Nathalie Allard is one of the Ktunaxa Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. She spoke at a recent meeting in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nathalie Allard is one of the Ktunaxa Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. She spoke at a recent meeting in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Canadian and B.C. negotiators at the Columbia River Treaty table with the U.S. government have not hit the hard parts yet, according to the lead of the province’s negotiating team.

“The negotiations have not been heated yet,” Kathy Eichenberger told a public meeting in Nelson on Nov. 13 attended by about 60 people.

“We are exchanging information and data, trying to understand each other’s views and concerns and so far it is cordial, but it is going to get tough. We are not at that point yet though. These first rounds are an opportunity to get comfortable with each other. Things will get more difficult.”

Negotiators from Canada, B.C., and the U.S. have met eight times in the past two years in different locations, most recently hosted by the Ktunaxa Nation.

A sticking point

One of the expected sticking points in the negotiations, according to Eichenberger, will be what is known as the Canadian Entitlement.

That’s a provision of the treaty that sees the U.S. pay Canada half of the value of power generated by Columbia River flows from Canada (about $120 million worth of power annually).

“We have not talked about the Canadian Entitlement yet,” said Lyn Ponniah of Global Affairs Canada, taking part in the meeting by video link.

“The U.S. thinks it is too high,” she said. “But the Canadian team will not accept a deal that does not have value for Canada. By value I mean not just monetary but also taking into consideration all the things we have heard from residents about ecosystem flexibility, salmon introduction, attention being given to climate impacts.”

Protecting ecosystems

Eichenberger implied that one of the other issues that could become contentious might be Canada’s desire for ecosystem flexibility and protection.

“How we use and understand ecosystems are very different on both sides of the border,” she said.

She did not elaborate on this, as on many other issues, because they are all in the process of negotiation and therefore confidential. She acknowledged this is frustrating for members of the public wanting to know what is going on.

Ponniah mentioned two other issues that could become contentious but again did not elaborate.

“We also continued the discussions on flood risk management and hydro power and we are pleased to see progress on these. This is a complex undertaking as both sides grapple with their own unique data. We hope we can find common ground.”

Another potentially difficult issue, not mentioned at the meeting, is drought and decreased river flows in the U.S. because of climate change. This may mean that U.S. municipalities and agriculture will want more of the water stored behind dams in Canada.

A science lesson

Michael Zimmer, a biologist at the Syilx/Okanagan Nation told the meeting what ecosystem function was lost as a result of the treaty dams – huge runs of salmon and steelhead, thousands of miles of streams and tributaries and wildlife habitats they provided, several nursery lakes, and tribes’ consumption of fish.

He discussed progress in planning for salmon re-introduction on both sides of the border and about the extensive research and data collection needed to protect floodplains, forests, wetlands, reservoir ecosystems, and anadromous fish species.

First Nations involvement

Earlier this year the Global Affairs Canada invited representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations to participate as observers in the Canadian delegation at the negotiations. They take part in pre-negotiation meetings and have made presentations to the negotiators on salmon and ecosystems.

Nathalie Allard of the Ktunaxa Nation is one of those observers and attended the Nelson meeting.

“This allows us to regain our ability to meet our own responsibilities,” she said. “So it is very meaningful participation. Round Eight was hosted in my community and I took full advantage of that.

“I brought in the entire elementary school to open the meeting because I wanted to highlight our children because this is my life, not just a job, and I wanted to bring them into this. We are speaking for those who came before us and those yet to come.”

An audience member asked why the Sinixt, declared extinct by the federal government in the 1950s, are not at the table.

Eichenberger said the Colville Tribes in Washington State, which include the Sinixt, are being consulted by the U.S. government in the negotiations, and it could be seen as a conflict of interest if the Sinixt were advising both countries.

“But we do respect the decisions of the B.C. courts,” she said, “and we know they have rights in this region, there is no question, the courts have said so.”

The Nelson meeting was one of a series of such gatherings held throughout the region this fall.

Related:

• First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

• Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

• Columbia River Treaty: What’s on the table?

• COLUMN: A growing thirst south of the border

• COLUMN: Advocating for the Salmon Spirit



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Nathan Matthew is one of the Secwepemc Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty Negotiations. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nathan Matthew is one of the Secwepemc Nation observers in the Columbia River Treaty Negotiations. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Just Posted

City of Armstrong community services manager and chief bylaw officer Warren Smith stands with the new food waste bin and garbage cart to be delivered to eligible residents later this month. (Brooke Hovey photo)
Armstrong changes waste collection system

Residents to be given new bins as part of the new system which goes into effect May 1

By 2050, May will feel more like August, according to Vernon’s Action Climate Plan. The plan says we will have twice as many days above 30 degrees Celsius each summer. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon takes action against climate change

First action plan an important step: Mayor

The administrative headquarters for Central Okanagan Public Schools in Kelowna. (File photo)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at 6 Central Okanagan Schools

The infected individuals are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams

Hallway design for the new Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College. (Contributed)
Okanagan College fundraiser counters pandemic

Health Sciences Centre campaign has raised $2 million in midst of COVID economic slowdown

Single-lane alternating traffic in the 6200 block of Silver Star Road starting Thursday, April 15 at 7:30 a.m. for the installation of water service. (City of Vernon)
Traffic disruptions coming to Vernon’s Silver Star Road

Single-lane alternating traffic to be in effect while work is underway

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A bin of Pinot Gris grapes harvested in the north Willamette Valley rests before being crushed at Ponzi Vineyards. The pomace and lees from these grapes would normally go to waste, but Okanagan-based company Winecrush is changing that. (Photo courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards)
An Okanagan company is crushing wine-making’s sustainability goals

Program utilizes derivatives from the winemaking process, rather than letting them go to waste

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

(Black Press Media File Photo)
No criminal intent in the case of man who approached two children: Kelowna RCMP

“Investigators have determined there was no criminal intent on his part and that he regrets causing the children, their families and the community concern.”

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Salmon Arm Homes for Rent/Sale Etc. is a popular Facebook page used by those with places for rent and people in need of them. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Carpenter building homes in Salmon Arm unable to find place to rent

Property manager says it’s easier to find work in Salmon Arm than a place to live

Most Read