BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative

2016

A partnership between REFBC, Tides Canada and other funders, the Freshwater Legacy Initiative will help build community capacity to ensure the successful development of watershed governance institutions.

Public concern about water has risen in recent years. Droughts, flooding and competing demands for water (drinking, economic development, agriculture, hydroelectricity and sufficient flows for fish habitats) are underscoring the need to protect, conserve and manage BC’s freshwater in ways that meet both current and future needs.

Meanwhile, the current approach to water decision-making faces many challenges, including:

  • Decades of uncoordinated and short-sighted decision-making has led to negative environmental consequences, which must be addressed.
  • Despite Supreme Court rulings, First Nations have not been adequately engaged in decisions affecting water in their lands.
  • To support the long-term sustainability of ecosystems and communities, decision-making should take the needs of all users and custodians, including residents, into account.

In response to these challenges, First Nations, local governments and community organizations are taking a leadership role in advancing new solutions and approaches to watershed governance that can meaningfully integrate local knowledge with decision-making.

At the same time, the Provincial Government has introduced the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), the first major reform to BC’s water laws in over a century. Within the Water Sustainability Act are provisions that, if implemented effectively, can enable and support local watershed governance.

This is a timely window of opportunity to make a very significant contribution to water sustainability in British Columbia.

Identifying this opportunity, the Real Estate Foundation of BC has partnered with Tides Canada and other funders to create the BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative.

The key goals of the Legacy Initiative are to support both effective implementation of key governance related provisions within the WSA and to foster and build capacity at the local level to ensure the successful development of new watershed governance institutions.