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Implement Senate Navigation recommendations, say environmental groups

  • Published on Jun 17 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: big wild

OTTAWA—The federal government should implement immediately the recommendations of the Senate Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to protect the public right of navigation and maintain environmental protection of waterways say Sierra Club Canada and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“We enthusiastically support the Senate Committee’s findings that regulations should replace the overly discretionary ministerial orders that allow federal permitting and environmental assessment processes to be evaded for specific dams or bridges,” said Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club Canada. “We also support the Senate Committee’s recommendation that Transport Canada develop an effective communications strategy and consultation process, in recognition of the fact that users of waterways—especially First Nations, but also paddlers and environmentalists—were not consulted sufficiently in a timely manner in bringing forward the NWPA amendments”.

"The new Act allows any type of works to be constructed on so called "minor navigable waters" without notice or right of appeal and without respect to the public right of navigation or potential impact on the environment. The government has inappropriately defined such waterways that are in fact navigated by recreational paddlers, hunters and anglers and First Nations," said Jay Morrison, chair of CPAWS’ Right to Paddle Campaign. "The Senate Committee should be congratulated on getting to the bottom of how this flawed legislation could affect millions of Canadians."

“However, we are disappointed that the Senate Committee did not go further and recommend that all of the provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act that harm Canadian navigation rights and waterways be repealed,” said Celeste Côté, national water campaigner for Sierra Club Canada. “The Senate Committee failed to recognize that sustainable development cannot be achieved when federal decision-makers blind themselves to the environment effects of development projects by eliminating environmental assessments.”    

The amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act were among 42 budgetary and non-budgetary provisions included in Bill C-10, the 2009 Budget Implementation Act.

The Report Addressing Bill C-10, Navigable Waters Protection Act was released on June 11, 2009 following hearings held by the Senate Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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For more information, please contact:
Stephen Hazell, SCC Executive Director, 613 724-1908 (cell)
Jay Morrison, Chair, CPAWS Right to Paddle Campaign, 613 731-0336
Celeste Côté, SCC National Water Campaigner, 613 240-3838 (cell)