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Regina submits bid to bring Canada Water Agency to Queen City

Economic Development Regina formally declared the city's interest in becoming home to the new Canada Water Agency on Monday. File / Global News

A partnership between the City of Regina and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council is proposing to bring the newly established Canada Water Agency’s (CWA) head office to the Queen City.

Economic Development Regina (EDR) formally declared the city’s interest in becoming CWA’s new home on Monday.

If chosen, CWA’s annual operating budget would be about $70 million each year, and would provide up to 100 full-time jobs.

Read more: Saskatchewan municipalities to lobby province for wetland policy

It would also bring in about $48 million per year in economic activity through the housing, hospitality, good and services sectors.

“Regina is and will continue to be a leader in water stewardship. The importance of water is ingrained in who we are, our way of life, and our livelihood,” Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said.

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“Regina has the history, partnerships, commitment and unique advantages to lead this generational opportunity, and I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to the Canada Water Agency.”

The CWA will work with provinces, territories, local authorities, scientists and Indigenous communities to find ways to keep the country’s water supply safe, clean and well-managed.

Read more: Federal government invests $5.1 million in Great Lakes restoration projects

Both the city and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council believe a Regina-based CWA would provide global leadership in environmental policy and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through meaningful consultation, inclusion and engagement.

“As stewards to the land, we must recognize we are nothing without water,” File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Tribal Chief & CEO, Edmund Bellegarde said.

“Our sacred connection through water braids traditional knowledge found through the First Nations University of Canada and western science found at the University of Regina together that puts reconciliation into action, seeking lasting water solutions for all.”

“We welcome this opportunity to further the conversation on water stewardship, but also the prospect of walking the path of reconciliation through collaborative work.”

Read more: Spring runoff potential varies across Saskatchewan from well below normal to above normal

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Regina’s bid focuses on five key themes:

  • Support for the Government of Canada’s environmental, Indigenous and economic agendas.
  • A long tradition of water stewardship, from the First People on this land to the PFRA and well beyond.
  • A ground-up partnership with Indigenous peoples.
  • A robust academic foundation in water stewardship, including First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan and SaskPolytech.
  • A welcoming, supportive community.

“Our economic prosperity has always depended on water. Sectors such as agriculture and food have huge potential for Regina and well beyond – and they rely on sound water stewardship,” EDR President and CEO John Lee said.

Read more: Caution urged before heading out on ice-covered Saskatchewan water bodies

“Our collective understanding of water issues makes Regina the right choice for the CWA, and EDR is proud to bring the right people together to make our case.”

CWA will do similar work as the former Prairie Farm and Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), abandoned in 2008, in terms of water research and policy.

PFRA was created in 1935, and was considered one of the world’s best in water research and new technologies, agri-environmental issues and sustainable water development.

The Canadian government announced plans to create the CWA in December, but no launch date has been set.

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