On April 10th, ten members from Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition, along side the Canadian Freshwater Alliance met with the majority of Island MLAS and Ministers in Victoria to discuss serious water challenges occurring in community watersheds across Vancouver Island. There are concerns with the logging practices that currently exist within many of the watersheds, both on private land and crown land and the need for the robust implementation of the Water Sustainability Act Regulations.
“We provided them with four concrete requests we want to see action on to protect our drinking water, along with supporting documents on how the government of B.C. can move forward.”, said June Ross, Chair of VIWWC. “The information was comprised of studies done by the Environmental Law Clinic on the Forestry Acts and the Mining Act, a report done by Bob Williams, “Restoring Forestry in B.C.” as well as hard copies of press coverage from various communities up and down the Island where problems are occurring”.
The MLAs and Ministers in attendance were receptive to our requests and committed to following up with us on next steps.”
“This is such a critical time for smart, prudent and forward-thinking management of our water supplies”, said Coree Tull, Organizing Director with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance. “Lurching from crisis to crisis lowers our resilience, and costs more in the long-run–to both the environment and our economy. We are encouraged by the meeting and look forward to seeing continued commitments from the government of B.C. on Freshwater.“
The Government was advised that Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition will reach out to the press and will be working within their local communities across the island to educate and engage citizens on the water challenges and opportunities to defend our drinking water.
“We are remaining optimistic that the government will make some headway to begin the work to protect our source drinking water areas, said Ross. Water is Life.”
The four requests put forward to government are:
- Establish the legislative and regulatory framework to empower local governance of community drinking watersheds through the full implementation of the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) and its Regulations.
- Amend the necessary forestry acts (Forest Act, Forest Planning and Practices Regulation, Forest and Range Practices Act, and Private Managed Forest
Land Act) to improve standards of practice and oversight. Forest harvesting and management standards in watersheds that supply community drinking water must be raised to ensure quality and quantity (supply) for future use, within the context of climate change.
- Establish a Community Drinking Watershed Investment Fund for the purchase of Private Managed Forest Land Act (PFL), in community drinking watersheds on Vancouver Island. In addition, preserve and protect Crown Land within existing Vancouver Island TFL’s.
- Amend the Mines Act to restrict mining activity in community drinking watersheds to ensure protection of source drinking water and the environment as the highest purpose.