Taking talks to the next stage

Municipalities and regional districts are continuing to discuss the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

A group of elected officials from local municipalities and regional districts, who form the Columbia River Treaty Governments’ Committee, are continuing the discussion around the Columbia River Treaty following the community events held late last year.

“The Columbia Basin Trust staff has now done some community consultations,” said Deb Kozak, Nelson city councillor and chair of the Local Governments’ Committee. “The feedback that we received in those first rounds of consultations is being currently analyzed by staff and will come back to the Local Governments’ Committee for consideration as we move forward with strategy.”

The work by the committee and the Columbia Basin Trust is being done to prepare for the possibility of the renegotiation of the treaty.

“We are working closely with our MPs and MLAs to keep them in the loop as to what is happening in the region,” said Kozak.

The treaty — which was ratified in 1964 — has no official expiry date, but has a minimum length of 60 years, which is met in September 2024.

If either Canada or the US decides to terminate many of the provisions of the treaty, written notice must be filed at least 10 years in advance – which would be 2014.

Kozak said the way that we view the Basin, the water systems and water in general has changed.

The community events staff received a lot of feedback from people in the region who lived through the original treaty negotiations.

“The turnout throughout the region has been phenomenal,” said Kozak. “And there are a lot of people in the region who are well informed because they lived here at the time when the treaty was struck, and so those people are coming out as well and that adds to the large base of knowledge that’s right here in the Kootenays and across the region.”

If anyone is interested in learning more about the treaty and how to get involved they can contact Deb Kozak at 250-352-5511 or email dkozak@nelson.ca or visit the Columbia Basin Trust website at cbt.org