The St. Mary River at Sunset. (Corey Bullock/Kimberley Bulletin file)

Ktunaxa Nation Council seeks motorized vessel restrictions on St. Mary River

The Ktunaxa Nation Council has asked the regional district for support in restricting motorized watercraft on the St. Mary River in response to environmental and fisheries concerns.

In a letter to the Regional District of East Kootenay, the Ktunaxa Nation Council seeks RDEK support as the lead local government agency in requesting that the federal government — as the regulatory authority — enact the restrictions.

“Ktunaxa People have used the St. Mary River valley for fishing, hunting, and gatherings since time immemorial,” wrote Vickie Thomas, Director, Land and Resources Sector with the Ktunaxa Nation Council. “The motorization of the St. Mary is not desirable, nor is it in agreement with Ktunaxa People’s role and responsibilities as stewards of the land, to protect ?a-kxam̓is q̓api qapsin (all living things) and ensure that the resources are available for future generations.”

Specific concerns stemming from jet boats on the river include impacts to fish spawning habitat, stream bank erosion, and noise pollution affecting wildlife as well as the nearby Aq’am community.

RDEK directors debated the request during a board meeting on June 4, and approved a motion directing staff to prepare a report outlining the process and the regional district’s role in working with the federal government to make an application for a vessel operation restriction.