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Posted: July 30, 2018

B.C. and U.S. discuss river treaty at Spokane summit

Last week’s Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) summit provided an opportunity for the provincial government to meet with United States legislators to discuss the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

Hugh Keenleyside Dam, Castlegar. e-KNOW file photos

“I was able to hear directly from a wide variety of stakeholders from U.S. and Canada about how we can work together to make the treaty better, and U.S. legislators had a chance to see first-hand some of the treaty’s impacts in B.C.,” reported Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty. “Working together, we can create a better future for British Columbians and our neighbours south of the border, while also addressing such vital issues such as our ecosystem.”

The PNWER annual summit was held this year in Spokane, Wash., from July 22 to 26. The Columbia River Treaty was a key point of discussion at this year’s summit, which included several roundtable discussion panels and a two-day tour in southeast B.C., to provide U.S. legislators with a first-hand understanding about the benefits and impacts of the treaty.

Conroy joined the tour group for visits to significant sites, such as the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, which creates the Arrow Lakes Reservoir, and the Spicer farm in Nakusp, one of the farms inundated when the treaty dams were built. Columbia Basin residents and local experts were present along the way to share their knowledge of how the treaty affects the region’s ecosystems, agriculture, tourism and community development.

Libby Dam

“The fundamental principle of the treaty must continue to maximize benefits for Canada and the United States, and share them equitably,” said Conroy. “We have more to gain when we listen to and understand each other’s interests, and that’s why this week’s discussions and tour were so important.”

The first round of negotiations between Canada and the United States, regarding the future of the Columbia River Treaty, took place in Washington, D.C., on May 29 and 30.

The next negotiation meetings are scheduled for Aug. 15 and 16, in the B.C. Columbia Basin, followed by meetings on Oct. 17 and 18, in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more information about the Columbia River Treaty.

Lead image: The old Island Hotel at Waldo alongside the Kootenay River. Waldo and great tracts of some of the finest farm land in the East Kootenay was flooded after Montana’s Libby Dam was constructed. image


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