By Sheri Regnier
The Columbia River has a new watchdog to guard the future of its southerly flow.
Katrine Conroy has been appointed opposition critic for the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) review after an NDP post-election reshuffle of duties.
“I asked Adrian (Dix) for the job because I think it is a really important issue in our region,” said Conroy. “We need to have a designated person from the Kootenay area who will make sure that we are represented in talks with the local and provincial government committees.
“I think things need to change,” she added. “Let’s face it, the treaty decimated our agricultural industry, and impacted tourism and recreation. This time we need to have terms that benefit us in all areas.”
The position also assigns Conroy responsibility to oversee Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) operations and Columbia Power.
These duties previously fell under the umbrella of BC NDP’s Energy Critic, John Horgan, but Dix decided “it would be better to have a Kootenay person,” explained Conroy.
The CRT review began in 2011 with a series of public consultations and commitment from the Local Governments’ Committee, with support from CBT, to provide an opportunity for residents to understand the impact of the CRT, and this time around, maybe have a say in its terms.
“The first time around in the ‘60s, the government came around and said this is what’s happening,” said Conroy.
During that time, impacts regarding the long-term social and economic impacts to the local communities on both sides of the border, and the environmental effects associated with the construction and operation of large dams were not taken into consideration.
The CRT is an international water management agreement between the United States and Canada that was signed in 1964.
Although the treaty was signed without a specific termination date, a minimum length of 60 years (2024) was agreed upon. However, the treaty states that either country may terminate the agreement by providing a minimum of 10 years advance, written notice.
Conroy will also continue her role as the seniors and senior health critic.