Local politicians are hopeful about the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. (File photo)

West Kootenay politicians hopeful about Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Conroy said the government has heard from First Nations throughout the Basin.

Following the U.S. Department of States announcement that the Columbia River Treaty will be revisited beginning in early 2018, local politicians are hopeful that the renegotiating could be positive for the West Kootenay region.

Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and Minister for Children and Families, is also the Minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty. While she won’t be directly involved in negotiations, her staff will be.

“Some of the things that need to be dealt with are the fact that when the original treaty was signed it was just a focus on flood control and power generation, and today we need to make sure that we look into issues around the environment, climate change,” said Conroy. “We have to make sure that things like tourism and recreation that’s really impacted by low reservoir levels, that we deal with that.”

Conroy also added that the government has heard from First Nations throughout the Basin that they have certain issues they would like to see addressed as well.

Asked if she thinks there’s any chance the U.S. will pay Canada less following renegotiation of the treaty, Conroy said no.

“When you look at what they get for what they pay, I think they get an extremely fair deal,” she said. “If you think of towns like Portland or any of the communities along the river if they started to not have the flood control, that could have really devastating results for them. If they didn’t have the amount of water that they need for the fishery systems they have, it could also be quite devastating. And for the power generation, they need the water too.”

Richard Cannings, MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, hopes that negotiations will go smoothly.

“Canada is, I think, negotiating from a position of strength and I hope they take advantage of that. We hold the taps on the water, when that water is held back and when it is released in those dams,” he said.

Cannings also brought up First Nations participation in the renegotiation.

“It’s a very different world that we’re in right now, compared to when the first Treaty was negotiated… First Nations participation is really a must this time, certainly on the Canadian side and I think to a large extent on the American side as well. So that will change things, I think,” he said.

Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff is enthusiastic about the negotiations and hopes that the impact of water levels on recreation will be addressed.

“I look at the recreation part of it and how we can maintain a better level on the Arrow Lakes for longterm, because when it drops and all those fluctuations — I would think if there’s a way to do that, I would love to see that in the negotiations,” he said.

In its tweet, the U.S. Department of State said, “The United States and #Canada will begin negotiations to modernize the landmark Columbia River Treaty regime in early 2018.”

Asked for clarification on what was meant by “modernize,” a State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs replied: “We will look at more than 50 years of successful implementation and work with our Canadian colleagues on modernization. Maintaining a similar level of flood risk in the United States post-2024 is an important component; as is rebalancing the power benefits between the two countries. We’ll also look at better addressing ecosystem considerations and see how adaptive management can help ensure our cooperative management of the river is responsive to new information or changing conditions.”

One local organization with a historic tie to the Treaty will have nothing to do with the renegotiation.

While the Columbia Basin Trust was established in 1995 in recognition of the impacts the Treaty had on the Columbia Basin region, the Trust is now completely self-funded, and renegotiation of the Treaty will have no impact on the Trust.

Just Posted

Lemon Creek fuel truck driver gets $20,000 fine

Danny LaSante was sentenced in Nelson court today

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

South Slocan woman killed in Friday crash

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read