Chief Concerned About First Nations’ Water Rights

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 15:08



A First Nations chief says he worries drastic changes may be coming to the country’s Navigable Waterways Protection Act.


Stan Beardy says the Standing Committee on Transport Infrastructure and Communities wants to change the definition of what “navigable waters” are.


He also says the committee is trying to change the wording of the legislation so that bridges, booms, dams and causeways could be started in certain cases without triggering environmental assessments.


Beardy is concerned these changes would make it easier for large scale projects to proceed in First Nations territories without proper environmental protections.


As well, he says proposed changes would shift the responsibility for conducting these assessments from Ottawa to the First Nations.


Beardy argues many bands lack the financial capacity to do that.


The proposed changes are part of the federal government’s recently-announced economic stimulus plan.