By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
At a Jan. 15 regular council meeting, members considered a request from the Oldman Watershed Council for financial support. The OWC received a $125 donation from the Town in 2023, and was asking for support at a rate of $0.48 cents per person from Vauxhall. With a population count of 1,434, a contribution of $688 was requested. In 2022, the Town decided not to contribute.
The OWC focuses on maintaining the health of streams, rivers and riparian areas in the region that relies upon them. Its website says, “All residents in the watershed have an invested interest in the health of the Oldman watershed. A healthy watershed benefits all of us. It is the key to a vibrant economy, enables society to maintain a high standard of living, and ensures a healthy aquatic ecosystem with good water quality.” The group spearheads restoration projects, educates the public and promotes healthy vegetation, fish habitat, vital river flows, and functional wetlands and aquifers.
The Oldman watershed begins with snowpack in the mountains of southwestern Alberta and flows down eastward as far as Vauxhall before terminating at the Grand Forks north of Grassy Lake. Its northernmost region extends as far as Milo, and to the south it stretches to Cardston. The Bow River watershed encompasses Banff, Calgary and points southeast like Carseland and Bassano.
Mayor Kim Cawley said that in some years the Town has supported the OWC financially and in others it has declined to. They’ve also donated to the Bow River Basin Council (BRBC), which Cawley called “equally important” because of the town’s proximity to both watersheds and rivers.
“Previously if we gave a donation to one, we gave a donation to both,” she said, and offered a rundown of the OWC’s purpose when a council member queried about its function.
Council agreed that it should support an agency that protects water resources and approved $344 each for the Oldman Watershed Council and Bow River Basin Council.