The April 11th provincial budget included a reduction of the transfer payment grant to the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) by almost 50%. The Authority received an e-mail from Monique Rolf von den Baumen, assistant deputy minister of Natural Resources and Forestry indicating that the CCCA transfer payment amount would be reduced to $41,214.60. Since 2000, the CCCA had been receiving $79,835.00 meaning the reduction is almost 50%. Proportionally, these cut-backs affect smaller Conservation Authorities like the CCCA more so than larger Conservation Authorities that have a broader municipal population. It should be noted that the original intent of the Conservation Authorities Act was a 50% cost share model for mandated programs, with the costs being shared equally between the Province and the Municipalities. As it sits now, there is a $200,000 shortfall in provincial funding to meet the Provincially mandated programs. Municipalities help make up that difference, mitigated by the Authorities self-generated revenue through trail fees, rentals, sales, and special events. This means that there is $40,000 less for the Authorities mandated requirement around Flood Forecasting and Warning, dam operations, and watershed planning. Concerns were raised that the provinces new funding model does not support the health of the overall watershed and the subsequent effects to landowners.
Following a May 2nd Board Meeting, staff advised the Board that with re-allocations of funding, flood forecasting and warning services will not be impacted this year, however these services may be impacted in the future. “It won’t be easy” said Sally Martyn, “but we are going to make this work”. Staff advised the Board that it is not the plan to pass on cuts in the form of increased levies, and that one way to deal with the shortfall is to use its already limited Reserves. “Using the Authority’s reserves is not a financially sustainable solution” said General Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Christopher Wilkinson, who discussed revising this year’s Budget to accommodate this year’s shortfall by finding some operational efficiencies and some adjustments to non-flood related service delivery. “We have an obligation to the public to make sure that we deliver on the flood warnings and to make sure we continue to advise our Municipal partners such as Emergency Services regarding flood warnings to make sure people remain safe” said Mr. Wilkinson.
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority is a community-based, non-profit, registered charitable environmental protection organization that protects, restores, and manages the natural resources within the Catfish Creek watershed. For more information on Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, please peruse our website (www.catfishcreek.ca).