With water the theme at last week’s annual general meeting, the Prairie Improvement Network — formerly Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council — is considering helping form a water secretariat for Manitoba.
“I’m just planting a seed out there… let’s have a conversation about it and see where it goes,” said PIN executve director Ted Eastley at the close of last week’s meeting in Portage la Prairie.
A water secretariat is just one of several ideas for future projects now on the table as PIN’s job administering federal Canadian Agricultural Adapation Program (CAAP) funding nears its end, Eastley said.
Last April the federal government announced funding for all 14 rural regional adaptation councils in Canada would end, and the program would be centralized in Ottawa after March 2014.
MRAC officially changed its name to PIN last fall, but in many ways is now “returning to its roots,” as it looks for new strategic projects, Eastley said.
MRAC was created to bring Manitobans together around ideas for innovation, he said. Now they’re looking for new projects and directions to take their organization in.
“We are in the process of identifying some strategic projects that will help us put our stake in the ground,” he said.
PIN has one year left in the CAAP program and is currently accepting applications for short-term projects such as feasibility studies or short demonstration projects ending Dec. 31, 2013.
PIN chair Terry Fehr said in an interview that the network will continue to serve as a catalyst for innovation and adaptation in Manitoba.
“We see opportunities in a number of different areas. One would be in water management,” he said. The network, as a non-political organization, is in a good position to bring together the various groups in Manitoba now talking about water issues.
“There are a number of organizations talking about water management,” he said. “Quite frankly, these discussions are dispersed. There doesn’t seem to be communication among them.”
Eastley said they want Manitobans to stay “in the loop” with PIN as it moves ahead to develop and encourages people to contact and talk with PIN directors and staff.
Dustin Williams, a Souris-area farmer has joined the board this spring as a youth director.
“I got involved just out of interest for where the organization is going to go,” he said. “I wholeheartedly support innovation. I’m interested in it and I’m interested to see what ideas are coming forward.”
This group is very well known among farmers under its MRAC name, Williams said.
“I think it’s been an excellent group to have to advocate for change in Manitoba, and, on that merit, I think that PIN will have good traction going forward.”
The PIN’s website, with names and contact information is found at: http://prairienetwork.ca.