream will help other orders of governments whose finances have been significantly impacted by the pandemic by increasing the federal cost share for public infrastructure projects.
- The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will provide up to $31 million in existing federal funding to support communities as they deploy innovative new ways to adapt spaces and services to respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.
Also see the live video broadcast of the announcement with Chief Seymour, CVRD Aaron Stone, and Minister McKenna here. https://www.facebook.com/cowichan.tribes/videos/836353537110466