Friday, 18 November 2016 08:00

WPACs meet to share information and ideas

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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Shannon Frank, executive director of the Oldman Watershed Council, had the chance to share some of their work with other  Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils at a summit held at the end of October. Shannon Frank, executive director of the Oldman Watershed Council, had the chance to share some of their work with other Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils at a summit held at the end of October. Photo contributed

The Oldman Watershed Council (OWC), busy with the local watershed is communicating with other groups and finding out what others are doing in their areas.


On Oct. 27, 28 members of the OWC were in Calgary at the 2016 Alberta Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) Summit with other watershed planning and advisory councils to see what others are doing in their watersheds.
The WPAC Summit was a showcase of the diversity of WPAC accomplishments, the WPAC Government of Alberta partnership and an opportunity for WPAC directors and staff to meet and learn from each other.
“We discussed our greatest achievements over the past year and opportunities to strengthen the WPAC — GOA (Government of Alberta) partnership. We also had two special presentations from experts,” says Shannon Frank, executive director for the OWC.
One of the presentations was about the importance of WPACs as environmental collaboration and the other was about environmental indicators reporting, which is about showing the health of watersheds.
Frank also presented on a panel about the role of WPACs in the GOA’s regional planning process and the take home message there is that they are playing a significant role in providing information and advice to GOA, getting stakeholders involved in the process and helping implement plans.
Frank adds WPAC officials would like to see more of their information and advice reflected in regional plans and will continue to advocate for this.
This summit is held every one to two years as capacity and needs allow.
OWC officials help organize and attend the summit, because it’s more important that WPAC members showcase their work to each other, to founders and to the communities.
“It is also critical that WPAC directors and staff have opportunities to learn from each other and build relationships across the province so that they are supported in their work. At every summit, I learn new things and strengthen relationships with others.
It is also vital that WPACs take stock of our partnership with GOA and have an attitude of continuous improvements so that we continue to be effective and valuable to GOA and to our communities,” adds Frank.
She says this summit is more about the individual learning each person has than at an organizational level.
One aspect that came across strongly was the importance of working with municipalities and working across borders.
“The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance showcased their successful partnerships with municipalities in completing local watershed management plans. The Milk River Watershed Council Canada showcased their transboundary State of the Watershed Report and other efforts, such as tours with their neighbours in Saskatchewan and U.S.A.,” adds Frank.
Once the OWC is doing a similar project to one that another WPAC has done, they always talk to them in more detail before they start. The summit was an opportunity to be aware of what projects are happening so OWC officials can discuss them in more detail later if needed. An example is the Battle River Watershed Alliance has completed drought management policy advice and implementation guidelines, so the OWC, or a stakeholder, working on drought planning now know where to turn for advice and guidance.

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