Canadians Right to Navigation under Review - Time to Act Now

Thursday, 29 May 2008
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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.

Transport Canada 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...
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.

Transport Canada 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.

Transport Canada 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.

Transport Canada 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.

Get Informed
Transport Canada
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper - Right to Navigation Under Review
Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Speaking Notes and Letter to Stakeholders

Take Action
List of Canadian MP's
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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