Columbia River Treaty Negotiations Status
April 23, 2020
Kathy Eichenberger, Executive Director of the Provincial Columbia River Treaty Team, has shared the following message about how work on the Treaty is proceeding during the COVID-19 pandemic:
As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, work on the Columbia River Treaty continues.
Though the next round of Canada-U.S. negotiations has not yet been scheduled, Canada, B.C. and Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations are collaborating through remote technology to refine Canadian positions and advance ecosystem function work.
The provincial Columbia River Treaty Team is also focused on addressing Treaty-related community interests, finalizing the summary report for last fall’s Columbia Basin community meetings, and exploring new ways of connecting with Basin residents.
Our thanks to all of you who are navigating this challenging time with patience and understanding. We also deeply appreciate the resolve of our Indigenous Nations and federal government partners to keep moving forward with the Treaty modernization process.
The Province remains committed to engaging with Indigenous Nations, local governments and Basin residents on the Treaty and Treaty-related interests. However, we recognize that the main concern for British Columbians right now is the health and safety of their families and communities. With that in mind, a number of public engagement plans for this spring have been postponed and timelines have been shifted.
We will continue providing updates on the B.C. Columbia River Treaty website, Facebook, Twitter, and through our newsletter, the next issue of which will be out in May. We also welcome questions and comments by phone or email. If there comes a time when we need to connect with Basin citizens on specific Treaty-related matters before the current health concerns subside, we will look at ways of doing that remotely, ensuring an inclusive process.
In the meantime, we are staying in touch with the Local Governments’ Committee and the Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee when there is news to share and issues to discuss. Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for the Treaty, is also in regular contact with the B.C. Treaty Team.
Throughout the Province’s public engagement on Treaty matters, we have taken every opportunity to connect with Basin residents face-to-face and to make our presence felt in the communities most affected by the Treaty. While the current situation has made it necessary to put a pause on in-person activities, please know that B.C.’s Columbia River Treaty Team is still here and working hard for the Basin.
On behalf of the B.C. Columbia River Treaty Team, I wish you all good health.
Executive Director of the Provincial Columbia River Treaty Team
March 18, 2020
The ninth round of talks about modernizing the Columbia River Treaty took place in Washington, D.C., on March 11 and 12, 2020. At this latest session, Canada and the U.S. entered a new phase of negotiations.
“The negotiations so far have really been about Canada and the U.S. getting to know each other’s priorities and positions around various things relating to the Treaty,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty. “They are at a point now of getting into the nitty gritty and the details of it all. The conversations are getting more specific and challenging.”
Negotiators advanced their discussion of priorities such as flood-risk management, power generation and ecosystem function. As at the previous two rounds of negotiations, Canadian Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations participated as official observers.
Consistent with the advice of the B.C. Provincial Health Officer, the B.C. public servants who participated in negotiations in Washington, D.C., are self-isolating for 14 days after returning to Canada.
Read a statement from @KatrineConroy at https://news.gov.bc.ca/21793
The next round of negotiation meetings will be scheduled in the near future.
February 6, 2020
The United States Department of State has advised that next round of Columbia River Treaty negotiations will take place on March 11 and 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C. This will be the ninth round of talks since Canada and the U.S. began discussions on modernizing the Treaty in May 2018. The last round was held in ?aq’am, near Cranbrook, B.C., in September 2019.
September 16, 2019
Canadian and U.S. negotiators returned to the B.C. Columbia Basin last week for two days of meetings in ?aq’am, near Cranbrook, to discuss the future of the Columbia River Treaty.
On behalf of the Canadian delegation, the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx/Okanagan Nations made a presentation on ecosystem goals and objectives in the Canadian Columbia Basin, as well as on the collaboration between Indigenous, provincial and federal governments on exploring the reintroduction of salmon in the Upper Columbia. At this meeting, the U.S. delegation was joined by expert advisers representing U.S. Tribes, who provided expertise regarding the extensive ecosystem work that the U.S. has undertaken in the basin, including transboundary efforts.
Building on previous meetings, negotiators discussed issues related to ecosystem co-operation, flood-risk management and hydro power. To read a news release on the latest round of negotiations, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/20602.
The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in the United States on Nov. 19 and 20, 2019.
June 24, 2019
Negotiators representing Canada (including British Columbia) and the United States returned to Washington, D.C. on June 19 and 20, 2019 to continue discussions on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. This was the first meeting where Canadian Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations participated as official observers, following Foreign Affairs Canada’s historic announcement in April.
During this round of meetings, negotiators took stock of the progress that has been made since negotiations began in May 2018, and continued discussions on flood risk management, power and adaptive management.
