Edition: February 2019
Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee
Feb 7, 2019
The Columbia River Treaty Review process, which occurred between 2012 and 2013, provided a foundation for the discussions currently taking place about the future of the Treaty. One significant outcome of the review was the establishment of the Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee (CBRAC) in 2014.
During the review, Basin residents expressed their desire to provide input on Basin hydroelectricity operations and potential changes to the Treaty. The Province, the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee, and BC Hydro then created CBRAC, a unique, Basin-wide group representing a broad range of perspectives, interests and geography. CBRAC members are citizens from across the Basin, and representatives from Basin Indigenous Nations, BC Hydro, FortisBC, Columbia Power Corporation, Columbia Basin Trust, local, provincial and Canadian federal governments.
The group meets twice a year in person at various locations throughout the Basin, and two to four times per year by phone or webinar. The focus for the first year was to broaden members’ understanding of Basin hydro operations and the Treaty. As CBRAC members became more knowledgeable, they transitioned into their advisory role.
Global Affairs Canada, the lead agency responsible for negotiating treaties with the U.S., frequently attends CBRAC meetings, by phone if not in person, to discuss CBRAC’s input first hand and keep CBRAC updated on Treaty negotiations.
In 2018, CBRAC met prior to the first set of Canada-U.S. negotiation meetings to discuss key principles that could guide negotiations, as well as how to engage the public while negotiations are underway. Sylvain Fabi, lead negotiator for the Canadian negotiating team, attended this meeting in person to engage in these discussions face to face. At past meetings, CBRAC has provided substantial input on enhancing ecosystems throughout the Basin.
CBRAC played a key role in promoting and contributing to the community meetings that were held in 10 Columbia Basin communities in 2018. They also participated in a Pacific Northwest Economic Region tour in July 2018, which brought over 50 U.S. stakeholders to the Canadian Basin to learn more about the Upper Columbia region, and how the Treaty impacts it. During the tour, CBRAC representatives shared their personal experience and professional knowledge, helping to make the tour a great success.
As Treaty discussions continue, CBRAC continues to play a key role, dedicated to enhancing the local perspective on the Treaty’s future, and sharing rich experience and history.
All materials from CBRAC meetings are posted on the Province of B.C.’s Columbia River Treaty website: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty/columbia-basin-regional-advisory-committee/
The next meeting is planned for spring 2019.