WHEREAS the Alberta Government presently has a Wetland Restoration Program, including a Compensation Guide in place; and
WHEREAS Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is currently the only Wetland Restoration Agency in Alberta; and
WHEREAS wetland restoration compensation paid by land developers, local governments and the public may be utilized at any location within the Province; and
WHEREAS the present Wetland Restoration Program requirements are too onerous (both financially and technically) for most municipalities to become recognized Wetland Restoration Agencies;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties lobby the Provincial Government to amend the Wetland Restoration Program to enable municipalities through qualified professionals to undertake Wetland Restoration projects; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Provincial Government to amend the Wetland Restoration Program requirements to allow the funding to be utilized for wetland restoration or other municipally acceptable uses, within the municipality from which the funding is collected.
Lac Ste. Anne County approved an aggregate extraction development permit on five (5) quarter sections of land that affects Class I, II and III wetlands estimated to be an area of 5.24 hectares. A compensation ratio of 3:1 has been suggested therefore the compensation is estimated at 15.72 hectares at $16,500.00/hectare or $259,380.00 compensation.
The compensation of $259,380.00 will very likely be utilized in other areas of the Province (southerly), as prioritized by Ducks Unlimited Canada.
The aggregate ndustry within Lac Ste. Anne County is continually scrutinized by local residents and the effects of aggregate mining are borne by Lac Ste. Anne County and its residents. Residents are continually questioning why off-setting contributions of funds are not retained within Lac Ste. Anne County to assist with local projects, either directly related to wetlands, or alternatively, related environmental projects that benefit the impacted municipalities and their residents.
The current Wetland Restoration Program is being reviewed by the Province therefore the suggested amendments within this resolution may be considered within this review.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Over the past several years, multiple municipalities have approached the Government of Alberta, seeking restoration agent status. In the absence of a clearly defined certification process, the government has been unable to grant these requests.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is currently in the process of developing a new Alberta Wetland Policy. This new policy will provide a comprehensive, informed wetland management system for all areas of the province. A key operational component of the policy development process will be the establishment of a clearly defined system for the certification of wetland restoration agents operating in the province. This will include explicit guidance and criteria, relative to both the certification process and the qualifications of the applicant. The opportunity to become a restoration agent will be available to any qualified organization, including municipalities.
As part of Resolution 16-12F, the Association would like to help ensure that wetland restoration enacted under a compensation requirement remains within municipal boundaries. Municipalities wish to maintain the functions and benefits provided by wetlands within their jurisdictions, rather than have them transferred to other municipalities. The interim Wetland Policy states that wetland restoration activities associated with a compensation requirement should take place as close as possible to the area of original wetland loss.
A series of stakeholder engagement sessions were recently held on the topic of wetland mitigation under a new Alberta Wetland Policy. Participants indicated that the top priority for any wetland compensation requirement was to ensure that wetland restoration activities take place as close to the area of initial disturbance as possible.
The Government of Alberta released the Alberta Wetlands Policy in September 2013 which intends to facilitate an informed approach to wetland management. The policy also addresses wetland mitigation and identifies a three stage approach towards the achievement of wetland management goals. The government will be taking a phased approach to policy implementation in the coming years.
In April 2013, the County of Vermillion River entered a five year agreement with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development for the county to become a Wetland Restoration Agency. This gave the municipality the ability to collect compensation funds for restoration work. The municipality must use those funds to replace lost wetlands within its borders. It is unclear what, if any, amendments to the Wetland Restoration Program were required but this agreement appears to address the resolution.
The AAMDC finds this resolution to be Accepted in Principle. The AAMDC will continue to monitor the implementation of the new Alberta Wetland Policy as it aligns to this resolution, and assess the future possibilities of wetland restoration agreements with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and the AAMDC membership.