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

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

The eighth round of negotiations over the Columbia River Treaty wrapped up in Cranbrook on Wednesday, as representatives continued to work towards modernizing a decades-old water management agreement between Canada and the United States.

Delegates from the federal and provincial levels of government, along with the U.S. and First Nations, met for the talks in the ʔaq’am Community, where members from the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc made presentations on the impacts of the treaty, according to Katrine Conroy, the provincial minister responsible for the negotiations.

“I think its great that the negotiations are back in the Basin,” said Conroy, the MLA for Kootenay West.

“…In the latest round of talks, the eighth round, the delegations talked about issues related to flood risk management and hydro power, as well as ecosystem co-operation. To that end, on behalf of Canada and B.C., there were representatives from the three First Nations, the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc — they made presentations on ecosystem functions and salmon reintroduction.”

READ: Feds announce Indigenous inclusion in Columbia River Treaty talks

The Columbia River Treaty is a water management agreement that was signed between Canada and the United States in 1964. The treaty stipulated the construction of three dams on the Canadian side — Duncan, Hugh L. Keenleyside and Mica — while a fourth was constructed in Libby, MT.

In exchange for flood control, Canada also receives a share of incremental benefits from downstream power generation.

The treaty has been criticized for its lack of consultation with communities, particularly First Nations, when it came into effect over 50 years ago. The construction of the dams flooded approximately 110,000 hectares of land that impacted farms, tourism, forestry and Indigenous territory.

Conroy noted that the discussions around the treaty are important for future Basin residents who may be impacted by the renegotiated terms.

“I think it’s important, from my perspective as the Minister — and I’ve talked with [federal] Minister [Chrystia] Freeland about this — is that these are ongoing negotiations because these are negotiations that are going to affect generations to come, of people who live in the Basin,” Conroy said.

“50-60 years ago, when the initial discussions happened about the Columbia River Treaty, nobody was consulted. Nobody that lives in the Basin was consulted, the Indigenous people from the nation were not consulted and we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

“It’s critically important that the voices of the people in the Basin are part of the negotiations at the table.”

Conroy added that the ongoing talks are going to take time and that a ninth round of discussions will occur in the United States in November, either in Washington DC or in one of the four states impacted by the Treaty — Washington, Idaho, Montana or Oregon.

There are two public consultation and information sessions coming up in the East Kootenay regarding the Columbia River Treaty. The College of the Rockies will be hosting one on Oct. 22 from 5-8 p.m. while the Jaffray Community Hall will be hosting a session the next day at the same time.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: The Exorcist film set was haunted

Your morning start for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Health care priorities debated following surprise funding announcement

Surprise provincial funding stirs debate on local health care priorities during regional meeting

Morning Start: High heels were first designed for men

Your morning start for Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

COVID-19 outbreak at South Okanagan farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: Revelstoke rallies to save snared eagle

Local climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Most Read