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Evaluation of municipal-provincial wetland management partnerships in Alberta

Replacing wetland habitat that is lost as a consequence of development is a policy goal in Alberta. Between 2005 and 2019, habitat restoration was delivered through Wetland Restoration Agents (WRAs), including Ducks Unlimited Canada, The City of Calgary, and the County of Vermilion River.

The goal of this project was to review and summarize the WRA programs of both The City of Calgary and the County of Vermilion River in order to document program accomplishments and challenges. The overall objective was to provide recommendations for how municipal governments can be more meaningfully engaged in wetland management in Alberta.

The insights and recommendations presented in the final report were informed by 15 semi-structured, key-informant interviews conducted with a range of municipal and provincial government personnel, as well as representatives of other organizations. These parties regularly interact with the provincial wetland policy and/or were directly involved in the design or delivery of municipal wetland restoration programs.

There was overwhelming consensus among those interviewed that municipalities play a key role in achieving more effective wetland management in Alberta; however, a lack of clarity around the goals, objectives, and expectations for wetland restoration was a limiting factor for program success. Further, both the municipalities and the provincial government were challenged by limited resources—both in terms of the number and expertise of the people committed to the wetland restoration programs, as well as the amount and quality of the data and information available to execute the work.

Ultimately, this project found that more meaningful partnerships between municipalities and the provincial government will require an effort from both sides. Specifically, the focus should be on creating productive and meaningful communication that can lead to trusting and productive partnerships. By enabling greater and more meaningful participation of municipalities in wetland management, local, regional, and provincial objectives for wetland conservation and restoration are more likely to be achieved