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BC Budget Highlights Water Stewardship, Climate Change – Lake Country Calendar

The new budget tabled by the provincial government on Tuesday set an optimistic tone for future water management in the Okanagan Valley.

Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, said her first positive response was reflected on many levels: new funding for watershed management and climate change adaptation initiatives ; greater integration of First Nations in decision-making related to water and land use; and the creation of the new Cabinet Department responsible for land, water and resource stewardship.

Warwick Sears welcomed the additional funding of $30 million for watershed monitoring, restoration and planning grants, following a previous commitment of $27 million in 2020.

She said the water board applied for a grant in 2020 to work on developing a source water protection toolkit and restoration project in Penticton.

“So it’s a very big grant program that will last for another year. There’s a lot of talk in Victoria about developing a watershed safety fund, something permanent to fund these kinds of projects, and this is seen by many as a bridge to the eventual establishment of this fund.

The other aspect of funding that caught Warwick Sears’ attention in the budget details was $120 million earmarked over five years for a Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, available to municipal governments and First Nations. for flood mapping, mitigation studies and other issues related to infrastructure protection planning. .

She said the establishment of the new ministry will be welcomed as conflicting interests within the former super ministry of Forest Land Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development have rendered it ineffective.

“It was created to help resolve the conflicting mandates of forestry, water and all the other things included in this ministry, but I think it was just too cumbersome in practice. So we will see how this new ministry develops,” she said.

She noted that $83 million has also been earmarked for climate adaptation, which relates to climate monitoring networks, weather station sites and river flow analysis.

“One thing that came out of the floods last November was that the BC River Forecast Center was understaffed, so improving that resource will help everyone,” she said.

“While it’s important to have grant programs in place…we also want to make sure that our government is adequately funded so that government staff are in place to do the work they are doing. alone has the power to do so.”

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