Update on the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance’s Fall Forum

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The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance hosted our 2018 Fall Forum at the Nexsource Centre in Sylvan Lake on November 1, 2018. The theme of this year’s forum was watershed health, with a lens on the role of municipalities as key decision makers around land and water.

Building on this theme, the RDRWA brought together four experts who presented on key issues related to water and land use challenges within the Red Deer River Watershed. There was excellent turnout, with nearly 50 attendees present including many new faces.

Representatives from the Town of Sylvan Lake kicked things off by presenting about the status of current watershed initiatives in Sylvan, including their Municipal Sustainability Plan, Stormwater Management Plan and Municipal Development Plan. The Town of Sylvan Lake’s comprehensive suite of plans outline specific targets and recommendations that will assist in maintaining water quality and biodiversity, with an eye to maintaining smart growth within the popular lake community.

Rob de Pruis of the Insurance Bureau of Canada presented next, and he highlighted the changing landscape of the Canadian insurance industry in the face of extreme weather events. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has been leading efforts to map flood risks across Canada and identify options to mitigate the intensity of such events in the future. Notably, the Insurance Bureau of Canada recently published a study entitled ‘Combatting Canada’s Rising Flood Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option’ which found:

  • 7 of the 10 costliest disasters in Canada have happened in Alberta. Spending on flooding accounted for 75% of all weather-related expenditures.
  • Natural infrastructure (i.e., wetlands, riparian areas, forests) is an underutilized, yet essential, flood mitigation option.
  • The cost of doing nothing is also a liability. Municipalities have a key role to play in proactive land use planning.

Matt Dow from the Rural Municipalities Association addressed the recent changes to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (MGA), and what it means for rural municipalities. The modernized MGA mandates that municipalities with shared boundaries work together to create a joint framework to protect and manage assets (including ecological assets), however the process to develop these Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks can be confusing. Matt showcased some new tools and resources available to municipalities to help streamline the process, and to provide clarity around issues such as conservation reserves, especially as they relate to water and watersheds.

The forum ended with an interesting and spirited presentation from the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) Claude Eckert and Natalia Grebneva, who provided a detailed overview of the process that potential applicants must adhere to when applying for a water license in the province of Alberta. AER also spoke to some of the complexities involved with the use of potable water for hydraulic fracturing within the Red Deer River basin, and addressed some regulatory questions from local landowners, who voiced their concerns over proposed industry activity that would have a direct impact on their land or on the watershed.

As with all of our forums, the RDRWA’s goal is to encourage citizens to become engaged in watershed stewardship issues and activities within their local communities, and to better understand that we all have an important role to play in helping to keep our watershed healthy, dynamic and sustainable. Thank you everyone who attended and who participated in the evening’s discussions.

RDRWA was able to offer attendance of our forum at no cost to participants, thanks to our event sponsors: the Town of Sylvan Lake and the Insurance Bureau of Canada! We are grateful for your support!

                

 

Click on the links below to view the Power Point presentations made by:

Eric Boudreau and Kim Devlin, Town of Sylvan Lake

Rob de Pruis, Insurance Bureau of Canada

Matt Dow, Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA)

Claude Eckhert and Natalia Grebneva, Alberta Energy Regulator

 

 

 

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