The Kootenay West MLA first caught wind of changes the Americans are proposing to the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) at a conference in 2010.
The Americans want to re-examine the current agreement because they think it is not equitable and the Canadian Entitlement is too much, said MLA Katrine Conroy.
“This has always been a worry for us,” she explained. “And we’ve really had concerns after myself and my colleague Norm MacDonald (MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke) first heard a presentation by the Americans at a conference a few years ago.
“After we heard that we went to cabinet to have the government start public consultations in Canada and start addressing the concerns.”
Although the major issue is downstream benefits, flood control and environmental issues are also being heard, said Conroy.
“We would not decommission dams. Especially after the disconcerting high water levels in 2012,” she said, adding, “they need our flood control, water for irrigation and the power it generates. We are in a good position to negotiate.”
The CRT review began in 2011 with a series of public workshops and commitment from the Local Governments’ Committee, with support from Columbia Basin Trust, to provide an opportunity for residents to understand the impact of the treaty and have a say in its future terms.
A working draft report of the review was released by the Ministry of Energy and Mines Sept. 28, and one last round of public consultations begin next month.
“This is the last kick at the can,” said Conroy. “Here’s one last opportunity to see what they’ve put together and the key issues from people in the Basin before we take it to Cabinet later this year.”
Final provincial CRT workshops are scheduled for Jaffray (Nov. 4), Golden (Nov. 5), Nakusp (Nov. 6) and Castlegar (Nov. 7).