NEWS RELEASE: March 6, 2023
BC Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship
VICTORIA – Government and the B.C.-First Nations Water Table announced an unprecedented $100-million investment in healthy watersheds and the launch of engagement on a new co-developed watershed security strategy intentions paper to help ensure safe, clean water is available to communities throughout B.C. for generations.
This $100-million investment in the Watershed Security Fund builds on last year’s $30-million commitment announced in Budget 2022, and will continue to improve B.C.’s watersheds and build on the success of a previous $27-million investment in the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) under the StrongerBC economic plan.
Convened in June 2022, the B.C.-First Nations Water Table (BCFNWT) is made up of representatives from the Province and delegates from First Nations in B.C. This announcement formalizes the BCFNWT’s role co-managing the Watershed Security Fund and further co-development of B.C.’s watershed security strategy.
“B.C.’s watersheds are the lifeblood of this province, and for too long, not enough has been done to protect them,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “This $100-million investment and our ongoing work with First Nations on co-developing a watershed security strategy will inspire philanthropists and other partners to help grow the fund and ensure we have healthy ecosystems and communities today and for our children’s children.”
The watershed security strategy intentions paper reflects input received from British Columbians during public engagement in 2022 about development of B.C.’s watershed security strategy. The intentions paper outlines potential priority strategies for government, including examples of actions government could take to improve watershed health, such as strengthening existing water data and the tools used to monitor demand and supply, and enhancing local watershed governance.
“Watersheds in B.C. are facing challenges that will require new management approaches to help ensure they remain healthy and sustainable for future generations,” said Fin Donnelly, Parliamentary Secretary for Watershed Restoration. “Co-developing a path forward with the B.C.-First Nations Water Table will help us achieve the consensus needed to implement a watershed security strategy that works for all British Columbians.”
Healthy watersheds are at the forefront of climate resiliency and are foundational to all social, environmental and economic systems. The Province is committed to protecting water and watersheds. British Columbians are invited to have their say during the public engagement period on the strategies in the intentions paper.
Chief Lydia Hwitsum, Cowichan Tribes, and co-chair of the B.C.-First Nations Water Table –
“Co-developing the watershed security strategy and fund with First Nations, supported by the First Nations Fisheries Council of BC, signals an important shift. This brings the opportunity for watershed governance that values, honours and upholds the natural world we all mutually rely on.”
Hugh Braker, K.C., First Nations Summit political executive, and B.C.-First Nations Water Table delegate –
“As watersheds in B.C. come under increasing pressures due to climate change, collaboration with First Nations is essential. A commitment to co-develop the watershed security strategy and fund ensures First Nations in B.C. have a meaningful place at the table and exemplifies efforts to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“Our water is a precious and limited resource. Healthy watersheds are critical for ensuring the long-term health and well-being of communities across the province in the face of extreme weather events related to climate change and other cumulative factors. We’ve begun making significant and long-needed investments in the health and restoration of B.C.’s watersheds and wetlands in partnership with First Nations and local communities across the province. This $100-million investment for the watershed security fund builds on that work and demonstrates our support for implementing B.C.’s first watershed security strategy.”
To learn about B.C. watershed security and read the intentions paper about the watershed security strategy: https://www.gov.bc.ca/water