Update on PWPA initial meeting with the Ministry of Water Lands Resource Stewardship (WLRS)

July 2023 in Vicotria BC

Since its inception in 2016, the PWPA has consistently reached out to all three levels of government in our continual pursuit of or mandate: the preservation and protection of all watersheds in our community, with a goal of providing a consistent quantity, quality and timing of flow of water for all species. In our dedication to ecosystem research, watershed watch and sharing this knowledge with the public, we have encouraged local provincial and federal governments to adapt site sensitive, ecologically based forestry practices in the public forests located in Peachland’s watersheds.

This political outreach is often unanswered, however, in a letter of congratulation to newly elected premier, David Eby, the PWPA was buoyed to receive a reply and invitation to speak with the newly formed WLRS Ministry.  After much back and forth, between the Premier, Minister Nathan Cullen, his Assistant Deputy Minister and the ADM’s assistant, it was decided PWPA send a delegation to Victoria to meet in person with WLRS staff, Julia Berardinucci, MSc., and her team of policy analysts.

Julia is Director, Water Resources Stewardship for the Water Protection and Sustainability Branch of the Water, Fisheries and Coastal Policy and Planning Division of the newly formed B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.  She recently transferred from a similar position with the Ministry of the Environment.

While this was a live meeting, we were surprised to be joined by Ministry of Forests, Tony Zanotto via zoom and also had last minute regrets from our local District Manager of the Natural resource Operations department Okanagan Shuswap, Ray Crampton.

Somehow a congratulatory note to the Premier, turned into a community watershed water meet and greet with the new WLRS ministry staff then turned into a status quo discussion on continued forestry practices in our Peachland watershed.  It was surprising to see the forestry ministry personal at this watershed meeting, after years of trying to debate multi-use watershed issues with that ministry we have had very limited success in in-person negotiations, yet they turn up at our WLRS introductory meeting.

Regardless of this surprise, we held a long informative discussion, Julia Berardinucci was an excellent chair, facilitated the meeting deftly, she appeared genuinely interested in our concerns, empathetic to community watershed multi-use issues and was very knowledgeable overall.

If you wish to read more, find the links to the 3 documents PWPA presented to the WLRS ministry here:

  1. A letter of introduction
  2. Briefing Notes including topics for discussion and PWPA’s three asks
  3. The updated version of PWPA recent Budget Consultation submission for a Sustainability Plan recommendation for the Watershed Security Strategy and Watershed Fund

What we discussed-

What we heard-

Change is slow in government. PWPA was cautioned to be patient; even though the government of BC was able to shut down an entire province in a matter of days for COVID, and rebuild the Coquihalla in a matter of months post Nov 2021 floods, we were told protecting community water will take some time.

While Minister Nathan Cullen’s WLRS mandate letter states community watershed protections, we were told very clearly that this will only happen under the continued practices of status quo clear cut logging operations.   This ___ was not made clear in the December 7, 2022, Letter from Premier David Eby to Minister Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship…

As you continue to make progress on items in the February 2022 mandate letter, over the remaining period of this mandate I expect you to prioritize making progress on the following:

  • Lead cross-government work to improve timing and transparency of permitting processes to support sustainable economic development, housing and infrastructure while maintaining high levels of environmental protection.
  • Continue to transform the management and stewardship of our waters, lands and resources, together with First Nations, and work toward modern land use plans and permitting processes rooted in science and Indigenous knowledge that consider new and cumulative impacts to the land base.
  • Lead B.C.’s work on water, watersheds, and our coast, including work to:
    • Co-develop, complete, and launch the Watershed Security Strategy and Fund … the Coastal Marine Strategy, and continue implementation of the Wild Salmon Strategy; and
    • Develop and deliver a long-term vision for the Clean Coast, Clean Waters program.
  • Protect wildlife and species at risk, and work collaboratively with First Nations, other ministries, and the federal government to protect and enhance B.C.’s biodiversity through implementing recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review, and the Together for Wildlife Strategy.
  • With support from the Ministers of Forests and Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, develop a new conservation financing mechanism to support protection of biodiverse areas.

Here are the Mandate Letter highlights given to Minister Bruce Ralston, as you will read, it will be difficult for the WLRS industry to move forward to protect ANY watershed, never mind the Peachland watershed if the Forest and Range Practices Act is still in place, and the MoF can override the WLRS at every turn:

  • Continue work to update and modernize forest policy and legislation to ensure a competitive, sustainable future for communities, Indigenous Peoples, workers, and companies.
  • Accelerate the transition of our forestry sector from high-volume to high value production, with fewer raw log exports, more innovative wood products manufactured locally, and support to mills to transition to second and third growth trees.
  • Explore options for enhancing BC Timber Sales to support high value production, dedicating a specific portion of the annual allowable cut to producers creating new jobs for workers in B.C.
  • Accelerate work to re-engineer cut block boundaries to maximize old growth protection and ensure supply of timber and fibre for manufacturing and value-added processing.
  • To advance reconciliation and meet our government’s obligations under Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), continue to work toward full partnership with First Nations in managing B.C. Forest resources, including through the new revenue sharing model being developed by our government

. • With support from the Minister of State for Trade, continue work to protect and create jobs by fighting for a fair deal for B.C. wood products in softwood lumber negotiations with the United States.

• With support from the Minister of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship, accelerate implementation of the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review and actions to protect important old growth forests, and complete the old growth strategic action plan in 2023  AND  With support from the Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, work together with First Nations to complete work to improve the protection and stewardship of forest resources, habitats, biodiversity, and cultural heritage in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

We are PPA are not holding our breath, only 4 months left in 2023 or an Old Growth Action Plan, the NDP originally announced deferrals over 3 years ago and the only watershed identified for improved protection is one that is already protected, the Great Bear Rain Forest.

This is the most obvious problem with our double ministry attendance at our meeting (AND THE PRIME DISCONNECT IN BC’S WATERSHED GOVERNANCE TODAY), how can one Ministry be in charge of protecting forested watersheds and providing clean water while the prime mission of the other is the complete removal of all native merchantable trees and forests from that watersheds that supply that water?

What we asked-


Next steps- Grants

  • Letter of support
  • Inventory of roads
  • Identify roads to rehabilitate
  • Pause letter reply
  • Cumulative Effects report
  • Round table review (started