For more than 2500 years, people have enjoyed a common right to free passage on public waterways. This right can be traced from the Roman era, through such influential documents as the Magna Carta of 1215, to modern times. Canada's Navigable Waters Protection Act recognizes the public right to navigation in Canadian waters; passed in 1882, it is one of our oldest pieces of federal legislation.
The Navigable Waters Protection Act recognizes the importance of protecting navigable waterways. At the same time, the Act allows individuals and agencies to proceed with projects that interfere substantially with navigation, provided they obtain approval from the Minister. In this sense, the Act both reinforces the historic common right to navigation for Canadians and creates a legal process for limiting or interfering with this right.
The act of obtaining approval from the Minister triggers a federal environmental assessment process. Through this process, environmental impacts and mitigation measures are determined. This assessment process helps to balance the traditional common right to free passage and the need or desire to construct works on or near navigable waterways.
On April 17, 2008, Waterkeeper received an invitation from Mr. Mervin Tweed, Chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, to provide a submission regarding proposed amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. A list of seven proposed changes was included in the letter.
Three of those seven changes could dramatically alter the public's right to free passage, making our right to access waters weaker than it's been in the nation's history. Simply by changing the definitions of a few words, Transport Canada is on the road to creating a two-tier environmental protection system. Some rivers and some communities in Canada would retain their centuries old right to free passage. Some rivers and some communities would not. In our submission to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper describes the consequences of the proposed amendments and explains how the Committee can improve the Act without sacrificing common rights.
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
This week on Living At the Barricades, hosts Mark Mattson and Krystyn Tully highlight planned rollbacks to the Navigable Waters Act and the Fisheries Act.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is very pleased to announce that Living At the Barricades now broadcasts Fridays at 12:00pm on CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Welcome to our Guelph and surrounding area listeners! In addition to our new found on-air presence in the area, Waterkeeper volunteer Eileen Gross shares a booth every Saturday with local water advocates Wellington Water Watchers at the Guelph Farmer's Market.
Announcing the 51st Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research. This year's theme is Our Lakes, Our Community and will recognize the role that communities and community organizations can play in protecting the quality and quantity of water, and the recreational and commercial value of the Great Lakes. There will be 350 platform presentations and 55 posters in 28 scientific sessions.
What are the epicurean and ethical dimensions of a perfect seafood dish?
Bestselling author Taras Grescoe traveled the globe looking for an answer to this riddle and chronicles his findings in Bottomfeeder: How To Eat Ethically In A World Of Vanishing Seafood. Come hear Grescoe discuss the social, political and ecological consequences of the global fishery industry with Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio's Q.
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto Tues, May 20; 8:00pm (doors 7:30pm) free
For more information call: 416 598 1447 firstname.lastname@example.org
Broken Social Scene have designed a special t-shirt for the Yellow Bird Project. This t-shirt, designed by their drummer Justin Peroff, is being sold to raise money and awareness for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.