News

New model for Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program

CASTLEGAR — After extensive stakeholder and First Nations engagement during the spring and summer of 2012, followed by a thorough analysis of the shortlisted options, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) steering committee in the Columbia region is ready to roll out the new delivery model.

The model aims to strengthen the program’s regional independence and decision‐making, while retaining strong links with the program partners.

“We really tried to get the best of both worlds,” say FWCP public representatives Dave White and Rick Morley. “Stakeholders and First Nations told us they wanted more regional decision‐making, and the steering committee truly believes that the new model will achieve this while retaining close links to the partners so that the FWCP can benefit from their considerable in‐kind support, such as legal, contracting and administration services.”

The three program partners behind the FWCP in the Columbia region are BC Hydro, the Province of B.C. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

A stronger, more regionally‐focused board will replace the current steering committee structure.The same people who have been guiding this process and working towards this new model will continue on as board members and, over the course of the next 12 months, will work with the program partners towards renewing the governance documents. These documents detail a variety of operational aspects including reporting relationships, roles and responsibilities, representation on technical and steering committees, and communications.

There will also be a designated level funding for project applications from environmental groups, community organizations, stakeholders, and First Nations.

To ensure the right resources are available to deliver a wide range of conservation and enhancement projects, the FWCP will use a mix of contracts and contribution agreements – both short and long‐term. For smooth continuity of the program, the FWCP plans to enter into a long term agreement with the Province of B.C. to use a variety of resources, including contractors and staff, to deliver core FWCP projects.

This arrangement has several advantages, including being able to share knowledge and information with the Province of B.C., ease permitting, reduce overheads, and allow stakeholders and public to continue to have access to biologists.

The Compensation Program conserves and enhances fish and wildlife, and their supporting habitats, affected by the creation of BC Hydro‐owned and operated generation facilities. BC Hydro invests approximately $4.5 million in the program each year in the Columbia region. For more information visit fwcp.ca.

“I am looking forward to the new model being implemented on April 1, 2013,” said FWCP‐Columbia program manager Trevor Oussoren. “The steering committee has worked hard to get us to this point, and their efforts will be reflected in a robust, and more regionally independent, Compensation Program.”

BACKGROUND

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) is a joint partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, local governments, community organizations and environmental groups.

The Steering Committee (now the Board) for the – Columbia (FWCP) has undertaken extensive stakeholder and First Nations engagement to seek input on a new delivery model and governance structure for its conservation and enhancement work carried out in the Columbia Basin. The new model was finalized on November 1, 2012, to be implemented by April 1, 2013.

Conservation and enhancement projects have not been interrupted since the announcement BC Hydro staffing reductions in October 2011, and BC Hydro remains committed to meeting its obligations to compensation for fish and wildlife impacted by construction of BC Hydro dams in the Columbia Basin.

BC Hydro’s annual funding commitment, current $4.5 million, is a requirement of its water licence.

Following staffing reductions within BC Hydro that affected FWCP staff, work began to find a new model to continue delivering FWCP projects without having FWCP staff biologists within BC Hydro.

Through the FWCP, BC Hydro invests more than $4.5 million each year in the Columbia region in support of conservation and restoration of fish, wildlife and their habitats. BC Hydro and its partners have invested more than $67 million in 700 projects since 1995 that conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and their supporting habitats in areas affected by BC Hydro’s facilities in the Columbia region. BC Hydro is committed to continuing that investment in the environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) has confirmed its $4.5 million budget and key projects for 2012‐2013 in the Columbia Region. Funds are provided through BC Hydro, and managed in a partnership with the Province of British Columbia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, and public representatives.

Priority local conservation and restoration projects include:

  • nutrient restoration in Arrow Lakes Reservoir and Kootenay Lake;
  • maintenance and monitoring of the Hill Creek and Meadow Creek spawning channels;
  • contributions to the Upper Columbia White Sturgeon culture Program;
  • ecosystem enhancement Programs for wildlife in the East and West Kootenay;
  • funding to acquire and ongoing management of conservation lands; and
  • large mammal monitoring (elk, moose), and support for caribou recovery.

The new delivery model for FWCP‐Columbia will create greater consistency while recognizing unique objectives in each of three regions that the program operates: the Columbia, Coastal and Peace. The new model for the Columbia region was developed by the FWCP‐Columbia Board with membership from the public, First Nations and FWCP partner agencies, including input from local stakeholders.

The 10‐person FWCP‐Columbia Board currently includes five representatives from the program partners, two First Nations, and three public representatives.

The Program was initiated in 1988 in the province to support projects that conserve and enhance fish and wildlife and their supporting habitats in areas affected by the creation of BC Hydro‐owned and operated generation facilities. FWCP now operates across the province, with regional chapters in the Coastal, Columbia and Peace regions.

Different groups can apply for funding from the Program to implement projects that support the program’s mandate.