Nathalie Allard is one of the Ktunaxa Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. She spoke at a recent meeting in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nathalie Allard is one of the Ktunaxa Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. She spoke at a recent meeting in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Canadian and B.C. negotiators at the Columbia River Treaty table with the U.S. government have not hit the hard parts yet, according to the lead of the province’s negotiating team.

“The negotiations have not been heated yet,” Kathy Eichenberger told a public meeting in Nelson on Nov. 13 attended by about 60 people.

“We are exchanging information and data, trying to understand each other’s views and concerns and so far it is cordial, but it is going to get tough. We are not at that point yet though. These first rounds are an opportunity to get comfortable with each other. Things will get more difficult.”

Negotiators from Canada, B.C., and the U.S. have met eight times in the past two years in different locations, most recently hosted by the Ktunaxa Nation.

A sticking point

One of the expected sticking points in the negotiations, according to Eichenberger, will be what is known as the Canadian Entitlement.

That’s a provision of the treaty that sees the U.S. pay Canada half of the value of power generated by Columbia River flows from Canada (about $120 million worth of power annually).

“We have not talked about the Canadian Entitlement yet,” said Lyn Ponniah of Global Affairs Canada, taking part in the meeting by video link.

“The U.S. thinks it is too high,” she said. “But the Canadian team will not accept a deal that does not have value for Canada. By value I mean not just monetary but also taking into consideration all the things we have heard from residents about ecosystem flexibility, salmon introduction, attention being given to climate impacts.”

Protecting ecosystems

Eichenberger implied that one of the other issues that could become contentious might be Canada’s desire for ecosystem flexibility and protection.

“How we use and understand ecosystems are very different on both sides of the border,” she said.

She did not elaborate on this, as on many other issues, because they are all in the process of negotiation and therefore confidential. She acknowledged this is frustrating for members of the public wanting to know what is going on.

Ponniah mentioned two other issues that could become contentious but again did not elaborate.

“We also continued the discussions on flood risk management and hydro power and we are pleased to see progress on these. This is a complex undertaking as both sides grapple with their own unique data. We hope we can find common ground.”

Another potentially difficult issue, not mentioned at the meeting, is drought and decreased river flows in the U.S. because of climate change. This may mean that U.S. municipalities and agriculture will want more of the water stored behind dams in Canada.

A science lesson

Michael Zimmer, a biologist at the Syilx/Okanagan Nation told the meeting what ecosystem function was lost as a result of the treaty dams – huge runs of salmon and steelhead, thousands of miles of streams and tributaries and wildlife habitats they provided, several nursery lakes, and tribes’ consumption of fish.

He discussed progress in planning for salmon re-introduction on both sides of the border and about the extensive research and data collection needed to protect floodplains, forests, wetlands, reservoir ecosystems, and anadromous fish species.

First Nations involvement

Earlier this year the Global Affairs Canada invited representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations to participate as observers in the Canadian delegation at the negotiations. They take part in pre-negotiation meetings and have made presentations to the negotiators on salmon and ecosystems.

Nathalie Allard of the Ktunaxa Nation is one of those observers and attended the Nelson meeting.

“This allows us to regain our ability to meet our own responsibilities,” she said. “So it is very meaningful participation. Round Eight was hosted in my community and I took full advantage of that.

“I brought in the entire elementary school to open the meeting because I wanted to highlight our children because this is my life, not just a job, and I wanted to bring them into this. We are speaking for those who came before us and those yet to come.”

An audience member asked why the Sinixt, declared extinct by the federal government in the 1950s, are not at the table.

Eichenberger said the Colville Tribes in Washington State, which include the Sinixt, are being consulted by the U.S. government in the negotiations, and it could be seen as a conflict of interest if the Sinixt were advising both countries.

“But we do respect the decisions of the B.C. courts,” she said, “and we know they have rights in this region, there is no question, the courts have said so.”

The Nelson meeting was one of a series of such gatherings held throughout the region this fall.

Related:

• First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

• Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

• Columbia River Treaty: What’s on the table?

• COLUMN: A growing thirst south of the border

• COLUMN: Advocating for the Salmon Spirit



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Nathan Matthew is one of the Secwepemc Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty Negotiations. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nathan Matthew is one of the Secwepemc Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty Negotiations. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Just Posted

J. L. Crowe Secondary will host the convocation for 2021 Graduates on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Photo: Jim Bailey
Convocation goes Saturday with Kootenay Columbia grads in learning groups, no parents

Parents can live-stream the ceremony of their 2021 graduates online

Clarice Tuai, seen in front of the ‘50 Objects for 50 Years’ exhibit, is a summer student for the Trail museum/visitors centre. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Trail museum invites everyone to visit new Doukhobor exhibit

‘50 Objects for 50 Years’ runs until October 1

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A living wage sets a higher standard than the minimum wage; it is what a family needs to earn to provide the basic needs based on the actual costs of living in a community.
Fruitvale now a living wage employer

“I’m really excited that Fruitvale is leading the charge for municipalities locally,” Morissette said.

Black Press file photo
West Kootenay communities behind provincial COVID-19 vaccination rate

Only Trail is at the provincial average for vaccinations

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read