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NBMCA marks 50 years of watershed management

(Earth Day - April 22, 2022)  Recognition of “watershed heroes”, raising funds for a “Boardwalk of Champions”, awarding student bursaries, and a return of the Mattawa River Canoe Race are some of the initiatives the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority has planned for the celebration of its 50th anniversary this year, announced this morning on Earth Day.

On June 21, 1972, Ontario Lieutenant Governor William Ross Macdonald approved an Order-in-Council, creating the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority at the recommendation of the Minister of Natural Resources and request of local municipalities.

NBMCA's focus when it began was the protection of people and property from natural hazards and flooding, creating flood plain mapping and science-based watershed management studies for subwatersheds, advising municipalities on consents and plans of subdivision, as well as the opening of conservation areas for public appreciation, conservation and protection of natural hazard and heritage lands. 

“These initiatives formed the foundation of NBMCA's integrated watershed management efforts to balance human needs with the needs of the natural environment on a watershed basis. NBMCA has continued to do all this and more over the past 50 years,” said Dave Britton, NBMCA’s Chair.

Today NBMCA’s programs also include water quality monitoring, flood prevention and forecasting, drinking water source protection, development permitting around wetlands watercourses and steep slopes, on-site sewage system permitting, stewardship and outreach.

The Conservation Authorities Act, Ontario Building Code and Clean Water Act dictate NBMCA’s area of jurisdictions for its various programs and services.   All of NBMCA’s programs and services are delivered within Nipissing District. The on-site sewage system program also includes the District of Parry Sound, and the Drinking Water Source Protect Source Protection Plan has policies which help protect the sources of drinking water for the municipalities of Mattawa, North Bay, Callander, Powassan and South River.  In all, NBMCA delivers a variety of programs and service to residents of more than 111 municipalities, including 29 incorporated, 82 unincorporated townships, and 4 planning boards.

“Over the years, NBMCA has learned that protecting and conserving our watershed relies on collaboration and cooperation with individuals, organizations, and communities.  So we have planned a number of projects and initiatives to really celebrate and acknowledge the fact that watershed management is a community effort,” added Britton.

As part of the 50th Anniversary activities, NBMCA is inviting the community to submit names of youth, adults, educators, organizations and businesses who are taking action – big or small – to preserve, protect or improve the watershed.  These “Watershed Heroes” will be recognized on NBMCA’s website and at the end of year, five will be chosen to receive NBMCA’s 2022 Watershed Hero Award.  Names can be submitted online through NBMCA’s website.

“NBMCA's Boardwalk of Champions is an opportunity for anyone to give recognition to someone who has inspired them, someone you want to be remembered, someone who is celebrating a special milestone in their life, someone who has overcome a challenge or someone who has contributed to the well-being of others!  For a $100 donation (which supports NBMCA's scholarship and outreach programs) NBMCA will acknowledge your champion with an engraved pinecone on a trail boardwalk,” said Sue Buckle, Manager Communications and Marketing.

Other initiatives include bursaries and awards for an environment-related studies students at Nipissing University and Canadore College, as well as an environmental high skills major student at each of West Ferris, Almaguin Highlands, FJ McElligott, and Ecole Secondaire Publique Odyssee. 

NBMCA is partnering with Clean Green Beautiful which will coordinate volunteers to lead in cleanups on the Chippewa Creek EcoPath.  The Mattawa River Canoe Race is returning on July 23 with its 64 km and 13 km races after a 2 year hiatus due to COVID and a Watershed Images Photo Contest will be launched in May.

“In the next month, NBMCA will be announcing a partnership with the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre for the creation of a unique outdoor space where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can gather, honouring the culture and teachings of the Indigenous community while developing an appreciation of the significance of water to all,” said Buckle.

Many of NBMCA’s member municipalities have proclaimed May as NBMCA’s 50th Anniversary Month which will be posted on the website, together with information on the historic milestone of NBMCA’s watershed management over the last 50 years.

Information on all of NBMCA’s 50th Anniversary activities can be found on www.nbmca.ca/50thAnniversary&Events
NBMCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, members of Conservation Ontario.

You can follow NBMCA on Twitter - @theNBMCA,  Facebook - theNBMCA and on Instagram - nbmcainfo