I just got word from friend of the site, Tony Palmer of Undercurrents, a paddling shop in Calgary. He made me aware an incoming issue that affects all Canadian paddlers.
announced earlier this May to stakeholders their intention to review the
Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). For those who didn't know this act
exists, it is one of the oldest pieces of federal legislation; passed in 1882.
The NWPA recognizes the public right to navigation in
Canadian waters and make sure that companies who are building projects that
would block navigation on waterways to obtain proper approval from the Minister
including an environmental assessment.
is proposing to make seven changes to the act; several of which would
dramatically alter your right to free passage along our waterways.
Two of the major changes that will affect recreational
paddlers are the adjustments of the term "navigable waters" to exclude "minor
waters" as well as amending the definition of the term "work" to explicitly
exclude "minor works".
This would have a huge impact on Canadian rivers because it
would allow easier development of small dams, bridges and roads along small
rivers since companies would not need to go through the same approval and
assessment process which currently includes a strict environmental assessment.
has not hinted yet what they mean by "minor waters" but it is clear that it
will create a two-tier system across Canada. Paddling Routes with larger
bodies of water will keep the same standards but smaller (and more remote)
routes will be open to more development.
What can you do about it? Well, you first need to get
educated then you need to contact your MP to let them know how you feel.
Below are a couple of resources to get you started.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper - Right to Navigation Under Review
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and
Communities Speaking Notes and Letter to Stakeholders
List of Canadian MP's