After nearly 40 years, huge changes are coming for Manitoba Conservation Districts.
Bill 7, known as the the Sustainable Watersheds Bill, recently passed and amends four pieces of legislation. One of these is the Conservation Districts Act which will create a number of changes to conservation districts around the province in 2019, including new boundaries.
Cliff Greenfield is the Manager of the Pembina Valley Conservation District says modernizing was long overdo. "The Conservation Act was done in the 70's, since then there are now 18 conservation districts across the province. It's a growing program and is a way for municipalities and people to work together on watersheds."
Greenfield notes the province is encouraging conservation districts to change their boundaries to more reflect watersheds. Names of districts will change to more accurately reflect the shift towards watershed boundaries and responsibilities around that.
With the changes in legislation, Greenfield says there is also a possibility that enforcement authority could be given to districts with provincial drains or drainage licence.
Other changes include the disband of the Conservation Districts Commission, which has not been active in recent years, the ability for watershed districts to enter agreements with non-municipal entities, and increased flexibility with district boards appoint up to two additional non-municipal members to their boards.
Moving forward, Greenfield says the PVCD will be talking to the province and its partners on this new change.
"It's a pretty traumatic change in terms of boundary and working with other partners. We think it will work but I think it will take a little time to kind of organize that and get people feeling comfortable with this new arrangement new partnerships and how we can work together on watersheds."
Greenfield notes they see this modernization as a positive change, with more possibilities of funding through the Habitat Heritage Corporation to create new relationships and partnerships in water management.