Water sustainability emerged as one of the top issues for the Province of British Columbia in the unanimous report on the Budget 2020 Consultation released by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released today (August 7, 2019).
This milestone for water stewardship in B.C. is due to the hard work and dedication of a consortium of water-focused NGOs and academia led by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project.
Living Lakes Canada Program Manager Avery Deboer-Smith gave a presentation developed by the consortium to the Committee during the budget consultation period. Her presentation highlighted the need for an endowment fund for water sustainability across the province, and this suggestion is included in the report under the section for Environmental Protection and Conservation (p 27):
And the establishment of a water sustainability fund to fund watershed protection work is listed as one of the Committee’s overall recommendations to the B.C. Legislative Assembly (p 31, no. 28):
Furthermore, in the B.C. Government media release announcing the report on the Budget 2020 Consultation, advancing water sustainability is included in the quote by committee chair Bob D’Eith as a key area for action:
“The committee is grateful to everyone who took the time to share their views and bring attention to the challenges and opportunities facing the province,” said committee chair Bob D’Eith. “Several issues emerged as key areas for action, including providing comprehensive supports to youth formerly in care, and advancing water sustainability.”
“The importance of collaborative action for water sustainability in B.C. is made evident by the acknowledgement from the province of the importance of addressing the very pressing issue of protecting our most valuable resource,” said Deboer-Smith.
The committee heard 276 presentations at 15 public hearings in communities across British Columbia, and received 496 written submissions and 452 responses to an online survey which was based on questions in the Budget 2020 Consultation Paper released by the Minister of Finance on June 3, 2019.
The budget consultation is typically held every fall. This year, the consultation ran from June 3, 2019 to June 28, 2019 to enable the Committee to deliver its report earlier in the budget process.