Treaty discussions continue in Golden

The Columbia River Treaty Review team came to Golden for another round of consultations.

A provincial team of consultants on the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) came through Golden to make a presentation and gather feedback about the governments upcoming decision of whether to continue, or terminate the treaty.

“Congratulations Golden, because last night there were only five people,” said Mayor Christina Benty to the crowded room at the Golden Civic Centre. “We were impacted by the last process, so we need to be engaged on the future process.”

This is the second round of consultations, the last being in the spring of 2012, and government and BC Hydro representatives are travelling around the basin to get input.

The CRT is a trans-boundary water management agreement between the United States and Canada (signed in 1961 and ratified in 1964), and was born out of the need for flood control, and a growing demand for electricity.

Some residents were displaced, and access to some of the area’s recreational lands were lost. This time around residents want to make sure that they minimize the environmental impact, and are also compensated fairly.

The presentation mainly focused on the benefits and impacts of either continuing, or terminating the treaty, which was referred to as a “high level strategic decision.”

Although there is the possibility of renegotiating the treaty, that would depend on the United States and Canada agreeing to new terms. If the government chooses to follow this option, Canadians might not get what they want.

The residents at the Golden consultation focused more on issues related to the Mica Dam, whose reservoir is the Kinbasket Lake. Maintaining more stable and higher reservoir levels to support fish, recreation, navigation and reduce dust, is the main priority for the Kinbasket Reservoir.

Kinbasket was formerly a much enjoyed recreational area for Golden residents, but access to the lake has gotten difficult, and debris continues to fill the water.

At the previous consultation residents expressed interest in the construction of a water retention structure (either a weir or dam) to maintain stable high waters in the Kinbasket Reservoir for recreational purposes.

A feasibility study has already been conducted, and it has been determined that a dam is not a viable option, given that it would add an extra $250 million to the bill.

“It’s pretty darn expensive, and for that reason, it’s not being looked at right now,” said Kathy Eichenberger, executive director of the Columbia River Treaty Review Team.

Although the turnout was good, the Columbia River Treaty Review Team still wants more input from Golden residents. Go to www.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty to learn more about the CRT and to voice your concerns.