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Manitoba government proclaims Watershed District Act

District members had expressed concern that act would be delayed, complicating plans

The act that reforms conservation districts along watershed lines was proclaimed Dec. 30, slightly ahead of schedule.

“This new model of improved watershed management strategies will improve the quality of our water in lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams, an important step towards mitigating climate change locally and globally,” said Blaine Pedersen, minister of Agriculture and Resource Development in a news release.

The act shifts conservation districts to watershed-based boundaries and renames them as watershed districts. The province said the act adds flexibility for local watershed districts in the areas of board appointments and terms, calculating municipal contributions, and handling board contracts and agreements related to water and soil projects.

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The act will also allow partnerships with non-municipal entities, such as First Nations.

The province was to proclaim the act as part of Premier Brian Pallister’s 100-Day Action Plan.

In early December, conservation district members expressed concerns that the province would not proclaim the act on January 1, as promised.

At a Manitoba Conservation District Association conference Q and A, a member said he’d been told to have his watershed district ready for business on New Year’s Day. Until then, they had two different districts, two sets of staff, different programs and staff.

“It’s going to be very difficult to do anything unless we get this watershed district operating,” he said.

At the time, deputy minister Dori Gingera-Beauchemin said while they were aiming for January 1, they could not promise that date.

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