Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy stands at the Columbia River shoreline. Photo: Submitted

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy stands at the Columbia River shoreline. Photo: Submitted

In a challenging year, work on Columbia River Treaty continues

Message from Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy

By Katrine Conroy

Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia River Treaty

On Nov. 26, I was sworn in as B.C.’s new minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development.

I was also honoured to return to my role as minister responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and last, but definitely not least, the Columbia River Treaty.

As a long-time resident of B.C.’s Columbia Basin, I know what the Columbia River Treaty means to people in this region, especially those whose lives, livelihoods and cultures have been affected by the treaty.

I have spoken with countless people over the years who have seen the effects first-hand and who have expressed the need for improvement.

The treaty has benefited the basin by reducing flood risk and increasing generation of clean electricity, but there are other critical issues to consider, like Indigenous values, ecosystem enhancement and regional economic development.

The importance of modernizing the treaty resonates loud and clear with the Canadian negotiating team.

In spite of the challenges this year has presented, federal, provincial and Indigenous Nations representatives have made progress, finding ways to move forward in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.

During the ninth round of Canada-U.S. negotiations, held in March 2020 in Washington, D.C., the U.S. tabled a framework for a modernized treaty. In June, negotiators met virtually for the 10th round of talks, during which the Canadian team tabled its own proposal, covering a range of issues, including flood-risk management, power generation, ecosystem function and increased flexibility for Canadian operations.

The proposal, developed collaboratively by B.C., Canada and Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations, reflects the expectation that a modernized treaty must be mutually beneficial to both Canada and the United States.

It is important to note Canada’s proposal drew on the input received over the years from the basin’s Indigenous Nations, local governments and residents.

We are listening, and we rely on your contributions.

In early December, three members of the U.S. House of Representatives tabled a resolution asking that the Trump administration give notice to terminate the treaty.

It is worth emphasizing there has not been a 10-year termination notice issued to date.

If such a notice were issued, we would work with Canada and basin Indigenous Nations to determine our next steps.

For now, we remain confident negotiations will continue because it is in the best interests of both countries to do so.

In the meantime, there is much work to be done at home.

Indigenous Nations continue to lead efforts to enhance ecosystems in the basin and explore the feasibility of restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia River.

Local governments are focusing on socio-economic objectives to be considered in a modernized treaty.

Our government is addressing community concerns related to the treaty and supporting initiatives across the basin, be they in Nakusp, Creston, Jaffray, Golden or Valemount, and aiding in the development of a heritage touring route, as one way to acknowledge what was lost as a result of the treaty dams.

In the new year, we will continue to engage basin communities about the treaty and related issues.

This is a critical time, not only for the basin, but for the whole province.

It means a great deal to me to be part of the efforts to ensure we have a treaty that benefits our region.

For now, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and thank you for making your voices heard.

Katrine Conroy

Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia River Treaty

BC governmentColumbia RiverLetter to the Editor

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

Just Posted

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Scamsters target Montrose resident. File photo
Fraudsters strike again in Montrose

A Montrose resident was taken for thousands in a COVID-related scam

(Black Press file photo)
Trail RCMP fine event organizer for flouting PHO order

Twenty-nine people attended an event at a place of worship in Trail

Violin Lake last fall. Photo: City of Trail
City of Trail applies for grant to decomission dams

Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation grant to restore Cambridge Creek and Violin Lk system

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Most Read