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

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

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

Pictured is mosquito larvae in a body of water. (City of Cranbrook file)
Cranbrook mosquito control program underway

Early tests identify a possible boom in the local mosquito population

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

Clockwise from top left: The Studio Stage Door (Barry Coulter photo); Spencer Kerr (left) and Ferdy Belland, have along with Casey Wright purchased the historic Armond Theatre in downtown Cranbrook (Barry Coulter photo); St. Eugene Mission Resort (Jim Cameron photo); Juniper Lanes Bowling Alley (Trevor Crawley photo)
Cranbrook’s Heritage Buildings: The Age Of Restoration

Cranbrook History Centre’s next “Ed Talk,” April 28, is “Building Community in Heritage Buildings”

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kimberley's Steve Tersmette has published Waterfall Hikes In Southern British Columbia, documenting 100 of the areas waterfalls.

Most Read