The last public face-to-face consultation between the province and residents of the Columbia Basin regarding the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) review is scheduled for Friday.
“The province has done a very thorough canvassing of the basin because they need to hear from people,” said Trail councillor, Gord DeRosa.
“The first time around there was no negotiation. And, this is the last kick at the cat, so to speak.”
DeRosa is referring to the 1964 agreement between Canada and the United States, on the development and operation of dams in the upper Columbia River basin; for power and flood control benefits in both countries.
The treaty grew out of two major challenges: devastating flooding to areas close to the Columbia River in both Canada and the U.S.; and the need for more electricity to support a growing population in the Pacific Northwest.
Four dams were constructed under this treaty: three in Canada (Duncan, Mica, and Keenleyside) and one in the United States (Libby).
Although the treaty was signed without a specific termination date, a minimum length of 60 years (2024) was agreed upon. However, the treaty states that either country may terminate the agreement by providing a minimum of 10 years advance, written notice.
However, there are now concerns regarding the long-term social and economic impacts to the local communities on both sides of the border, and the environmental effects associated with the construction and operation of large dams.
“I think it is important for people to recognize that our dams and reservoirs are a major part of our basin, and occupy a large portion of our land base,” said Kindy Gosal, director of special initiatives with Columbia Basin Trust. “Their operation have an impact on not only the communities that live in the basin, but also on the general revenue of the province and the fish and wildlife that live here too.”
Kosal said that the CRT set a framework for operational decisions, and people need to be aware that it does affect future decisions regarding BC’s economy, ecosystems, culture, society and recreation.
The conference will be live-streamed and includes an open house and panel discussion. The Castlegar Sandman Inn hosts the event, which is scheduled from 9 a.m until 5 p.m. For more information go to cbt.org.