Have your say about the Columbia River Treaty on June 20


The Mica Dam, completed in 1973, was the third Columbia River Treaty dam built in Canada and it created the Kinbasket Reservoir. Photo courtesy of BC Hydro

The Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee is hosting information sessions in seven communities — including Revelstoke on Wednesday, June 20 — to prepare Basin residents to take part in the provincial consultations on the Columbia River Treaty (CRT).

The province is beginning its consultation to review the 1964 Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the U.S. this spring, and has committed to consulting with affected people in BC to ensure their concerns are heard.

“The information session in Revelstoke is hosted by local governments, with support from Columbia Basin Trust, and will include an open house starting at 3 p.m., a chance to discuss issues with experts from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and a free dinner so people can continue talking and sharing ideas before the consultation workshop with the province at 7 p.m.,” Deb Kozak, CRT Local Governments’ Committee Chairwoman and Councillor for the City of Nelson. Said in a statement released WednesdAy morning by the CBT.

When                                                                        What

Wednesday, June 20                                    Open House             3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Revelstoke Community Centre                        Discussion            5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

600 Campbell Avenue                                    Free Dinner            6:30 p.m.to 7 p.m.

Provincial Consultation Workshop 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The information sessions in Jaffray, Creston, Nakusp, Castlegar, Valemount, Golden and Revelstoke, will give residents a chance to get answers to questions they raised during 2011 information sessions and to prepare for the provincial consultation.

In addition to these community information sessions, there will also be online information sessions on Thursday, June 7 at 9 a.m. PDT, 10 a.m. MDT, and Monday, June 18 at 7 p.m. PDT and 8 p.m. (MDT). The online sessions are not part of the provincial consultation. Learn more at www.cbt.org/crt/infosession.

“It is important that residents be involved in the process and engage in positive and productive dialogue on the future of the CRT,” Loni Parker, Director of the  Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Area B, and a member of the CRT Local Governments’ Committee.

If you can’t attend an information session, you can learn more on your own schedule by taking an online tutorial at www.cbt.org/crt/tutorial. For more information about any of these upcoming opportunities to learn more about the Columbia River Treaty visit www.cbt.org/crt.

“Columbia Basin Trust’s primary role is to act as a resource for Basin residents and local governments. That’s why we’re working with the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee and the Province to ensure this region and its residents are informed and actively engaged in Treaty-related issues,” CBT Chairman Garry Merkel said in the statement.

The CRT is an international agreement between Canada and the United States to coordinate flood control and optimize hydroelectric power generation on both sides of the border. Under the 1964 treaty, three dams were constructed in Canada, including Mica, Duncan and Hugh Keenleyside.  A fourth dam, Libby, was constructed in Montana. Its reservoir, the Koocanusa, extends 67 kilometres into Canada. Since its ratification in 1964 the CRT has influenced the management of the Columbia and Kootenay River systems in both Canada and the United States. Residents in the Columbia Basin, on both sides of the border, will be directly affected by any decision related to the future of the CRT will shape transboundary water management across the entire Columbia Basin for decades to come.

The CRT has no official expiry date, but has a minimum length of 60 years, which is met in September 2024. Either Canada or the United States can terminate many of the provisions of the agreement effective any time after September 2024, provided written notice is filed at least 10 years in advance (2014). While no decision has been made by either Canada or the United States on the future of the current treaty, given the importance of the issues, and the approaching date of 2014, both countries are now conducting studies and exploring future options for the CRT.

Links to additional information sources:

1. This short video presents key facts on CRT history: http://www.cbt.org/newsroom/?view&vars=1&content=Multimedia&WebDocID=2515

2. Fact sheet that outlines relationship between CBT and the CRT, and CBT’s role: http://www.cbt.org/crt/assets/pdfs/CRT_fact_sheet.pdf

3. Brochure that provides an overview of the CRT: http://www.cbt.org/crt/assets/pdfs/CRTbrochure.pdf