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Local Governments Committee

Local governments within the Basin have formed the BC Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee to actively and meaningfully engage in decisions around the future of the Treaty.

Through the Committee, Basin local governments are working together to seek refinements to the Treaty and to address existing domestic issues to improve the quality of life for Basin residents. We are very grateful to the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and the Province for ongoing funding for our work.

Image: Kinbasket Reservoir in Spring Drawdown

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The Columbia River Treaty (Treaty) was ratified by Canada and the United States (the U.S.) in 1964, resulting in the construction of three dams in Canada – Mica Dam north of Revelstoke; Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar; and Duncan Dam north of Kaslo – and Libby Dam near Libby, Montana, which creates Koocanusa reservoir that floods 68 kilometres into BC.

Since 1964 the Treaty has provided benefits for the Pacific Northwest region in the U.S. and in BC. However, here in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River Basin (the Basin) – the area that was most impacted by the Treaty – substantial sacrifices were made by residents during the creation of the dams and reservoirs, and impacts continue as a result of hydro operations.

Beginning in 2024, either the U.S. or Canada can terminate substantial portions of the Treaty, with at least 10 years’ prior notice. This prompted the BC government – as the level of government with the responsibility to implement the Treaty – and the U.S. to conduct separate reviews, beginning in 2011, to consider whether to continue, amend or terminate the Treaty.

The outcome of both reviews was to negotiate a modernized Treaty, not to terminate. Canada, as the level of government responsible for international treaties, began negotiations with the U.S. in 2018. The province of British Columbia, which implements the treaty, is a key player in this work, along with basin Indigenous Nations.