The federal government has passed a bill that will renew blanket protection for navigable lakes and rivers across Kootenay-Columbia — an issue strongly advocated by MP Wayne Stetski.
“I am pleased that the government has chosen to introduce a new mechanism for protecting our cherished lakes and rivers,” Stetski said. “While the bill uses a different approach than the one I suggested in my private members bill C-385, I am hopeful that the results will be the same.”
The legislation passed by the federal Liberals through Bill C-69 provides a new environmental assessment process and a new system for protecting navigable waters.
The lakes and rivers in the schedule still require a permit for “major works” such as dams, bridges, commercial piers, dumping, etc, as well as for “minor works” such as a cottage dock. All of the non-scheduled lakes and rivers also require a permit for major works, but minor works do not require a permit. However, there is an appeals and resolution process in the event there are objections to minor works.
Though the Liberals have extended protection for navigable rivers and lakes through Bill 69, Stetski had introduced his own Private Members Bill C-385 last November that would have relisted eligible waterways in Kootenay-Columbia into a schedule of protected waters in the Navigable Waters Act.
Stetski’s bill also would have meant that new dams, bridges, and other major and minor works, as well as dumping, would have required a federal permit.
Stetski accused the previous Conservative government of removing the protections which were seen as were barriers to building pipelines and industrial projects.
“This is an important step to protect our lakes and rivers,” Stetski said. “It is a reversal from the actions taken by the former Conservative government, and it helps protect our lakes and rivers from damaging development or dumping.
“Our environment, culture, economy and agriculture are dependent on water; lakes and rivers are central to our way of life in Kootenay-Columbia” Stetski said. “I am proud to have played a role in protecting them for generations to come.”