YORKTON - When it comes to the management of wetlands in Saskatchewan something is missing suggested Erika Ritchie the NDP critic for Environment, SaskWater, and the Water Security Agency.
Ritchie notes Saskatchewan is the only province without a wetland conservation policy, adding the Provincial Auditor has flagged the need to develop policies around wetland retention and water quality.
So Ritchie is looking to rectify the lack of a provincial policy introducing a Private Member's Bill 615 (The Comprehensive Wetland Conservation Policy Act).
As part of Ritchie’s effort she is undertaking a series of eight Wetlands Conservation Consultation. The first in the series was in Regina, and the second held in Yorkton Wednesday with about a dozen in attendance.
What Ritchie heard was a range of concerns, from the lack of a well-understood definition of a wetland, who should be responsible for maintenance of those wetlands, and how best to ‘police’ compliance.
“It’s such a complex issue,” admitted Ritchie. “. . . Obviously this is an issue where the stakes are high, so we need to get it right.”
Certainly in Yorkton there was discussion regarding the drainage of wetlands on farm land.
In that area alone the viewpoint varies whether you are the farmer, the neighbour who might have water drained his way, or a group concerned with wildlife habitat being maintained.
“You can go down so many different avenues of draining,” said Ritchie.
While Ritchie did not suggest her proposed Act would answer every question regarding wetlands it would be a foundation from which to build.
In the process of building on any framework though, there needs to be discussion with stakeholders, who have an interest in what ultimately is created.
It’s important “to engage in a dialogue,” said Ritchie, adding that was what the meetings she is undertaking is about.