Farmland drainage crisis in Saskatchewan

Petition: 468

Issue(s): Biological diversity; Federal-provincial relations; Human/environmental health; Indigenous matters; Water

Petitioner(s): Canadian residents

Petitioner location(s): Kelvington, Saskatchewan

Date received: 20 May 2022

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: This petition highlights concerns surrounding a proposed drainage project for Duck Creek, a creek that runs through the petitioners’ land in Saskatchewan. The petition defines ditching as creating ditches to drain farmland, ultimately resulting in drainage onto other farmland, and states that ditching has been occurring for decades and is affecting the petitioners’ farmland. The petition highlights that ditching and several decades of flooding from upstream drainage works have resulted in several detrimental effects. These include the loss of farming land, increased salinity of farmland, the potential contamination of Duck Creek, and the loss of wetland habitat. The petition outlines that the Saskatchewan government deemed unpermitted ditches to be illegal in 2015 and that these ditches needed to become legal and permitted. The petition claims that to make these ditches legal, projects need to be undertaken to alter creeks by widening and deepening them. It alleges that such a project has been proposed on the petitioners’ farmland and outlines that this project will detrimentally affect the petitioner’s organic land and Duck Creek. The petition claims that the altered creeks will eventually drain into Big Nut Lake, a major water source for the Yellow Quill First Nation.

The petition questions whether the responsible departments will investigate the impact of the proposed drainage project on habitats in and along Duck Creek; on fish in Duck Creek; on the Yellow Quill First Nation’s water and hunting and fishing rights; and on climate change. Furthermore, the petition asks whether the responsible departments were consulted about the proposed drainage project on Duck Creek and asks what measures are being taken to protect the fish and fish habitat of the region and the land and water of the Yellow Quill First Nation. Finally, the petition questions whether Environment and Climate Change Canada is aware of the Province of Saskatchewan’s drainage plans and whether the department will take steps to understand these plans and their consequences to prevent the destruction of ecosystems and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Federal departments/organizations responsible for reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Indigenous Services Canada