The Review sat down with Doug Clovechok, Liberal MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke earlier this week to catch up on provincial government happenings. We have edited his responses for length and clarity.
Do you have any updates for us on the progress of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations?
I have the great fortune of being the critic on that file. We’re up for negotiations with the Americans on the CRT deal. It’s one of the most successful trans boundary water agreements in the world. People benchmark what we’ve done with this thing. Negotiations are going on right now. The CRT was devised for two specific reasons: power generation and flood mitigation in the United States. The United States cannot not have this. What we do at the headwaters is going to have an effect downstream. I made that case to the ministry and they agreed. Everybody believes we have to protect our water, because eventually we’re going to need that water. But the Americans are so thirsty for our water, not only for drinking, but power. Here comes the kicker. In the treaty, there’s Canadian entitlement. We get 50 per cent of the electricity generated in the U.S. sent back to us and basically we re-sell it back to them. They want that changed. If I was at the table, I’d say we could look at that. But what we didn’t negotiate into the treaty in 1964 was the downstream things, such as agriculture, transportation, recreation, and fish. We have to remember it wasn’t our dams that stopped the salmon. It was their dams. The treaty is up in 2024. Nobody wants it to go. And Mr. Trump hasn’t got involved yet. Yet. We’ll see.
Some projects have happened at Three Valley Gap, how are they progressing?
When I went to estimates and estimates are opportunities where you get to question budgets. I went after Horgan himself for 45 minutes. I went after him on Three Valley Gap and finally got him to recognize. I actually passed a picture of that huge boulder that came down and Shannon Smith’s wrecked car. That’s never been done in the house before. You can’t have props. I said you you got to look at this. At the end of the day, we were able to get some stuff done at Three Valley Gap. I’m really proud of that. I’m proud of the people in Revelstoke because we had almost a 1,000 letters. That’s the power of the people. When I sat down with Horgan at estimates I had those letters with me. I picked them up and showed them. You can’t ignore almost a 1,000 people. And he agreed he would do something. As a result somethings have happened. They have the two interlocking walls, they are completed and done. They’ve dug out the ditches and put in these concrete structures. When those rocks fall down they will be held. At least, that’s the theory. It’s a pilot project. And all the netting. The netting fluctuates. The avalanches won’t effect it. It’s pretty cool. They should last for a long time. I hate the word band-aid, so I won’t use it. This is something to protect people, but there has to be a longer term solution. I don’t know what that is but we’re working with them on it.
The province is in the process of working on a Caribou Recovery Program, what are your thoughts on the progress?
People that live in the mountains, live here for a reason. We love what we have. We love to recreate. Caribou are incredibly important. There’s three left where I live. I don’t think they’ll survive. Whether they’ll be moved I don’t know. When you’ve got people’s livelihood at risk because of an endangered species we’ve got to look at this and it’s got to be a balanced approached. But when you’ve got a government that won’t talk to the people about this that’s very distressing for me. We met with the snow mobilers and quaders this morning from Revelstoke and decisions to close trails were done arbitrarily without any public consultation. This is not a dictatorship. People have to have input on these decisions. This province is in need of a comprehensive wildlife monitoring program that is runs independently of government. Like the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. The government shouldn’t be managing wildlife.
Are there any other issues that constituents have brought up lately?
Invasive species, especially around aquatic mussels. This has a potential of being a national crisis. In Ontario they’re there. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C., we still haven’t found them. We’ve got to have a more comprehensive plan and strategy. Having the checking stations are great. But if you’re coming across the border into Canada, you need to have that boat secured at the border. Or you’re not coming in. We need to be telling people more about this. The damage those things can do. It’s ridiculous. We have the dam here, Revelstoke 6 is going to go in and produce more power but these things could shut that thing down. It’s a big deal.