Input wanted on watershed management

May 20 meeting scheduled to help set form and direction for watershed roundtable group

It’s your watershed. How do you want to see it managed?

That question is the reason for a community meeting scheduled for Ladysmith next week.

A proposal to create a watershed management roundtable designed to help give stakeholders a place to regularly meet and share watershed activity and shape watershed policy is starting to gather steam in the community.

Consider this May 20 meeting square one.

“In an analogy, the bus is just getting fueled up. The public meeting on May 20 will be the first stop for an empty bus, and then the passengers that get on will have to decide on the destination and sights to be taken in on the way,” Greg Roberts said.

A former member of the town’s now-dormant environment commission, Roberts has been attempting to better connect TimberWest, the forestry company which owns much of the land in the watershed, with a variety of groups who use those lands and depend on what it offers.

The Stz’uminus First Nation, the Town of Ladysmith, the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club, Advocates for Holland Creek, Otter Point Timber and TimberWest are just some interests he hopes will join the general public at the meeting and help shape the roundtable’s form and direction.

“This watershed effectively provides us with quality water with enough capacity to support our current needs.  But the future is not so clear,” Roberts said.

The questions that need to be addressed cover many areas: climate change; fish habitat; wildlife conservation; public access; water quality and quantity; forestry; and hydrology.

“There should be an opportunity for forest companies to communicate with the public on its plans and have discussion to ensure that forest practices protect quality and quantity of water,” Roberts said.

“The town has a responsibility to deliver quality water to our homes and business. The responsibility carries costs.”

Next week’s meeting will feature speakers from other communities sharing their experience, followed by a question-and-answer session.

“It is hoped the meeting will provide a wealth of information that can then be used to draft terms of reference and agenda for a made-in-Ladysmith approach,” Roberts said.

“These are important questions that need to be addressed; we need to put in place a new model for collaboration and communication.”

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20, 7 p.m. at Aggie Hall.