In the News

Columbia River Treaty negotiations upcoming

May 23, 2018 01:28 pm

Cranbrook, BC, Canada / The Drive FM

A local MLA has been selected as the critic for the Columbia River Treaty file ahead of next week’s negotiations.

Representatives for Canada and the US will meet May 29 to begin negotiations.

Columbia River-Revelstoke’s Doug Clovechok says the historic document has been a good deal for both countries since it was signed in 1964. “Any decision is going to be Canada’s decision. BC has a huge role to play in the renegotiation of this treaty so it’s really exciting to be playing the role I’ll be playing as critic. Obviously I’ll be watching very closely”.

The trans-boundary agreement sets guidelines for flood control and power generation for both sides of the border.

Clovechok says the deal has been good for both sides, but would like to see Canada get a little more out of the pact. “BC receives millions of dollars from this which is great for the programs run by the Columbia Basin Trust. But we store about 50% water capacity for the Americans and that’s likely to increase to about 60% over the next decade.”

The current deal expires in 2024.

– Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok

– Wylie Henderson

Talks to begin with Trump administration on Columbia River Treaty renewal

Abbotsford News, Page , 12-Jun-2018 15:31

By Tom Fletcher

When the B.C. government tried to get talks going on renewing the Columbia River Treaty as it reached its 50th anniversary in 2014, the Barack Obama administration didn’t seem interested.

Now the Donald Trump administration is starting discussions, adding the cross-border flood control and hydroelectric agreement to a group of increasingly hostile actions on trade and relations with Canada.

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy is representing B.C. in the talks between Canada and the U.S., with public meetings underway this week to gauge public expectations in the region that saw valleys flooded and communities abandoned to construct the Duncan, Mica and Keenleyside dams.

Then-energy minister Bill Bennett announced in 2014 that B.C. was extending the treaty another 10 years, then told a conference in Spokane that the U.S. should pay more for the electricity and flood control that comes at the expense of fertile B.C. valleys.

Conroy acknowledges that the U.S. side tends to believe it’s paying too much, with an annual share of half of the electricity value generated downstream. She inherits a deal that did not concern itself with salmon runs, wiped out by a U.S. dam in the 1930s, or the effect the dams would have on the Kootenay fruit growing industry to produce a stable water supply for U.S. fruit and other farming.

“It is one of the best international water agreements in the world,” Conroy said in a legislature debate on the treaty in April. “When it comes to just power and power generation and flood control, it was ahead of its time in 1964. But thank goodness things have changed, because in 1964, they also didn’t consult with anyone in the basin.”

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok questioned Conroy on B.C. and Canada’s position going into discussions, and issues such as samon restoration that have arisen since the treaty was struck.

“The Americans need our water for their agriculture, their wine, their apples and all those sorts of things, and for navigation and shipping,” Clovechok said. “There’s recreational real estate involved here. There are a lot of reservoirs, which very, very wealthy Americans have very large houses around, which they’re concerned about and certainly are lobbying their government, and also industrial water supplies.”

Clovechok said it’s obvious that the U.S. “negotiates from the State Department, not from the governor’s office.”

Conroy declined to comment on Clovechok’s q uestion about whether B.C. is prepared to reduce any downstream benefits from the treaty, except to say that B.C.’s objective is to get “equitable or better benefits.

“I don’t think we did many, many years ago, and I think it’s our turn,” she said.

Copyright 2018 abbotsford

Mine rescue teams put to test in Kimberley

Posted: June 12, 2018

Mine rescue teams from throughout British Columbia came together this past weekend in Kimberley to test their mettle in the 63rd-annual Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition.



Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka with Sullivan mining legend Lorne “Fritz” Fulton, centre, during the Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition. Tom Shypitka photo

“Each and every day, the professional mine safety and rescue personnel at British Columbia’s mines play a critical role in keeping workers safe and making mining one of the safest heavy industries in B.C.,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “Thank you to all of the women and men who participated in this year’s Mine Rescue and First Aid competition, and congratulations to this year’s winners.”


The Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition, held annually since the 1950s, pits teams of mine safety and rescue professionals from around the province against one another in head-to-head competitions involving simulated mine rescue situations.


The competition provides mine rescue teams with an intensive learning opportunity and a chance to test their emergency response capabilities against one another. This annual event ensures that British Columbia’s mine rescue teams are trained to the same high standards, and highlights the B.C. mining industry’s commitment to health-and-safety best practices.


With assistance from a variety of sponsors and volunteers, the Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition, hosted by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, provides an opportunity for teams to practice and showcase their skills, and to learn from one another – knowledge that is vital in real rescue situations.


Through the ongoing co-operative efforts of mine employees, mine management, unions and regulators, mining continues to be one of the safest heavy industries in B.C.


Mine rescue has existed in B.C. to assist in mine emergencies since 1909.


Under the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia, all mines are required to provide emergency response capabilities. This requirement has made the B.C. mining industry a worldwide model for mine rescue practices.


Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition award winners


John T Ryan National Mine Safety Award: New Gold Inc – New Afton Mine (regional winner for BC Yukon metal mines division);


Chief inspectors Award (Team): Orica Sand and Gravel;


Chief inspectors Award (Individual): Kelly Miller;


Underground Mine Rescue:


Best Bench Technician Trophy: Dave Heathfield – Sullivan Mine;

USWA Mine Mill Trophy (Best Underground Coordinator): Travis Murphy, Bruce Jack;

Richard Booth Award (Best written score for Underground Team): New Afton;

Sullivan Cup (Best First Aid by Underground Team): New Afton;

Barry Abbott Memorial Trophy (Best Underground Practical Skills): New Afton;

Best Performance in Underground Smoke: New Afton;

Keith Bracewell Memorial Award (Best Obstacle and Recovery): Silvertip;

Levitt Safety Fire Trophy (Underground): Bruce Jack;

Overall Underground winner: New Afton.


