The Shawnigan Basin Society is hoping the Cowichan Valley Regional District will reinstate its $50,000 per year contribution to the society.
Speaking to the CVRD’s board last month, Bernhard Juurlink, vice president of the society, said the district conducted a successful alternative-approval process in 2013 to initiate the annual funding, but the board discontinued it in 2018.
An AAP requires that 10 per cent or more of the eligible voters in an area must sign and submit response forms in opposition to a funding request to stop it from proceeding.
“It is our opinion that if an APP resulted in the bylaw to allow the funding, then the cessation of the funding should also be through an APP process,” Juurlink said.
“We need the restoration of the funding in recognition of the fact that Electoral Area B (Shawnigan Lake) is unique with the severity of pressures on the watershed and requires more immediate specific actions than other areas. We have proven that the work initiated by us as requested by the CVRD and residents has been excellent.”
The SBS, which began in 2012, is committed to protecting and securing the long-term health and safety of the Shawnigan Lake community’s watershed and the drinking water it provides.
The society lists among its major accomplishments the completion of a foreshore inventory of Shawnigan Lake and its sub-basin areas, a drinking and watershed-protection program and the SBS examined water quality in Shawnigan Lake and Shawnigan Creek, with reports of the findings submitted to the CVRD.
Juurlink told the board that at the moment, the society is just barely holding its head above water financially and its members have to spend a lot of time fundraising instead of what the society was formed to do.
“We need funding for an office and an administrative assistant,” he said.
“The funding from the CVRD would also give us the matching money that is currently required by many funding agencies.”
Mike Wilson, the district’s director for Cobble Hill, said he’s a staunch supporter of sharing information and collaboration with the community, especially with informed residents and organizations like the SBS.
He said water issues are becoming more important as the climate crisis continues, and that it was raised in a recent staff report on water sustainability in the Cowichan region.
“The report said the CVRD should share and collaborate watershed stewardship and outreach work directly with residents to help them better understand water stewardship and how they can contribute,” Wilson said.
“This, I think, goes directly to what the SBS is requesting here, in that we collaborate with them and I’m quite in favour of it.”
Board Chair Aaron Stone thanked the society and its members for all their work over the years.
“We’ll have further conversations and deliberations through our budget process,” he said.
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