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

$53 million for Grand Forks flood recovery

Province, feds and city each chipping in

Electric-bike project for seniors, disabled coming to Rossland

“Cycling Without Age” gets the immobile moving on special electric bikes

Council awards contract to upgrade Trail jail cells

The city received notification from the RCMP detailing modifications in 2009

Rossland’s Seven Summits Centre for Learning celebrates class of 2019

Small class packs big punch in skills and ability

Women, children escaping domestic violence have few options in Nelson

The 11th annual Report Card on Homelessness shows a need for women’s housing

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Fundraiser for Sparwood cancer patient raises over $80k

“Friday was something I won’t ever forget,” said Sparwood’s Barry Marchi.

Former Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

Case of missing Kootenay teen still unsolved 50 years later

Phillip Porter, age 16, disappeared near his home in Kimberley on June 26, 1969

B.C. senior’s car vandalized for more than 18 months

Retired RCMP officer determined to catch ‘tagger.’

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Man charged in crash that killed B.C. pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Most Read