The City of Regina and several academic institutions have announced a bid to bring the new Canada Water Agency to the city.
Regina mayor Sandra Masters, along with Economic Development Regina, the heads of University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada, SaskPolytech and the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, said Regina is the obvious choice for the agency.
The federal government announced its creation in 2019 and has just completed a public consultation. Consultation continues with First Nations through 2021.
John Lee of EDR said no resource is more important than fresh clean water.
“Canada has the third-largest renewable supply of fresh water in the world,” he said. “Agriculture is the number one consumer of water in Canada. Freshwater is often sacred and at the centre of life for all indigenous peoples. Saskatchewan has more than 100,000 lakes, numerous rivers and reservoirs. These stats and information speak to the importance of what we are doing here today.”
A steering committee that includes representation from Manitoba has been working on the initiative.
Masters said Saskatchewan is already a key centre for water management research in Canada, boasting more water researchers per capita than any other province as well as the largest freshwater project in the world.
She said one of the city’s key advantages has already been cited by prime minister Justin Trudeau.
“Regina was named as the location for the Canada Water Agency in the original announcements,” Masters said.
“The purpose of it was to build upon the legacy of the PFRA, which was of course housed in Regina. You’d appreciate why (other cities) would want it. I just think that our competitive advantage is it was essentially conceptualized with us in mind.”
Academic leaders said water research already plays a big role at their institutions but landing the CWA would boost those efforts. They noted partnerships among them that are already in place.
“Water is an area of particular focus and collaboration,” said Dr. Thomas Chase, interim president of the U of R.
“In terms of inter-institutional collaboration across Canada we’ve collaborated on water or climate change research with 27 Canadian universities. We have international collaborations with researchers in 50 countries on freshwater and climate change research.”
Masters said the effort also has support from the provincial government.
The agency would bring 100 full-time jobs and annual economic impact of $70 million.