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Stetski makes good on Columbia River Election Promise

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 15th, 2016

Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski has delivered on a commitment that he made during the 2015 election. 

Stetski pledged that if elected he would support and advocate for regulations  to keep high-powered motorized boats off the main stem of the Columbia River between Invermere and Golden, as well as the main stem of the river near Fairmont Hot Springs.

The 20HP restriction also known as a Regulation Amending the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations (VORR) has been discussed in the Columbia Valley for over ten years, and is well supported by communities and local governments.

The process to move the regulations forward was stalled under the Conservative government, waiting for approval from Transport Canada.  

“We have an opportunity to enhance the safety of navigation and minimize threats to a unique and globally recognized ecosystem,” said Stetski.

“This is a conversation that has been happening in communities along the Columbia River for a long time, and I am very pleased to report back to them that the ministry has responded to my request and has taken the steps to continue to move this initiative forward.”

In February Stetski wrote the Minister responsible asking him to re-start the process. On April 2, the Ministry of Transportation published the proposed regulation in the Canada Gazette, allowing for a 30-day public comment period.  The regulations would not impact motorized use of Columbia Lake or Lake Windermere.

The recent steps taken by Transport Canada have been well received by local governments and environmental groups. 

“From an environmental and recreational perspective these regulations would be positive for our community and the river north of here,” said Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft.

Wildsight works locally, regionally and globally to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable communities in Canada’s Columbia and Rocky Mountain regions, said Columbia Wetlands are the source of the largest river flowing into the Pacific Ocean in North America — the mighty Columbia.

The rich ecosystem forms the life support system for hundreds of thousands of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Without regulation, there would likely be habitat degradation and negative impacts on nesting waterfowl, like the great blue heron, species extremely sensitive to even minor disturbance.

“This regulation will add another important layer of long-term protection for the Columbia Wetlands ecosystem,” says Robyn Duncan, Executive Director of Wildsight in a media release.

“We must act now to keep this wild legacy intact into the future. We encourage everyone who cherishes the upper Columbia River and Wetlands to send in their comments in support of this regulation.”

“I am pleased that MP Stetski is taking action on this initiative and the process is moving forward again.”

“The lakes and rivers in our region our integral to our environment, economy and way of life,” said Stetski.

“I am committed to continue working with the communities of Kootenay-Columbia and the federal government to protect our water systems.”

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