Lots of activity on Canada side but no new updates with USA

By James Rose
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Last week, the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) local governments committee released its February to June update. The committee is comprised of local governments across the Columbia Basin, including the four regional districts in the region, the village of Valemount and the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments.

There are no new updates between Canada and the United States. The tenth round of CRT negotiations between Canada and the United States was conducted by web conference at the end of June. No further negotiating sessions have been scheduled, which is due to there being a new president in the White House. Presidential transitions take time.

On the Canadian side however, there has been considerable activity – though none of which is earth shattering in importance. The CRT negotiations advisory team, which includes the five governments on the Canadian side of the border – B.C., Canada, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx-Okanagan Nations together have an initiative underway to examine potential Canadian domestic governance models for the treaty.

This initiative explores the role of indigenous nations in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As a reminder, UNDRIP is a legally non-binding resolution passed by the United Nations in 2007 which defines the rights of indigenous peoples, including their ownership rights to cultural and ceremonial expression, identity, language, employment, health and education.

The initiative aims to explore how basin communities could have a voice in future decisions regarding treaty operations planning. This work will include consultation with indigenous nations, local governments, and basin residents.

The other notable initiative underway from the CRT negotiations advisory team is a customized computer model to evaluate negotiations proposals from the United States. The computer model has also been designed to evaluate alternative hydro system operations scenarios to best meet CRT advisory team interests. Socio-economic interests include flood risk management, recreation, tourism and dust generation, among others.

The next update from the local governments committee is expected in fall 2021.