Brandon, MB - Larry Maguire, Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris announced the Government of Canada is investing $264,440 and partnering with Ducks Unlimited Canada to restore 45 hectares of wetlands in key areas of wetland loss.
"Restoring wetlands can have a direct effect on preventing future floods," said Maguire. "While major investments have been made to build permanent dikes and improve flood protection systems in Westman, it's important we turn to preventative measures rather than reactive. Restoring wetlands will not only hold back water during floods but they will be there in times of drought."
The focus of the project is wetlands that vary from being seasonal to permanent. In many instances, the shallow seasonal wetlands are the ones most likely to have been drained and need to be restored to be fully functional. When restored they provide important ecological benefits for wildlife and vegetation. They will also store excess water during rain events thus reducing flooding downstream. Furthermore, wetlands retain nutrients and other agricultural chemicals that are then broken down or stored instead of being transported downstream.
"Restoring previously drained wetlands in Westman will go a long way to further protect communities and farms from the impacts of flooding and drought events," says Rick Andrews, manager of provincial operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada in Manitoba. "Wetlands also combat the effects of climate change and are natural solutions to our water quality issues. This new partnership will demonstrate the importance of keeping water on the land to all Manitobans."
The Government is funding this project and others like it across Canada through the National Wetland Conservation Fund, which includes $50 million for investments that support the goals of the National Conservation Plan, which was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in May 2014.
"The significance of wetlands to our ecosystems is increasingly being acknowledged by scientists and public policy experts," said Maguire. "I will continue to advocate for preventative measures to lessen the impact of floods in the Assiniboine River Basin catchment area and get results for Westman communities."
For many years, while Maguire served in the Manitoba legislature, he was the critic for Conservation and Water Stewardship. During this time, he travelled extensively across the province to meet with stakeholders and to listen to their concerns. It was in this role that he heard a loud and clear message: a long term strategy is needed to mitigate against the constant flooding problems that our region is facing year after year.
Since Maguire was elected as the Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris, he has been a strong advocate for the Assiniboine River Basin Commission and lobbied for the new National Disaster Mitigation Program. He has worked closely with community leaders and farm organizations to raise awareness of this initiative and has also announced federal funding for flood mitigation projects in the City of Brandon, Melita, Reston, Souris and the RM of Cornwallis.
Maguire concluded, "It is imperative all levels of government work together in coordinating effective watershed management. The residents of Westman communities are looking to their leaders to roll up their sleeves and get to work."
- The National Conservation Plan builds on and coordinates conservation efforts across the country with an emphasis on enabling Canadians to conserve and restore lands and waters while making it easier for citizens in cities to connect with nature.
- The Government of Canada is investing $252 million in the National Conservation Plan, which include conserving Canada's natural heritage, restoring degraded ecosystems and connecting Canadians to nature.
- Canada has approximately 1.5 million km2 of wetlands, representing about 16 percent of Canada's land mass and approximately one quarter of the world's remaining wetlands.
- More than 200 bird species and over 50 species of mammals depend on Canadian wetlands for food and habitat.
- Canadian wetlands provide enormous benefits by protecting against floods, improving water quality and water supply, controlling erosion and supporting a host of recreational activities. These benefits translate into billions of dollars in economic benefits for Canadians each year.