The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources recently reported on the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
The executive summary of their report states:
1-The Act protects the public right of navigation by regulating works over waterways such as bridges, dams and docks in order to minimize the overall impact on navigation.
2-The Act plays a wider role beyond protecting the right of navigation because the navigational approval process can trigger environmental assessments.
3-The committee recognizes that the Ministerial Order (of May 9, 2009) was used to speed up the rule making process in order to meet short term economic goals. However, now that the minor works and waters criteria have been created, the committee recommends that the federal government develop regulations with the purpose of replacing the Order.
4-The committee feels that the primary purpose of NWPA should be navigation not environmental policy but it also believes that changes to the NWPA should not occur for the sole purpose of diminishing environmental assessments.
5-The committee is also concerned that the users of waterways were not sufficiently consulted or communicated with in a timely manner during the process that led to the amendments which contributed to the apprehension many of these groups felt when the amendments were announced in the 2009 Budget.
The entire report can be read at http://www.parl.gc.ca/40/2/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/enrg-e/rep-e/rep09jun09-e.pdf.
To read a Council of Canadians backgrounder on the Navigable Waters Protection Act, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=203.