Next round of Columbia River Treaty talks set for Nelson next week

Kootenay West MLA represents B.C. in meetings

The West Kootenay will host the second round of meetings on Columbia River Treaty next week.

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, who is representing B.C. in the talks between Canada and the U.S., told the Trail Times that the meetings will be held in Nelson.

“The next negotiation meetings between B.C., Canada and the United States will take place Aug. 15 and 16 in Nelson, followed by meetings on Oct. 17 and 18 in Portland, Oregon,” said Conroy in an email reply.

“After that, we expect further meetings will be announced. We expect the negotiations will take time – likely over the next year or two.”

Conroy wouldn’t go into the details of the upcoming meetings.

“I can’t comment on the specifics of the negotiations, but I am optimistic and glad to see Canada and B.C. at the negotiating table with the U.S., working together towards the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

“As I’ve said before, collaboration between our two countries is the key to future success, and the fundamental principle of the Columbia River Treaty must continue to be maximizing benefits for Canada and the U.S. and sharing them equitably.”

The first meetings were held in Washington, D.C. at the end of May. Conroy shared her thoughts on the opening talks at a public meeting in Castlegar in June.

“The first couple of days are just presenting value statements, describing where we are going. So far the talks have been very congenial on both sides of the border,” Conroy told John Boivin of the Castlegar News.

“But it is give-and-take, and they are pushing on issues like our downstream benefits. They feel they pay too much for power, and we feel they have to pay for flood control. If they don’t have it there could be devastating consequences for the Americans downstream.”

The Columbia River Treaty, which was signed by both countries and ratified in 1964, is a water management agreement. At the time, the U.S. agreed to pay Canada $64 million over 60 years to adjust reservoir levels of 15.5 million acre-feet of water behind Canada’s Duncan, Mica and Hugh Keenleyside dams in order to control American flooding and power generation. B.C. also currently receives a payment of approximately $250 million worth of electricity each year.

Conroy told the reporters in June coming to a new agreement is going to take time.

“I think this is an ongoing process, will take a few years, this is not something that can be done overnight or over a few meetings,” she said. “It’s going to be back and forth, ensuring the proper information is shared. I think it will take a while.”

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