Wetlands Tax Credit Program – R.M. of Dufferin
Wetlands are one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. They provide a vital habitat for hundred of species of waterfowl and other wildlife, filter harmful impurities and pollutants from the water we drink naturally, provide flood control for spring run off and heavy rainfall, control erosion so rich soil is not washed away and provide beautiful settings for a variety of outdoor activities.
Unfortunately, many wetlands have already been lost and we are losing more everyday. Wetlands play a key roll in controlling drainage and providing natural filtration to water that eventually ends up in our lakes.
The loss and destruction of wetlands is creating ecological problems in our water systems. With additional acres draining into our ditches and creeks it has increased downstream flooding and also the amount of phosphorus that is making it’s way into our lakes and streams which is creating algae and water quality problems.
An estimated 70% of wetlands across Canada have been drained over the last 20-30 years, “wetlands are often referred to as “Nature’s Kidney’s”, imagine if you were told that almost 70% of your kidney function had been lost I think you’d be very concerned” (Vicky Burns, http://canadawater.wordpress.com ).
It is because of these detrimental effects that the R. M. of Dufferin has taken a good look at ways to preserve and conserve our wetlands. We understand that with a downturn in the Cattle industry farmers are looking for ways to increase their farming acres and are less likely to use their land for pasturing animals. So we decided that they needed an incentive to preserve the wetlands that they have on their land.
The Council of the R. M. of Dufferin passed a by-law on the 23rd of March, 2010, identifying the eligible wetlands for the Dufferin Wetlands Tax Credit Program and passed a resolution for the program on April 20th, 2010.
The by-law indicates that the land owner will receive $40 per acre for each eligible acre. The minimum to be eligible for the program is 1 acre. The program is also available to land owners that are willing to re-establish wetlands that had previously been drained.
The R.M. of Dufferin originally believed they would be able to preserve approximately 250 acres of wetlands over the next 3 years with a budget of $10,000, however, with a generous contribution from the LaSalle Redboine Conservation District of $15,000 over 3 years, the number increased to 365 acres that are currently being preserved.
We believe that investing in wetlands now will also decrease our need to make disaster assistance claims in the future by slowing down the water during the spring melt and during heavy rainfall and retaining beneficial nutrients in the soil. “Paying people now is better than paying to fix environmental damage later, Councillor Fred Dunn was reported saying in The Western Producer. Dunn also said “What’s the cost of doing nothing? Once it’s gone, we’ll never get it back”
We have had an overwhelming response to our program and would certainly encourage other municipalities to create similar programs. We have also sent a request to lobby AMM for funding from the provincial and federal governments for wetland preservation programs.
We need to increase the knowledge of the next generation on the importance of wetland preservation. Ultimately the future of the wetlands is in their hands, so the more education, awareness and incentive programs we can provide, hopefully the more wetlands we will be able to retain.