The province says it is on track to proclaim regulations that would transform conservation districts into watershed districts, but that didn’t stop district members from pressing for a promise.
Dori Gingera-Beauchemin, deputy minister of agriculture and resource development, held a Q-and-A with Manitoba Conservation Districts Association members during their annual conference in Winnipeg on Dec. 4.
One district member read directly from Premier Brian Pallister’s 100-Day Action Plan, reminding the minister that her department was to proclaim sections of the Sustainable Watersheds Act within 100 days.
“That’s 11 weeks ago. Seventy-seven days. I keep track of my numbers. I’m an engineer,” the member said.
The member said he’d been told to have his watershed district ready for business on New Year’s Day. Until then, they have 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.
Gingera-Beauchemin said January 1 is what they’re shooting for.
“Can you give me a date?” the member asked.
“No I can’t,” she replied.
Assistant Deputy Minister Elliot Brown told the group they’d launched and finished consultations by November 25, and are on target.
“I’m very glad you’re ready,” Brown said.
“But you aren’t,” the member replied to laughter and applause from the room.
In a presentation the same day, Andrea McLean, acting manager of watershed planning and programs, gave the group the highlights of consultation on the regulations. This included the need for more funding to bring non-member municipalities into the watershed district program.
During the Q-and-A, multiple members expressed the need to bring new municipalities into the program, and to do so quickly. Some said they had municipalities waiting in the wings to join and didn’t want them to lose interest.
Several municipalities in the proposed district of La Salle-Redboine are not in the program. Murray Seymour, who is currently a board member with Pembina Valley Conservation District, said he’s concerned the new district won’t survive without participation from those municipalities.
“They need the extra dollars and need them now, not 10 years down the road,” Seymour said.