Re: Province unveils 72-point action plan on water strategy

July 10, 2023

This letter to the editor was originally published in The Winnipeg Free Press on July 8, 2023.

Re: Province unveils 72-point action plan on water strategy

The Manitoba government’s action plan for water management will not secure the health of our waterways without significant revision.

This includes its failure to address a key requirement for keeping our water clean: legally protecting key waterways and the lands that surround them from harmful developments. While the 72-point action plan has many commendable strategic objectives — like protecting and restoring aquatic ecosystems — there is little in the way of actionable items to give us confidence that these ecosystems will be secure.

The document fails to mention the key need to advance Manitoba Protected Areas Initiative, which has been crawling at a slug’s pace since 2015. Only two of the dozens of candidate protected areas awaiting designation were noted in the action plan. The overwhelming evidence shows that conserving at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and water by 2030 will help secure drinking water supplies, curb biodiversity loss, tackle climate change, prevent future pandemics, and sustain low-carbon economic prosperity.

Manitoba needs to do its part, yet the province doesn’t have a plan or a target for establishing protected areas. Manitoba has protected 11 per cent of provincial lands (71,561 sq. km, up a mere one tenth of one per cent since 2015). A water management strategy worth its salt must include a strong commitment to establish protected areas.

That is why we are asking every political party — and every candidate in the October election — to stand up for water, all of nature, and a healthy future for Manitobans by committing to protect 30 per cent of Manitoba’s lands and waters by 2030.

Ron Thiessen
Executive Director
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Manitoba chapter

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