Columbia River Treaty

Edition: May 2019

Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee Meets Near the Headwaters of the Columbia River

May 30, 2019

The Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee (CBRAC) gathered for its latest meeting in Invermere, B.C. on April 15 and 16. CBRAC holds its meetings in different locations throughout the Basin, and was pleased to meet, for the first time, near the headwaters of the Columbia River.

Keeping with tradition, CBRAC began the two days by embarking on a field trip, to learn more about the area as related to the Columbia River Treaty and Basin hydroelectric operations. They toured a nearby 315-acre conservation property on the east side of Columbia Lake, known as Lot 48. The property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), with support from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and others, as one element of a broader initiative to conserve ecologically significant lands throughout the Columbia Basin. NCC and CBT representatives led the tour and spoke about the restoration efforts taking place on the property, while representatives of the Akisqnuk First Nation and the Shuswap Band provided information on the historical and cultural significance of this land to Indigenous people.

After the tour, CBRAC kicked off its meeting with an update on the most recent round of Columbia River Treaty negotiations, which had been held the week prior in Victoria, B.C. Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s Lead Negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, and Kathy Eichenberger, the Province of B.C.’s representative on the Canadian negotiating team, provided the update, engaging in honest conversation with CBRAC, answering their questions and hearing their comments. Greg Utzig of Kutenai Nature Investigations Ltd., and Technical Advisor to the Upper Columbia Environmental Collaborative, delivered a complementary presentation on adaptive management, further explaining the concept and how it is an important approach for ensuring a healthy ecosystem.  

During the next two days CBRAC received informative updates on BC Hydro operations, B.C.’s 2019 Columbia River Treaty Public Engagement Plan, and the work of the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee. 

The meeting also provided an opportunity for CBRAC members to comment on feedback received during the Province’s 10 community meetings, which were held across the Columbia Basin in 2018.  To further this discussion, two CBRAC members delivered presentations on how the Treaty has impacted their respective regions, the Kinbasket Reservoir, and Koocanusa Agriculture Sector, and how those impacts could be addressed.

One of the common themes heard from Basin residents throughout the 2018 community meetings was to recognize what was lost as a result of the Treaty dams, and enhance what remains. CBRAC was asked how that acknowledgement could happen, and who the acknowledgement needs to come from. Some of their suggestions included preserving history in local museums, including stories in school educational programs, and creating a documentary about the impacts for future generations. The Province will continue to explore how acknowledgement can be done in a way that is meaningful to the people of the Basin. The Province has also committed to “enhancing what remains” and will seek to address the issues raised by Basin residents either within the Treaty or outside of it.

The meeting wrapped up with a reflection on CBRAC’s priorities for the next two years, and a round-table of closing comments. CBRAC members continue to be encouraged by the level of discussion at these meetings and appreciate the diversity of people and perspectives in the room. Special appreciation was shared with the Indigenous representatives at this meeting for bringing their perspectives. The negotiators were also thanked for taking the time to attend in person. As one CBRAC member said, “I am coming away with a confidence that the [Canadian negotiating] team is taking the information [discussed here] and will consider it.”  Materials from this meeting, and past CBRAC meetings, are located on the CBRAC webpage.

CBRAC meets several times a year to receive updates about the Columbia River Treaty and provide advice on issues related to the Treaty and Columbia Basin hydro operations.

You can learn more about CBRAC at the Columbia River Treaty website


The B.C. Public Service acknowledges the territories of First Nations around B.C. and is grateful to carry out our work on these lands. We acknowledge the rights, interests, priorities, and concerns of all Indigenous Peoples - First Nations, Métis, and Inuit - respecting and acknowledging their distinct cultures, histories, rights, laws, and governments.

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