The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are going to be getting an increase in funding thanks to the recent announcement from the Regional District of East Kootenay that it will be providing an annual grant of $10,000 to the stewardship group’s programs for the next five years.
“The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are delighted to be the recipient of this generous contribution from the Regional District of East Kootenay,” said Megan Peloso, program co-ordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors.
The Lake Windermere Ambassadors originally formed in 2010, building on the Lake Windermere Project that took place from 2005 to 2009. The Lake Windermere Ambassadors have a vision for a healthy Lake Windermere, with a management approach that supports both traditional and recreational uses while balancing economic prosperity in the region.
Peloso said one of the valuable features of the Ambassadors is their ability to provide reliable water quality sampling for the lake.
“A unique feature of that program involves training members of the public, so that they effectively become citizen scientists with a greater understanding of the workings of the watershed and protocol for protecting its integrity,” she said. “The Ambassadors also collect water samples at public beaches, and conduct a suite of outreach events and educational programs to encourage best practices in water stewardship and balanced management of the foreshore.”
She said that one of the little known facts about the Ambassadors is that they are also designated as the Lake Management Committee, which supports the non-regulatory implementation of the Lake Windermere Management Plan adopted by the District of Invermere and RDEK in 2011. Through this, they work with both the District of Invermere and RDEK to provide recommendations on applications for development along the Lake Windermere foreshore.
Prior to this new RDEK grant, the District of Invermere has been supporting the Lake Windermere Ambassadors through a Fee for Service Agreement since 2010 with the RDEK also supporting the Ambassadors through other individual discretionary grants, said Peloso. This year, after being renewed as the Lake Management Committee, the Ambassadors approached the RDEK board with a proposal for continuous operational support through the Economic Services and Development Tax. It’s through this process that they were awarded an annual $10,000 for their programs over the next five years.
Peloso said this will be integral for a volunteer association like the Ambassadors.
“Committed funding, especially from local sources, helps to provide security and legitimacy to non-profits whose successful work plan is heavily reliant on continuous fundraising and volunteer participation,” she said, noting that previously her job required a lot more time spent on finding external funding to continue their work. “Generous contributions like this five-year commitment from the RDEK gives the Lake Windermere Ambassadors a little more security, so that they can focus on water monitoring in Lake Windermere, exploring the future partnerships, and developing great restoration projects to benefit the whole lake community.”
“The RDEK board considers all funding requests that are received, and based on the value the lake provides for residents and visitors, felt that the work being undertaken by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors warranted support,” RDEK chair Shawn Tomlin told The Echo in an email.