by Robert Pye, Executive Director
World Rivers Day reminds the world why Canadians should be proud of our watersheds. Over 8,000 river systems define our nation as well as our small towns. The mighty MacKenzie, Yukon, St. Lawrence, Fraser, and thousands of other rivers are the precious places that Watersheds Canada wants people to think about on the fourth Sunday of September.
This year’s World Rivers Day, September 25th, flows through the midst of municipal election time in Ontario. Watersheds Canada is already working downstream to prepare voters on the important questions to ask their candidates about protecting and promoting the rivers where they live, swim, fish, boat, and enjoy nature. However, a river doesn’t stop at a township line. Headwaters bring life to millions of Canadians in hundreds of electoral ridings. With the growing threats and impacts of climate change, we cannot afford to take our rivers for granted.
Sometimes municipal decision makers and waterfront property owners are on opposite sides of the river bank, and stuck in the middle are concerns for fish and wildlife habitat and threats to shoreline erosion. We need all perspectives from all shores coming together with solutions for climate change and a future for river-based activities that provide healthy living and positive mental health. Bridging some municipal communications gaps may seem like an upstream paddle but Watersheds Canada has a positive approach to create constructive dialogue through a program called Planning for our Shorelands.
As its name suggests, Planning for our Shorelands is designed to help environmental leaders — both citizens and decision makers — set a course for healthy and progressive waterfront communities. On October 6th, Darlene Coyle of Watersheds Canada will host a shoreland lunch, so to speak, where municipal candidates, property owners, and lake lovers can “zoom-in” on free advice from our Planning for our Shorelands initiative. The webinar is only half an hour and it is going to be action packed! You can register for that event here. The webinar will also be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel.
If you cannot make it live to the Planning for our Shorelands webinar, we wish for you to make it to your local river this Sunday. While you are there, imagine yourself on the river as if there is a Google Earth cursor over your head. Now, zoom out from your riverbank waypoint to see the fullest reach of the watershed that you call home. This is the big picture view that inspires the mandate of Watersheds Canada and your webinar participation and donations support us in our journey to protect Canada’s freshwater.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”