The next round of negotiation meetings will return to the Columbia Basin, taking place in Cranbrook, B.C., September 10 and 11, 2019.
To read a statement on the latest round of negotiations from Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/20079.
Indigenous Nations to participate as observers at Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiations
April 26, 2019
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, has announced that representatives of the Ktunaxa, Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations will now participate as observers at the Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiations.
Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, expressed her strong support for this decision: “Our government applauds Canada’s inclusion of Indigenous Nations in the Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Indigenous Nations have been collaborating with the governments of B.C. and Canada on negotiation positions and strategies, and now the relationship has been strengthened. This is an important and unprecedented step in demonstrating our commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to our journey towards reconciliation.”
April 12, 2019
On April 10 and 11, 2019, negotiators representing Canada (including British Columbia) and the United States met in Victoria B.C. for the latest round of discussions on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. The two-day session marked the first time that negotiators have met in B.C.’s capital since negotiations began last year. Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, welcomed the negotiating teams with an opening address on the first day.
Negotiators continued discussions on flood-risk management and hydro power co-ordination. Canada also raised the topics of other Treaty benefits and adaptive management. The negotiators have agreed to conduct technical work between negotiating rounds, to support the progress of discussions.
The next round of negotiation meetings will take place in in Washington, D.C., on June 19 and 20, 2019.
To read Minister Katrine Conroy’s statement on this week’s meetings visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/19425
February 28, 2019
On Feb. 27 and 28, 2019, negotiators representing Canada (including British Columbia) and the United States met in Washington, D.C., to continue discussions on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. These meetings continue a process that began in May 2018 in Washington, D.C. and was followed by further negotiation sessions in Nelson, B.C., Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C.
Building on the work done at previous meetings, negotiators advanced the discussions on potential paths forward on flood risk management and hydropower co-ordination through frank conversations regarding operations and benefits. The next round of negotiation meetings will take place in Victoria, B.C. April 10-11.
To read a statement on the latest negotiation meetings from Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/19076
December 14, 2018
Negotiators representing Canada (including B.C.) and the United States convened for their fourth meeting in Vancouver, B.C. December 12 – 13, to resume discussions on modernization of the Columbia River Treaty. Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, issued this statement, summarizing this year’s activities.
Discussions on the future of the treaty will resume in early 2019, when negotiators return to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27 and 28, 2019.
October 31, 2018
In May, 2018, negotiators representing the governments of Canada (including British Columbia) and the United States met in Washington, D.C., to formally launch discussions about the future of the Columbia River Treaty. In August, a second session took place in Nelson, British Columbia, and the third session took place in Portland, Oregon, during the month of October. The next session is scheduled for December 12 and 13 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, issued this statement following the most recent meeting in Portland.
In June 2018, the Province relaunched its engagement with the public on the treaty through a series of community meetings. These took place in Meadow Creek, Jaffray, Creston, Castlegar, Nelson, Valemount, Revelstoke, Golden and Nakusp. The meetings provided an update on treaty negotiations with the U.S.; a summary of work B.C. and Canada have been doing to prepare for negotiations; a review of the input received during the Province’s 2012-2013 Public Consultation; and a discussion on priority issues that should be included in treaty negotiations. Common priorities included: ecosystem restoration; agriculture, recreation, and tourism enhancement; the value of flood control; the importance of First Nation involvement in negotiations; and the desire for broader community engagement, especially focusing on youth. A full report of these meetings is scheduled to be released later this year.
Following the August negotiation sessions in Nelson, Minister Conroy said, “I am optimistic and know that collaboration between our two countries is the key to future success. Working together, I’m confident that we can create a better treaty, and ensure it continues to maximize benefits for Canada and the U.S., while sharing them equitably.”
May 22, 2018
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, announced today that Canada and the United States will launch negotiations on May 29, 2018, to renew the Columbia River Treaty. Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, issued a statement in support of this announcement.
The U.S. Department of State has also issued a press release announcing the start of negotiations.
April 25, 2018
Negotiations between Canada and the United States on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty are expected to begin this Spring or Summer.
The Governments of BC and Canada have been working closely together, in consultation with Indigenous Nations and local governments, to prepare for these upcoming negotiations.
In March 2014, following extensive Indigenous Nations consultation and community engagement, and after conducting a number of technical studies, the Government of British Columbia announced its decision to continue the Columbia River Treaty and seek improvements within the existing framework. This decision is supported by the Government of Canada.
In December 2013 the U.S. Entity delivered its final recommendations to the U.S. Department of State. In the fall of 2016, the U.S. Department of State completed its review of the final recommendations and decided to proceed with negotiations to modernize the Treaty.