Government House Leader, MP talk National Conservation Plan with environmental groups

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan and Essex MP Jeff Watson hosted a roundtable discussion in LaSalle last week dealing with the National Conservation Plan. Representatives from several environmental groups attended the discussion last Thursday afternoon.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan and Essex MP Jeff Watson hosted a roundtable discussion in LaSalle last week dealing with the National Conservation Plan. Representatives from several environmental groups attended the discussion last Thursday afternoon.

By Ron Giofu

 

The federal government’s National Conservation Plan was the subject of a roundtable discussion last week with a number of groups committed to the local environment.

Federal Cabinet minister Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, joined Essex MP Jeff Watson at a roundtable in LaSalle where Van Loan noted a variety of subjects were discussed with representatives of environmental organizations, scientists and local farmers. While media were not allowed inside, subjects were said to include such topics as restoration of wetlands, protecting ecological species and how agencies in this region can utilize the plan.

“We were talking about how this can be utilized in Windsor-Essex County to address local environmental challenges,” said Van Loan.

Stating there is already “a lot of good work happening locally” and that “there is a lot of good talent here,” Van Loan believed it was a productive session and one where a lot of working partnerships may have been formed with those partnerships possibly working towards tapping into the National Conservation Plan.

“Most of what I learned was the local challenges they are facing,” said Van Loan.

Watson called it “a healthy exchange” between key environmental stakeholders. He said in his ten years as a Member of Parliament, he has tried to bring cabinet ministers to meet with stakeholders, and with Van Loan in the area, it was a good time to discuss the National Conservation Plan.

“I think it serves as a catalyst for public and private groups to come together in Essex County to come up with projects that can be funded by the National Conservation Plan to improve the environment in the region,” said Watson.

The Essex MP stated he knows the stakeholders involved but believed it was important for Van Loan to hear from them as well.

“It was beneficial in both directions,” he said of the roundtable discussion. “I think my key message was that we have the tools through the National Conservation Plan. Let’s use them. That was well received.”

According to the government, the National Conservation Plan “includes significant additional investments over five years to secure ecologically sensitive lands, support voluntary conservation and restoration actions, and strengthen marine and coastal conservation. In addition, it includes new initiatives designed to restore wetlands and to encourage Canadians to connect with nature close to home through protected areas and green spaces located in or near urban areas.”

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