Our provincial and federal governments are about to unleash billions of dollars to get people back to work. Premier Horgan has said he wants to “build B.C. back better” and we have heard similar sentiments from Prime Minister Trudeau. These are encouraging words, but who will get this money and what projects will it be spent on? Will we see a barrage of shiny, “shovel-ready” projects, followed by several years of austerity? Or will our leaders invest in the long term security of the lands and waters that sustain us when all else fails, and jobs that support clean water and wild salmon?
We are joining First Nations, local governments, unions and a diverse range of businesses and grass-roots organizations across the province in calling for a permanent Watershed Security Fund for B.C.
Our watersheds are facing an onslaught of destructive industrial practices like fracking, mining and clearcut logging; gaps in drinking water source protection; increasing floods, droughts and fires; and more. The results are declines in drinking water quality, wild salmon and wildlife populations, and the safety of our homes.
Code Blue BC and the Watershed Security Fund
That’s where Code Blue BC comes in—a movement and a plan that we helped launch a few months ago to secure and sustain B.C.’s fresh water sources for generations to come. The Watershed Security Fund is one of its central pillars.
The fund would be used first and foremost to give local people control over local water sources. It would support First Nations and communities with the funding, training and authority to look after their water sources, and leverage the skills of traditional resource workers, creating a surge of good jobs in every corner of B.C. and securing our natural wealth for our children and grandchildren.
If our provincial and federal governments put a serious chunk of money into a long-term Watershed Security Fund, they would not only get excellent shovel-ready projects happening right now, but they would build an enduring foundation of security and prosperity for our communities and our watersheds. Imagine the possibilities: safe drinking water, green infrastructure like fish-friendly flood control, local food production, Indigenous economic development, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, watershed monitoring, re-igniting the tourism sector, and much more.
How will this fund pay for itself?
After an initial investment by the provincial and federal governments, this fund would be maintained through water licensing fees for industrial users. Our water is priceless, and most British Columbians agree it should never be sold. However, B.C.’s current system of water licences and rentals lets industry pay pennies to use our water. If we make industrial users pay the true cost of using B.C.’s water, without selling it as a commodity, we will have a self-sustaining fund that supports our watershed security and pays dividends for our communities.
We don’t have a minute to lose
Things are happening fast. Major government stimulus spending decisions will be made in the next few weeks. As we begin down the road to economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, we have an opportunity to build B.C. back better than before and a long-term investment through a B.C. Watershed Security Fund is the way to do it. If you are with us, please email John Horgan now and tell him we need to secure B.C.’s fresh water and watersheds before it’s too late.