Navigating Canadian Waters

I wish to share information with constituents regarding the changes proposed to the Navigable Waters Protection Act in Bill C-45. 
As a Kelowna city councillor for nine years, I can tell you that these changes have been a long time coming and are being welcomed by local governments across the country, lessening their frustrations due to delays and cost overruns.  As a news release issued by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in support of the legislation noted, “Municipal leaders have consistently called for common sense reforms in Ottawa that deliver better results for Canadians. We look forward to working with the federal government to turn the reforms announced today into a strong, sensible action plan that strengthens our communities, and protects our waterways and the environment.”
The changes are based not only on recommendations from local governments but also on recommendations from a 2008 report by the all-party Standing Committee on Transport, which held consultations with the public to determine how best to proceed with the modernization of the Act, taking into consideration economic and environmental concerns by the public, local and provincial governments.
Already in 2009, changes were made to the Act, introducing the implementation of the Minor Works and Waters (NWPA) Order.  The Order enabled low risk works, such as foot bridges across streams and culverts in ditches, to be pre-approved under the Act. 
As the government has pointed out, the Navigable Waters Protection Act is one of Canada’s oldest pieces of legislation, dating from 1882 at a time when our waterways were Canada’s primary transportation routes.  The Act’s main purpose was then, and is still, to facilitate trade and commerce by balancing the efficient movement of maritime traffic with the need to construct works (e.g., bridges) that might obstruct navigation, in order to encourage economic development.
Over time however, the scope and application of the Act has significantly expanded and today the Act applies to all waters in Canada that can float a canoe including ditches, brooks, streams and fields temporarily flooded in spring.  The volume of applications for approval is so large that there are inevitable backlogs, delaying essential infrastructure projects by months and even years.
In line with the Government of Canada’s commitment to returning to streamlining the regulatory process and encouraging long-term economic growth and job creation, the proposed amendments to the Act not only usher in a risk-based approach to the regulation of works and obstruction and build on the 2009 amendments, but seize the opportunity to create a modern, robust, and flexible legislative scheme that is effectively responsive to the needs of Canada in the future.  They re-focus the scope and application of the legislation to better balance the efficient movement of marine traffic with the need to construct works, such as bridges, wharfs and transmission lines.
The proposed amendments to the Act will:
  • Create a modern risk based regulatory regime;
  • Clearly define the major waterways upon which regulatory approval is required prior to the placement or construction of a work and relies on the common law to protect navigation in non-listed waterways
  • Expand the minor works first introduced in 2009, allowing even more low risk works (such as docks and boathouses) to be pre-approved because they pose very little impact on safe navigation;
  • Allow proponents of works in unlisted waters (such as municipalities, provinces and other builders) to opt-in and seek approval of their proposed work to give them additional legal certainty
  • Change the name to the Navigation Protection Act to reflect the Act’s historic intent.
The list of major water waterways is focused. Those placed on the list support busy commercial or recreational activity, are accessible by ports and marinas, and are often close to heavily populated areas. Nautical charts compiled by the Canadian Hydrographic Services, reliance on historical data from the Navigable Waters Protection Program as well as Statistics Canada numbers related to freight movement on Canadian waterways were used to compile the list. 
Under our common law tradition, we have consistently protected navigation in Canada’s waterways, and we will continue to do so in both listed and unlisted waters.
I can assure constituents that under this modernized legislation, Canadian waters will continue to be protected by Transport Canada’s marine safety laws, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and various provincial statutes. 
Should you have any questions regarding this issue or any other federally-related matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at [email protected] or by calling 250 470-5075.
The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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