Bill C-69 is being pushed through parliamentary Committee hearings at an unprecedented rate. We are worried that parts of this Bill, and especially those related to Navigable Waters, will go without adequate review and improvement. That is why we are calling on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to allocate time for each proposed Act within Bill C-69.
On April 6th, the Canadian Freshwater Alliance provided a written submission to the Committee focussing on amendments to strengthen the proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act.
See the full Canadian Freshwater Alliance submission here.
These four amendments would strengthen the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and truly protect all navigable waters:
- Require the consideration of environmental impacts in all approval decisions.
- Require all projects, non-minor, on all navigable waters to undergo federal approval.
- Track the cumulative impact of all projects (including minor works) via a publicly accessible online registry.
- Enable shared decision-making with Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples on all navigable waters esp. those crossing through their traditional territories.
In February, the federal government introduced Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which proposes changes to Canada’s water, environmental and energy legislation.
When changes to these laws were introduced between 2009 and 2012, navigable waters lost important protections in the form of environmental assessment triggers and federal approval for all developments that could impede navigation.
The new legislation does once again require approval for major works on navigable waters (which is an improvement). But, the Act stops short of protecting the environmental, social, and cultural value of ALL navigable waters. Remember that controversial "Schedule of waters" - a list of 164 water bodies that received protections under the Act? It has survived proposed amendments. Now many developments on waters not listed in the "Schedule" can bypass federal approval by simply issuing a public notice of the intended work. If no public interest is voiced in this period, then a project can proceed with no additional federal approval. It is clear that we can do better for Canada’s iconic waterways.
Please join us and write your elected representative today. Ask them to support these four simple amendments that would deepen protections for ALL of Canada’s navigable waterways.
We have a window over the next few weeks to inspire our elected MPs, and members of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee, to strengthen these laws and stand up for Canada’s iconic waterways.
The Canadian Freshwater Alliance has actively followed environmental law reforms since the first legislative changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act and will continue to engage with the federal government to ensure that the proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act leaves no waters behind.
With the help of people across the country, we identified over 200 waterways of recreational value that were not listed in the Schedule of the Navigation Protection Act. Many of the excluded rivers identified are popular tourism destinations that help stimulate local economies (especially in the North).