Three Person Miners’ First Aid:


Three Person First Aid (Best three-person team): Line Creek;

Kathy Lofstrom Memorial Trophy (Best three-person coach): Sandy Duncan – Line Creek.


Open Pit Mine Rescue:


Ron Brown Memorial (Best Extrication for Surface Team): Gibraltar;

Maurice Boisse Memorial Trophy (Best Practical Bench Skills): Highland Valley Copper;

Levitt Fire Trophy: Highland Valley Copper;

East Kootenay Mines Industrial Safety Association Trophy (Best Written): Line Creek;

North South Central First Aid Trophy (Best First Aid): Highland Valley Copper;

EKMISA Best Surface Rope Task Sponsored by TNT Work and Rescue – Highland Valley Copper;

HVC Highest non-aggregate points: Highland Valley Copper;

Overall surface mine rescue winner (Highest aggregate Best Overall): Highland Valley Copper.


Vancouver Sun, Page A11, 07-Jun-2018

By Vaughn Palmer

While the B.C. government proposes “tweaking” the Columbia River Treaty in talks with the United States, voices on the American side have raised a more ambitious goal.

“Columbia River Treaty must include cheaper power rates,” was the headline last week in the Tri-City Herald, serving Kennewick, Pasco and Richland in Washington state.

The editorial, marking the start of negotiations on reopening the international treaty, made the argument that existing terms ratified in 1964 are now skewed in favour of Canada.

“We hope our representatives at the table can work out a better deal for U.S. utility companies and customers,” it continued. “While the terms laid out in the original treaty provided mutual benefits for both nations, the deal today gives an unfair advantage to our northern neighbours.”

The view is a common one in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, uniting politicians across the ideological divide.

Here’s Washington Congress member Dan Newhouse, a Republican, greeting the start of negotiations: “I applaud the Trump administration for getting the ball rolling on renegotiating this treaty.

“The Canadian entitlement especially must be updated so that the renegotiated management of the Columbia River proves to be an equitable arrangement that benefits both countries.”

And here’s Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat: “I have been pushing the state department for years to open talks with Canada to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. I’m hopeful these talks will prove fruitful in the effort to make the treaty a better deal for Oregonians and the Pacific Northwest.”

The key, as the Americans see it, the Canadian entitlement, the treaty provision that provides this country with a share of electricity generated in the U.S. B.C. Hydro, which manages the Canadian side of the treaty, re-sells that power at market prices in the U.S. In the current financial year, it is projected to bring in just over $100 million, though in other years the sales have fetched several times as much.

If the Americans reduce or eliminate the entitlement, they would use the power to reduce electricity prices on their side. “It is estimated that our constituents overpay this entitlement by 10 times the reciprocal benefit,” says Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Spokane in Congress.

The reciprocal benefit being B.C. Hydro’s storage of water behind a trio of dams (Keenleyside, Mica and Duncan) on this side of the border. The water is held back during spring to minimize the risk of flooding in the U.S., then released throughout the rest of the year for other purposes downriver, including increased electrical generation.

Notwithstanding the view of Congresswoman Rodgers, the B.C. government view, as noted here Wednesday, is that the electricity entitlement does not begin to compensate the province for the impact of the treaty or the benefits it provides to the U.S.

The valleys that were flooded to make the storage reservoirs are still under water. The communities that were inundated are gone, along with the estimated 2,500 Canadians forced to relocate. And on the benefit front, there’s a healthy spirit of agreement among B.C. politicians as well.

Here’s B.C. Liberal Doug Clovechok, MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke during debate in the legislature on the treaty this spring: “The Americans need our water for their agriculture, their wine, their apples and all those sorts of things – and for navigation and shipping. There’s recreational real estate involved here. There are a lot of reservoirs – which very, very wealthy Americans have very large houses around, which they’re concerned about and certainly are lobbying their government, I’m sure.”

Here’s New Democrat Katrine Conroy, cabinet minister and MLA for Kootenay West, on the water storage part of the treaty, which runs out in 2024: “If there isn’t an agreement prior to 2024, the Americans would have to make effective use of their own storage. Right now if they need something, they phone and we adjust to meet their needs because they bought that (storage).

“They’d have to drain their reservoirs. This is something that they haven’t had to do since the ’60s. There could be issues with the fish. There would be issues definitely with keeping their reservoirs up. The tourist industry would suffer considerably, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen (U.S.) Lake Roosevelt down. It always seems to be at full pool. And it also increases their flood risk.”

On the flood risk, a good slogan for the B.C. contributors to the Canada-U.S. negotiations would be “Remember Vanport.” Once Oregon’s second-largest city, it was destroyed in the 1948 floods on the Columbia.

But the arguments for and against changing the entitlement are complex, relying as they do on the terms of the treaty, how things have unfolded since it was ratified in 1964 and a range of technical considerations on both sides.

One approach that might provide some common ground is a proposal to expand the treaty beyond the 1960s principles of flood control and power generation to include the environmental health of the river.

That would open the door to talks about managing the impact of climate change on the river, restoring salmon runs, and protecting values for public health, recreation and ecosystems on both sides of the river.

Opportunities, yes, but additional complexities as well.

“This effort is not going to be for the faint-hearted,” as Oregon Sen. Wyden said a while back when urging the two countries to get going on modernizing the now 54-year-old treaty. !@COPYRIGHT=© 2018 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.