Wa­ter white pa­per

Two-phased public con­sul­ta­tions to be­gin in the com­ing months on process to cre­ate leg­is­la­tion that se­cures the re­source for gen­er­a­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

Gov­ern­ment re­leases white pa­per on up­com­ing wa­ter act and is ask­ing for public in­put.

The leader of P.E.I.’s Green Party ap­plauds gov­ern­ment but thinks their timeline is a bit am­bi­tious.

Peter Be­van-Baker says he’s thrilled to see the province fi­nally mov­ing ahead with the process of cre­at­ing leg­is­la­tion that aims to pro­tect P.E.I.’s wa­ter sup­ply.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Robert Mitchell tabled the white pa­per in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture on Wed­nes­day. A white pa­per is a doc­u­ment which out­lines the com­po­nents of an act, serves as a re­source for Is­lan­ders and ini­ti­ates dis­cus­sion.

Public con­sul­ta­tion is ex­pected to be­gin within the next few months and gov­ern­ment says the plan is to have the ac­tual Wa­ter Act tabled by the fall of 2016.

Be­van-Baker thinks that is be­ing very am­bi­tious.

“This can­not be rushed. A Wa­ter Act is not some­thing that can be drawn up in a hurry. Bri­tish Columbia has been work­ing on their’s for over five years and it’s still not com­plete,’’ Be­vanBaker told the media fol­low­ing ques­tion pe­riod. “I’m not sure there is go­ing to be enough time to do a re­ally thor­ough job. We have to get this right the first time.’’

P.E.I. is the only province de­pen­dent en­tirely on ground­wa­ter for its drink­ing wa­ter. The planned act will pro­vide wa­ter se­cu­rity, of­fer guid­ance for gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions in­volv­ing wa­ter man­age­ment and put leg­is­la­tion in place that will al­low wa­ter chal­lenges to be ef­fec­tively ad­dressed.

Public con­sul­ta­tions led by the province’s en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sory coun­cil will be held across the province with dates, times and lo­ca­tions ad­ver­tised ion ad­vance.

Jean-Paul Arse­nault, who served as ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary to the Com­mis­sion on Land and Lo­cal Gov­er­nance, the round­table on re­source land use and stew­ard­ship and the stand­ing com­mit­tee on agri­cul­ture, forestry and en­vi­ron­ment, will serve as mod­er­a­tor.

In­for­ma­tion gath­ered from all con­sul­ta­tions will go to Mitchell’s depart­ment, be put into a draft plan and a sec­ond round of public meet­ings will take place based on that draft plan.

Richard Davies, chair­man of the ad­vi­sory coun­cil, said all top­ics in­volv­ing wa­ter will be part of the talks.

“It cov­ers the en­tire facet of all wa­ter is­sues - be they waste wa­ter is­sues, high ca­pac­ity wells, drink­ing wa­ter; we want to cover the whole gamut of is­sues sur­round­ing wa­ter,’’ Davies said, adding that con­sul­ta­tions will in­clude peer re­view sci­en­tific peo­ple, ev­ery wa­ter­shed group in the province and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials work­ing in the field.

In re­gards to the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of whether to lift the mora­to­rium on high ca­pac­ity wells, Davies said no de­ci­sion has been made but he wants to hear from the public.

“We are still de­bat­ing; we are still talk­ing; we are still try­ing to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics.’’

Mitchell said the Wa­ter Act will re­flect what Is­lan­ders want in it.

“A white pa­per is a dis­cus­sion pa­per, a doc­u­ment that gets the juices flow­ing for dis­cus­sion,’’ Mitchell said. “It’s ab­so­lutely im­por­tant that all Is­lan­ders have their say. I know a lot of peo­ple have spe­cial in­ter­est in this due to their pro­fes­sions.’’

Be­van-Baker says the act will also have to take into ac­count the dif­fer­ing needs of each of the nearly 20 wa­ter­shed groups in the province.


Richard Davies, chair­man of P.E.I.’s en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vi­sory coun­cil, says public con­sul­ta­tions will be held from tip to tip over the com­ing months on a process to cre­ate a Wa­ter Act.

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