The Town of Virden has voted in favour of joining the Assiniboine West Watershed District after provincial legislation passed in December modernized the Province of Manitoba’s natural resource conservation policy.
The Watershed District Act replaces an old “conservation” district model with one that emphasizes water safety and watershed management. The new legislation requires municipalities to establish a bylaw showing they are willing to work with their respective area’s watershed district. Councillors passed a first and second reading of a motion to do so at this week’s regular council meeting.
Chief Administration Officer Rhonda Stewart noted that the town can pull out of the organization at a later time after a question about it from Councillor Tara Cowan.
The Watershed District Act was officially enacted on Dec. 30, 2019. The law changes the provincial district system boundaries to follow regional watersheds; opens non-municipal entities to help with watershed management plan implementation; clarifies district board policies and procedures; and streamlines each district’s ability to operate.
The Town of Virden will continue to work with other area municipalities in finding doctors to fill open positions here. Councillors voted in favour of a motion from Councillor Whitney Wright to pay the $5000 fee associated with the Virden Area Doctor Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Virden will also continue to work with the Hudson Bay Route Association (HBRA) after agreeing to renew its membership at Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Murray Wright noted that the region’s agriculture and natural resource industries benefit from a stable travel corridor to Churchill, Man. He also asked if the HBRA was discussing the potential of an oil pipeline along the route. The topic had previously been discussed in the Alberta Legislature, he said.
Councillor Wright said she was not sure if that information had been provided to the route association, but it was broached at the previous Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
“The idea is very interesting,” she said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, councillors voted unanimously to provide a $250 sponsorship to the Virden Music and Arts Festival, following their practice from previous years.