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The Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable
After more than a year of Working Group meetings to develop an inclusive and compatible structure, the first meeting of the Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable was held on February 12th at the Beban Park Social Centre.
On the weekend of World Rivers Day in September 2011, NALT, in partnership with VIU, hosted a Nanaimo River Stewardship Symposium. At that event, the need for a multi-stakeholder forum was identified�a vehicle to share information, opinions and strategies about long-term stewardship and protection of the watershed. More than 40 stakeholders signed up to form a Working Group, a Structure subcommittee was created, many meetings were held, and a draft document outlining Terms of Reference to guide the group was written and re-written. A name for the group was agreed upon �the Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable�and finally, on February 12th, the fledgling Roundtable met. The Terms of Reference were reviewed and affirmed by the Roundtable.
The first meeting was a solid success, based on attendance alone. 27 people attended, representing 14 stakeholders �including all levels of government, educational interests, community groups and organizations, and property-holders. One of the first tasks of the meeting was to identify other stakeholders who are not already at the Roundtable. A list of 10 other stakeholders whose voices should be present was generated. Specific mention was made to emphasize continuing efforts to welcome First Nations involvement should they wish to join the process.
Stewardship actions that are presently�or about to be�under way were discussed. Two international students at VIU, Andre Bertoncini and Haydda Chaves da Hora, described their watershed mapping and estuary water quality research projects. Representatives from the BC Ministry of the Environment and the RDN spoke to water quality monitoring that is being carried out annually throughout the RDN. NALT has taken on the task of data collection for the Nanaimo River Watershed. The RDN has also contracted a firm to produce a water budget survey, which will contain information on the aquifers and available surface and groundwater within the watershed. NALT reported on a small grant received from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and TimberWest to update information from 2002 related to salmon habitat, and to identify and prioritize effective enhancement projects. NALT also spoke to present research being done to explore potential acquisition properties within the watershed.
In discussion about the role and function of the Roundtable, many ideas and suggestions were brought forward. Among these was a need to identify and set stewardship targets, to create a vehicle to facilitate communications between Roundtable participants, to raise community awareness of the social, environmental and economic values of the watershed, and to share resources to aid the work of the Roundtable. A need for committees to work on issues related to acquisition, community awareness, and communications was identified. These committees will be developed and will report to the Roundtable at the next meeting (set for sometime in May). At that meeting, there will also be a presentation from members of the Nanaimo River Estuary Committee.
Thanks to Marjorie Stewart for her excellent facilitation of this first Roundtable meeting.
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to March 2014:
BC Ministry of the Environment