Act Now: No Waters Left Behind

In 2012, changes to federal laws protecting navigable waters stripped oversight for developments on 99% of lakes and rivers. In February 2018, Bill C-69 proposed changes to the Navigation Protection Act. While an improvement, the Act stops short of restoring lost legal protections for all navigable waters. Make sure the call is heard that people across Canada want: no waters left behind

 

 

No Waters Left Behind

The federal Government has proposed a fix to the Navigation Protection Act in Bill C-69 but comes short of restoring lost legal protections. By defending your right to navigate Canadian waters, you help protect the flow of waters.  

Write a letter to your local papers to show that people in your community want the environmental, social, and cultural value of ALL navigable waters protected! Make sure your home waters, lakes, and rivers aren’t left behind.

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Nahanni River of Forgiveness: An epic journey, a story of reconnection and reconciliation

This piece is a guest blog by Geoff Bowie, director and co-producer of the Nahanni River of Forgiveness Documentary. The Nahanni River currently lacks protections as a navigable water that is excluded from the schedule of the Navigation Protection Act. 

A large hand-made boat of moose skin and spruce surges through the white water of the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories.  Dene men and women work the oars and rudder, remaking a historic journey through a wild and sacred landscape. Nahanni River of Forgiveness is about climbing out of the ashes of colonialism to build a bonfire of hope for equality, respect, and protection of the earth.

For centuries, the Dene way of life has stood as an example of sound principles of conservation and protection of wildlife and natural habitat.  The Dene have been subsistence hunters for thousands of years. Their survival depended on it. Today, they want their children and grandchildren to be able to continue these cultural practices for millennia to come.  Unpolluted lakes, rivers, and wetlands are highly valued. This resource is essential for birds and other wildlife to flourish – wildlife that has sustained the Dene through time.

Dene principles and values recognize equality with the land and all living things and extend personal and collective responsibility to protecting the land for future generations. These values have been taught for generations.

 

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Groundwater dis-contents: BC water savings could dry up

 

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Groundwater dis-contents

Before you make a big purchase, you want to know how much money is in your bank account (I hope it’s flush in there). Groundwater is like an underground bank account, yet we currently manage it with a blindfold on. We lack a full understanding of how much we have or how withdrawals affect the health of our surface rivers, lakes and streams.

Over 1 million British Columbians depend on clean, fresh flow of wells, aquifers and underground rivers, and this number is growing. Stored groundwater could be a critical part of adapting to a new reality of water insecurity that comes with extreme weather, reduced snowmelt and receding glaciers. Now more than ever, we need a balanced water table to ensure we don’t become the next California or Cape Town. 

Across BC watersheds, fresh water—the foundation of the province’s ecosystems, communities, and economies—is under growing pressure. Climate change and shifting hydrological conditions are rapidly ushering British Columbia into an increasingly uncertain water future. - POLIS (2016) Top Five Water Challenges

Although BC’s most powerful water law is priming water managers to do a better job than ever before to account for and manage groundwater judiciously, a scan of recent events across our province suggests that inadequate knowledge and a lack of regulation continue to allow for the depletion of this precious asset.

Recently, K’ómoks First Nation and the community of Merville in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island were caught off guard by an approved application to withdraw groundwater from their local aquifer. A conditional water licence was issued by the Province of BC to allow the extraction of up to 10,000 litres of freshwater per day for a commercial bottling operation. This is like issuing a stack of pre-written cheques to withdraw daily from a bank account without knowing the balance.

 

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We're hiring!

We're hiring in Ontario and BC! Come join our fabulous summer outreach team. We have two summer student positions in London, Ontario and one in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

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Floods in Canada: On the Rise

This blog is the first of a 3-part series on flooding in Canada.


It’s springtime in Canada. For many, spring brings a sense of relief that the cold, short days are behind us and gratitude for the warm sun on our skin and the sweet fragrance of blossoming trees. However, this contentment may also be marred with ambivalence: worry that the wet days of spring may precipitate flooding. 

And flooding it is. It’s only early May and already there’s flooding in the east and flooding in the west.

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Does Bill C-69 impede science by fogging the link between the environment and navigable waters?

Want to take action to defend freshwater? Write your MP and the parliamentary committee before amendments are finalized. 

It is often said that water knows no political boundaries. The same waters that float a canoe, provide water for deer to drink, and for fish to swim. However, the political pen can fail to account for the full value of rivers.

Truth has become an elusive commodity in the era of “fake news”. What used to be scientific fact is now open to speculation. This trend has extended to Canada’s federal environmental laws - in particular to protecting the public’s right of navigation and navigable waters. Navigation safety requires protection from physical obstructions in the water, but also from the dumping of harmful substances, or the dewatering of navigable waters. Federal decisions about projects obstructing navigation would impact the physical, biological, and chemical function of water flows. The link between the environment and navigable water protections should not be up for dispute.

Water quality affecting the safety of a paddler will no doubt impact wildlife. One need not look far to find examples. The Boreal Caribou are a threatened species whose habitat has been put at risk by human land-use and climate change. Their populations have declined across Canada as the construction of linear developments force their migration further north. Caribou have been called the “canary in the coal mine” of Canada’s boreal ecosystems. Coincidentally, the Reindeer River in northern Saskatchewan, along with many of Canada’s northern rivers, is also threatened by unregulated development.

 

 

 

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