In 2009, the federal budget-implementation bill contained changes to the Navigable Waters Act. The one I was most concerned about was the power given to the transport minister to say whether or not any body of water was navigable, regardless of what the body of water was.
The federal minister of transport has reduced the designations of navigable rivers and lakes to some 100 lakes and 62 rivers, while we have 1.5 million to two million in Canada.
The Canadian Oxford dictionary simply defines navigable as affording a passage for ships. However, there are bodies of water that will not allow a "ship" to float upon them, which is the excuse Transport Minister Denis Lebel is using to determine navigable, but which for centuries have been adequate for canoes. Almost all of these unprotected bodies of water now can be built upon, used as tailings ponds for mines, have leaky pipelines over, through or under them, or have toxic substances dumped into them without any requirement of environmental protection.
The only way that B.C. waters can be saved is if the B.C. government steps up to the plate and says. "No way, we must have an environmental assessment first." Fat chance with the B.C. Liberals, though.
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