Nechako roundtable seeking regional support

The Nechako Watershed Roundtable is looking to regional municipalities to secure sustainable funding.

Outgoing roundtable coordinator Theresa Fresco and Fraser Basin Council senior manager Terry Robert appeared before the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George board of directors on Thursday to make a case for funding the program.

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"We're looking at around $200,000 per year. Really our primary goal is to look at a 50-50 funding relationship (with) government and non-government (sources)," Robert said. "In essence the local government funding source will be the steady, reliable funding that is used to leverage funds from away."

The Nechako Watershed Roundtable was formed in October 2015 to coordinate the efforts of local governments, First Nations, non-profit groups, government agencies, researchers and other groups working on issues related to health and management of the Nechako River, Fresco said. In addition, the group acts as an information hub for studies and reports about the river system.

In 2015 the group prepared a report on the health of the Nechako watershed and in 2016 developed a watershed strategy, including 33 recommendations.

"Over the last year we've been working to advance some of those 33 recommendations," Fresco said.

However, because of a funding shortfall in 2016-17, the organization was forced to scale back its planned work, she said.

For the current year the organization is seeking $1,700 each from 12 communities in the Nechako watershed, including Prince George and Regional District of Fraser-Fort George electoral areas A and C. The City of Prince George and both regional district electoral areas have already committed to provide the funding for this year.

Mayor Lyn Hall put forward a motion for the regional district staff to work with the Nechako Watershed Council on potential sustainable funding models.

"We're a regional district. Whether you're in the (Nechako) basin or not, this is a regional issue," Hall said. "I think we need engagement with this group."

Hall's motion was supported unanimously.

"I'm generally supportive that we should look at ways to make it happen," Area C Director Lara Beckett said. There is a wealth of work that has been done up to this point, and I'd like to see it continue. There is a lot of partnerships coming out of this..."

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