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Joint statement on the Elk-Kootenay/Kootenai watershed

Province of British Columbia
By Province of British Columbia
March 12th, 2024

George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation; Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; and Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship; have released the following joint statement in response to Canada and the United States writing to the International Joint Commission with a plan for the Elk-Kootenay/Kootenai watershed:

“Improving and protecting water quality has always been a key priority for British Columbia. To date, more than $1.4 billion has been invested in implementing the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, with continued significant investments planned that will roughly double the amount of water-treatment capacity in the Elk Valley by the end of 2027. Through our regulatory activities, we continue to undertake and oversee projects to improve and protect water quality in the Elk-Kootenay/Kootenai watershed.

“B.C. supports the commitment made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden in March 2023. We welcome the joint statement today by the Canadian and American ambassadors that acknowledges the particular complexity of pollution concerns in this watershed and asks the International Joint Commission to convene experts and knowledge holders to conduct transparent and co-ordinated transboundary data and knowledge sharing.

“We have reviewed the proposal for a reference to the International Joint Commission and British Columbia is committed to fully engage in this process. In its proposed role as a neutral facilitator, the International Joint Commission is uniquely positioned to assist in building crucial relationships and trust across this key international watershed. We look forward to collaborating with governments, First Nations and community partners, as we work together to accelerate our joint efforts to enhance and protect water quality in the Elk-Kootenay/Kootenai watershed.

“We welcome the creation of a process that brings together representatives to share progress, validate issues and facts, and gather information in a way that is respectful and inclusive of Indigenous knowledge.

“We have been working with our partners to take a holistic view of this ecosystem and what we need to do to keep it safe. This includes working with First Nations, industry and local governments.

“We see this as an opportunity to build upon existing work and enhance information sharing and transparency to the benefit of the region’s people and ecologically responsible resource development.”

Categories: GeneralIssues

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