The results show that municipalities have relatively high levels of knowledge about WPAC and their work, and over 80 percent of survey respondents felt it was important for their municipality to work with their WPAC. They reported that the biggest benefits of working with a WPAC were increased knowledge, awareness, education, expertise and information. Some municipalities reported a lack of awareness of WPAC planning exercises and results were mixed in terms of impact on municipalities in making more informed decisions and developing statutory documents.
“WPACs have an impact, but the degree of impact ranged from a high of 69% to a low of 41%, according to the WPAC,” says Chris.
In general, the percentage of respondents who said WPACs have increased awareness of municipalities in broad areas – such as the relationship between land use planning and watershed health and the quality and quantity of water water – ranged between 80 and 40%.
“These mixed results are a testament to the effectiveness of WPAC’s communications with municipalities,” says Lorraine. “For some councils, poor communication limits the full benefit of sharing information and expertise on land and water management and planning. While WPACs have a lot to offer, not all municipalities maximize the benefits.
Municipalities identified linkage, engagement and communication as the greatest challenges and most often recommended increasing engagement through presentations to decision makers, in person or virtually to enable several municipalities to attend. WPACs can also collaborate to communicate with municipalities, especially on government initiatives or policies that affect all watersheds.
“Ultimately, improving the effectiveness of WPACs will improve land stewardship and water management for sustainable communities, which affects property values and impacts all citizens,” Chris said.