The Province’s Columbia River Treaty Review team was in Golden last Tuesday to meet with the public and discuss its list of recommendations.
The review was initiated by the B.C. government in 2011 to evaluate future decision options, including possible continuation, amendment or termination of the treaty. The nearly 50-year-old treaty can be terminated by either Canada or the U.S. in 2024, but 10 year’s notice must be given by next year.
The Review Team, led by Executive Director Kathy Eichenberger, discussed their recommendations for treaty amendments and listened to the concerns that locals have with the treaty. Among the review team’s recommendations and principles are the exploration of the restoration of salmon migration, the supplemententation of Called Upon Flood Control and improved co-ordination on Libby Dam and Koocanusa Reservoir operations.
“There is still work to be done, but the committee feels that we are going in the right direction,” said Eichenberger. “[Local government] wants the province to continue to work with the committee with issues that aren’t necessarily directly related with the treaty but that could benefit the community as well.”
Town Coun. Ron Oszust, a member of the local government committee that is reviewing the treaty, has used the review process to give a voice to an issue that has plagued the area for some time now.
“The Kinbasket reservoir has been neglected for the last 40 years,” he said. “It can fluctuate up to 175 vertical feet. Many years on the May long weekend, it’s pretty much a desolate moonscape.”
The reservoir was created with the creation of the Mica Dam in 1973, 135 kilometres north of Revelstoke. When the dam was built, the province said that the reservoir would have recreational benefits. That hasn’t happened due to fluctuating water levels and the threat of an inland tsunami.
A decades-old geo-technical report of the reservoir revealed that there is a danger that portions of the surrounding mountains could slide into the reservoir, and if water levels are high enough, could create an enormous wave. Because of this threat, no development has been permitted within 25 metres of the reservoir’s edge. A study is currently being conducted on whether that danger is still present and is due for release next spring.
Other problems that are keeping the reservoir from being a destination for recreation include a lack of proper road access, a limited development of trails and an overall lack of recreational infrastructure.
“[The review process] has been a great opportunity to be able to address some aspects of the dam and the reservoir that fit under the Columbia River Treaty,” said Coun. Oszust. “But it’s also been valuable to chase after some other aspects that are defined as domestic, between us and the province,” he said.