Draft outlines Province’s stance on CRT

The Province has decided it would like to make improvements to the Columbia River Treaty after consultation throughout the region.

The Province has decided it would like to make improvements to the Columbia River Treaty after extensive consultation throughout the region and a trip to the U.S. capital.

Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review, announced the release of the Province’s draft recommendation aimed at seeking improvements within the existing framework of the Columbia River Treaty.

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.

The provincial government has spent the last several years consulting with various levels of government and residents trying to decide whether it would be in B.C.’s best interest to renew the treaty, terminate it, or try to renegotiate it before it expires in 2024.

The draft recommendation follows a recent trip to Washington D.C. by Premier Christy Clark where she advocated for treaty improvements in B.C. during a series of meetings with senior leadership in the United States Congress.

The Columbia River Treaty Review Team is also continuing to engage U.S. parties to explain B.C.’s perspectives.

The draft recommendation includes principles that will guide the Province in any discussions on the future of the treaty with Canada and the United States. These include consideration of flood control, hydropower generation, ecosystems, climate change and benefits to B.C.

“We believe there are improvements that can be made within the existing framework of the Columbia River Treaty and we’re working with various stakeholders, First Nations and the public to identify them. The treaty consultations helped form our draft recommendation, and further feedback will ensure everyone will have their say in the future of the treaty,” said Bennett.

The provincial Columbia River Treaty Review has included economic, environmental, social, hydrological and legal analyses as well as extensive public and First Nations consultation leading to a decision on whether to continue, amend or terminate the Columbia River Treaty with the United States. Both B.C.’s treaty review team and the U.S. Entity (Bonneville Power Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers) are expected to make final recommendations to their respective governments in December.

The draft recommendation document is available for public review and comment until Nov. 20, 2013, after which the Columbia River Treaty Review Team will prepare its final recommendation to Cabinet. Further public input is being sought to ensure regional interests help shape the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

The review team will be in Golden for a consultation on Tuesday Nov. 5 at the Golden Civic Centre.

The draft recommendation can be viewed at www.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty, where there is also space provided for feedback.