The B.C. Government this week announced the release of a list of principles that will guide it in coming talks with the United States on the future of the Columbia River Treaty.
And residents of the Columbia Basin are invited to contribute their input at a series of upcoming community workshops.
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review, announced the release of the province’s draft recommendation aimed at seeking improvements within the existing framework of the treaty.
The draft recommendation includes principles that cover consideration of flood control, hydropower generation, ecosystems, climate change and benefits to B.C.
“We believe there are improvements that can be made within the existing framework of the Columbia River Treaty and we’re working with various stakeholders, First Nations and the public to identify them,” Bennett said. “The treaty consultations helped form our draft recommendation, and further feedback will ensure everyone will have their say in the future of the treaty.”
The Columbia River Treaty is a 1964 agreement between Canada and the United States on the development and operation of dams in the upper Columbia River basin for power and flood control benefits in both countries.
Four dams were constructed under this treaty: three in Canada (Duncan Dam, Mica Dam, Keenleyside Dam) and one in the United States (Libby Dam).
The treaty provided for the sharing with Canada of one-half of the downstream U.S. power and flood benefits, and allows the operation of Treaty storage for other benefits.
The treaty has no end date, but it includes an option for either country to terminate most treaty provisions anytime after 60 years (September 16, 2024), given at least 10 years advance notice. The Canadian and US governments are reviewing the treaty before the 2014 opportunity for notice for earliest termination. Options generally fall into three categories:
• Continue the Treaty with the automatic change to called upon flood control;
• Terminate the treaty (with continued called upon flood control); or
• Negotiate changes to the treaty that modify the flood control and power obligations and/or create new provisions for other benefits, especially environmental objectives.
The province’s Columbia River Treaty Review team and the CRT Local Governments’ Committee — whose appointed representatives work on behalf of local governments in the area — are seeking further input from the public.
In the Cranbrook area, the nearest meeting is at Jaffray, Monday, Nov. 4 at the Jaffray Hall on Jaffray Village Loop Road. From 6:30 – 8 p.m. is the provincial workshop, to discuss the province’s draft recommendations. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. is the local governments’ workshop, when one can review draft recommendations developed by your local governments on the future of the CRT.
“We have heard from area residents about their concerns and issues regarding the CRT and we have sought advice from experts and others to find the best solutions,” said Director Mike Sosnowski, Regional District of East Kootenay. “Now we want to share this information with Basin residents and hear their views so we can refine our draft recommendations.”
Other workshops will be held in Golden (Tuesday, Nov. 5), Nakusp (Wednesday, Nov. 6), Castlegar (Thursday, Nov. 7) and Valemount (Thursday, Nov. 14).
The draft recommendation document is available for public review and comment until Nov. 20, 2013, after which the Columbia River Treaty Review Team will prepare its final recommendation to Cabinet.
To view and provide feedback on the draft recommendation visit: www.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty