The Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar was one of three built as part of the Columbia River Treaty. It has had a huge impact on the Columbia River valley all the way to Revelstoke. Photo: Contributed

The Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar was one of three built as part of the Columbia River Treaty. It has had a huge impact on the Columbia River valley all the way to Revelstoke. Photo: Contributed

Local governments committee updates Columbia River Treaty recommendations

Updated recommendations developed after public feedback from Columbia Basin residents

Local governments in the Columbia Basin have sent a list of recommendations to the provincial, federal and Indigenous governments involved in the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty.

Municipalities, along with regional districts in the Southern Interior, developed the recommendations following consultation with Basin residents, having solicited public feedback as part of the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments Committee.

‘There are real opportunities to refine the Treaty and domestic hydro operations to reduce the negative impacts on our quality of life in the Basin,” states Linda Worley, who chairs the committee and serves as a director with the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary. “We thank Basin residents for continuing to advocate for improvements and the CRT Negotiating Team and Minister Conroy for the phenomenal engagement opportunities, for hearing our concerns and doing their utmost to rectify these impacts.”

In total, there were 14 recommendations that focused on treaty process and content, along with seven additional recommendations focused on domestic issues such as water management for the Lake Koocanusa Reservoir and a water management process for the Kootenay River.

Updated recommendations include a detail description of impacts from the Treaty, as well as less fluctuation in reservoir levels and a broader governance structure that includes Indigenous nations at a government-to-government level with the province and feds, as well as Indigenous and western science experts in ecosystem management.

Additional recommendations include adding ecosystem function as a third treaty priority, alongside hydro power generation and flood control management.

The Columbia River Treaty is a water management agreement between Canada and the United States that was ratified in 1964 and regulates the flows of the Columbia River for power generation in B.C. and flood control in the United States.

The agreement stipulated that the U.S. prepay Canada $64 million for flood control, as well as financial compensation for potential power that could be generated on the Columbia River due to altered flows that resulted from the Treaty.

The treaty led to the construction of the Mica Dam, Keenleyside Dam and Duncan Dam in British Columbia and the Libby Dam on the U.S. side in Montana.

However, the treaty has been criticized for it’s lack of Indigenous input when it was signed, as the construction and operation of the dams flooded 110,000 hectares, displacing more than 2,000 residents — including First Nations communities — while also impacting farming, tourism and forestry industries.

The treaty has no termination date, however, both the United States or Canada had the option to end the agreement from September 2024 onward, provided that 10 years notice is given. The two countries have been negotiating since 2018 to modernize the treaty based on domestic priorities for both sides.

The Ktunaxa, the Secwepemc and the Syilx-Okanagan First Nations joined the talks as observers in 2019, but have participated in negotiation preparations and have made presentations during treaty discussions.

The Columbia River Treaty Local Government Committee says it is aware of the provincial negotiating team’s pledge to bring back any renegotiated terms to residents and local governments for review before finalization in treaty talks.

“We encourage Basin residents and local governments to get educated about the Treaty and stay informed about the ongoing negotiations to be ready to provide input when invited,” adds Ms. Worley. “We assure the Negotiating Team that the Committee and Basin residents will be looking for significant changes in the Treaty that improve our quality of life compared to current operations.”

Katrine Conroy, the NDP MLA for Kootenay West, is serving as the B.C. minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, while Kathy Eichenberger is the B.C. lead on the Canadian delegation, while Sylvain Fabi is Canada’s chief negotiator.

The tenth round of negotiations was held last June.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

Volunteers from the Elk River Alliance cleared 14 car batteries from the Elk River near Elkford this week. (Photo contributed)
Elk River Alliance to move to more holistic environmental monitoring

The details of the ERA’s 2021 program will be discussed at the AGM next month

The Kitimat RCMP responded to false alarms, an apartment fire and more between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Sparwood backs campaign to study Surrey RCMP impact

The City of Surrey is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the province

Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.
RDEK ponders funding for Angel Flight East Kootenay

The district is considering funding for operations or to eventually help acquire a larger plane

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read