4th December 2018
EDITORS NOTE : Here is the desperately disappointing response! Our beloved province is being logged to death and our drinking water watersheds, along with the majority of life contained there are being decimated. When it is all gone...it will be too late to do anything!
Perhaps the ballot box is the only way we have to be heard???
December 3, 2018
June Ross, Chair
Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition
Dear Ms. Ross:
I am writing to follow up on the October 19, 2018 email from my office, acknowledging your email of September 27, 2018, requesting timelines for implementation of four specific initiatives related to the management of community watersheds and the protection of drinking water quality.
Thank you for proposing the initiatives in your emails of September 27, 2018, and May 8, 2018.
As indicated in my email of September 26, 2018, at this time government will not be amending the water-related provisions of legislation related to forest management or mining, nor are we currently in a position to establish any special funds to support watershed management. However, I have asked staff to consider your proposals for any future legislative and program proposals, should the opportunity become available.
With respect to priorities that relate to watershed management, I am pleased to report that government recently passed its professional reliance legislation, the Professional Governance Act. This is an important step towards improving governance of the professional associations that oversee qualified professionals, including forest professionals, engineers and geoscientists. It also includes updating the regulatory regimes that pertain to natural resource management and restoring public confidence in natural resource decision-making.
With respect to collaboration with Indigenous governments and communities, the Province currently has two initiatives with Indigenous peoples: the Collaborative Stewardship Framework (CSF) and the Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI). Both are partnerships between the Province and Indigenous governments and communities, and are focused on reconciliation and shared responsibility for environmental stewardship. These two initiatives are co-designed and co-implemented with Indigenous governments and communities. Through the CSF and the ESI, work related to aquatic ecosystems, fisheries and related natural resource values is ongoing in the Fraser Valley, the Kootenays, the Cariboo and the northwest region of the province, as well as the Nicola watershed. Over time, this work will be expanded to include additional Indigenous governments and communities—the timelines for this have not yet been determined.
Finally, implementation of the Water Sustainability Act is being undertaken in a phased approach; policy and regulatory work will unfold in the coming years. Among the broad range of work to implement the Act, staff are currently focused on bringing the 20,000 existing groundwater users into compliance with the Act and a regulation related to livestock watering, as well as policy related to planning and objectives.
With respect to a stronger role for local communities, water sustainability plans and water objectives are expected to be key mechanisms through which local stakeholders can influence water management. Further, these tools will take time and resources before they are implemented across the province. Therefore, we have no specific timeline for implementation of this and related aspects of the Water Sustainability Act, although we anticipate it will take several years at a minimum.
Staff would be more than happy to provide additional detail on these initiatives, including the timing of specific pieces. If you would like to discuss these further, please contact Jennifer Vigano, Director of Watershed Sustainability with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (Jennifer.Viganogov.bc.ca), or Ted White, Director and Comptroller of Water Rights with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (Ted.Whitegov.bc.ca).
Thank you again for sharing your concerns with me.
cc: Jennifer Vigano, Director of Watershed Sustainability, Water Protection and Sustainability Branch, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Ted White, Director and Comptroller of Water Rights, Water Management Branch, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development