BUILDING A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS FOR WATERSHED COUNCILS TO INFLUENCE LEGISLATION AND POLICYCategory: 2021, Current, Grant, Major Project, Water
The Governments of Alberta and Canada are proposing new legislation and policies that will impact environmental management well into the future. An updated Coal Development Policy, a new Trails Act, amendments to the Water Act and Water Orders, and the new Canada Water Agency are under development this year and urgently need our attention. The 11 Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils (WPACs) of Alberta are well positioned to educate stakeholders and influence government decision making, by speaking with one provincial voice and empowering their membership to support their work.
WPACs are being inundated with requests for information and analysis of current topics, like coal mining, because they are a trusted partner of Indigenous communities, municipalities, irrigation districts, agricultural producers, and many other stakeholders. Albertans are relying on WPACs for apolitical, neutral scientific information, analysis of potential watershed implications of changes to legislation and policy, and their recommendations. Their stakeholders are providing feedback to governments and are asking for WPAC insights. This project will allow WPACs to provide information, analysis, and recommendations at a provincial scale, so that their partners are equipped to participate in government consultation processes and share their views with elected decision makers.
The goal of this project is to develop and pilot a flexible process that WPACs will use to collaboratively develop and share provincial scale information and analysis for key audiences. Right now some WPACs do not have the capacity to provide information on current topics and sometimes governments will only ask some WPACs for input on provincial topics. They aim to fill these gaps, maximize efficiencies, and speak as one provincial voice by working collaboratively to collect questions from stakeholders, research scientific information, and then share this vital information to inform stakeholders across Alberta. The WPACs will use the collaborative process for the long-term, and so the benefits will last.