Navigable Waterways At Risk Letters Needed

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Glen Smith
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Location: Baie-St-Paul, Quebec, Canada

Navigable Waterways At Risk Letters Needed

Post by Glen Smith » Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:25 pm

Hey Everyone:
The Canadian Federal Government is considering revising the Navigable Waterways Protection Act (NWPA). I know, this sounds dreadfully boring, but this is really crucial to the future well being of our lakes and rivers. I’ve been told that the hearings for the NWPA have finished and I have also learnt that all presenters at the hearings with one exception argued for the removal of your and my rights. This bill will probably be tabled in the House in the fall.

Very briefly, and in a nutshell the NWPA law of 1882 states that all navigation has to be considered before any development can occur in a navigable waterway. If it is found that navigation will be inhibited then an Environmental Assessment is automatically triggered before permission for development is granted. Proposed changes to the definition of a navigable waterway will mean that many of our favourite rivers and streams will not be considered navigable waterways and thus not fall under the protection of the act, leaving them open to possible development without an automatic environmental assessment. It also means that our traditional “right of navigation” in small watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rafts, even motor boats) is taken away and no assessment of impacts on navigation would be required for any projects on those waterways.

I think that this is really important. Here are three things you can do:

1. (I've included a sample letter below) Please write a letter to all the members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) because they need to be told they should not do away with our rights. This is essential for a whole range of environmental, social and economic reasons for Canada’s unique waterways. The recommendations for the re-writing of the NWPA is happening soon so please send an email to the list below as soon as possible. They will have to consider the public's input if they receive enough letters.

2. Attend the "Vigil for Rivers" on Parliament Hill Sunday June 8th at 7pm. If you live near Ottawa please come to this important Canadian Rivers Day gathering in support of rivers and to protest the NWPA changes. I'll be saying a few words along with others.

3. Pass the information along to others.

Make some changes or write your own letter and send to Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN)
because I'm told they are the ones making the final decision. Please CC the emails I've included too. Be creative in your subject heading **************************************************************

Send to

C.C. John Baird (Minister of Environment) Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Transportation) Loyola Hearn (Minister of Fisheries & Oceans) Dave Osbaldeston (National Manger responsible for the NWPA)
Find your MPs email at

Dear: Members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities,

I am writing to tell you of my concern for the future of our Canadian Heritage Navigation Rights when travelling our Canadian waterways in small craft. I was very upset to learn that your hearings are over concerning the removal of my rights from the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). I have learnt that all presenters at the hearings with one exception argued for the removal of my rights. This was not an adequate opportunity for public input or response. I think it is unacceptable and short-sighted to have not consulted the people, organizations and businesses involved in navigation in Canada so that they might have a say in this important issue at your hearing. Like many other Canadians I have numerous concerns about potential losing my Navigation Rights.

I think that our navigable waterways are magnificent treasures that should be managed with the public's input. I am informed that the hearings conducted listened to the one sided view of the presenters that want to do away with a part of our traditional Canadian Heritage. Please you need to listen to the other views of our people in our great land of water too. Our country was first explored and mapped by our First Nations and then European fore-fathers navigating in canoes and small craft. The proposed changes to the NWPA are premature and faulty because of the lack of public consultation! I believe that having public input is key to strengthening the protection of the future of our waterways.

I strongly urge you to not recommend the elimination of Navigation Rights for small water craft because I want to retain my right to be able to trigger an Environmental Assessment if we, the public, want one. This would ensure that all environmental, social and economic concerns are addressed before development can occur in sensitive waterway areas. I would also like you to consider the ramifications of allowing this proposed precedent setting elimination of our rights and the message it seems to be saying: that most of our waterways could be open for development if the NWPA is rewritten to exclude the Navigation Rights for small water craft. And I assure you that this is a message that the majority of Canadians will not be pleased to hear.


(Your Name and mailing address)


If you need more information please contact:

Doug Skeggs
Director of River Protection
Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa


Celeste Côté,
National Water Campaigner, Sierra Club Canada

or me
Becky Mason and I can forward you along to someone

Complete contact information can be found here about the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) ... &COM=13202

Complete contact information on the C.C.s can be found here
Mervin Tweed ... Language=E

The Honourable John Baird ... Language=E

Dave Osbaldeston ... &x=51&y=14

Becky Mason

Becky Mason and Reid McLachlan Chelsea, Quebec, Canada

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Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Bancroft, Ontario

Post by Rick » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:51 am

Thanks for posting this, Glen. The right to paddle our rivers and lakes freely is essential in our history and landscape. The feds should recognize this and if development plan reviews are being slowed down, more civil servants should be hired on. The feds are swimming in money anyway, from the oil, gas and mineral exploitation that's going on... there shouild be plenty of tax dollars available to enable protection where it's needed.

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Location: Saskatoon, SK

Post by pawistik » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:32 am

The changes to the NWPA were "dropped" when the parliament was dissolved last fall. After the election, it was suggested that the changes had really been dropped. However, the proposed changes (dewatering of the NWPA) have now been reintroduced and are currently included together with the "Budget Implementation Act."

If you have concerns about the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, then write a letter to your MP or members of the Parliamentary committee for Transport Infrastructure and Communities and the Finance Committee.

Don't delay, the budget is now before the House of Commons and is expected to be decided upon this week.

For more information and to find out why folks are concerned, visit

Cheers & thanks for your attention,
Bryan Sarauer

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