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Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
house of commons
K1A 0A6

Comité permanent des transports, de l'infrastructure et des collectivités

For immediate release


Consideration of Proposed Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act

Ottawa, June 12, 2008 -

Today, the Committee presented its report to the House of Commons, entitled: CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE NAVIGABLE WATERS PROTECTION ACT.

In February 2008, the government requested that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities undertake consultations to develop a new Navigable Waters Protection Act. This Act, which was written in 1882, is one of the oldest pieces of legislation in Canada.

While the Committee appreciates the necessity for developing new legislation, we believe that rather than dealing with the entire piece of legislation it would better serve the needs of stakeholders to first deal with those sections of the Act that could be resolved quickly. To this end, Transport Canada set forth seven areas for the Committee to examine. These include; the definition of “navigable waters”, the definition of “work”, reference to “named” works, fines, removal of wrecks, inspection powers and the review of the Act.

Our report makes recommendations concerning these issues as well as on an additional item dealing with inter-departmental environmental assessments and fisheries habitat assessments.

The Committee recommends that the government:

• amend the definition of navigable waters to exclude minor waters and clearly define what constitutes a navigable water;

• amend the definition of “work” to exclude “minor works”;

• consider deleting specific reference to the “four” named works in the Act without compromising the review of works that impede or obstruct navigation;

• ensure that the “trigger” mechanisms contained in other pieces of relevant legislation for environmental assessment and fisheries habitat assessment are not done away with or impeded;

• develop as system of significant fines;

• take into account international agreements with regard to removal of wrecks;

• clearly define inspection powers to ensure compliance with all provisions of the NWPA; and

• include a five - year review clause in the Act to correct any deficiencies in the implementation of the proposed amendments to the Act.

We believe that these recommendations can lead to improvements in the current legislation and benefit stakeholders in terms of easing the backlog of projects and more clearly defining the approval process. We would also note that this is the first stage in our process in dealing with changes to the NWPA. Once we receive the government’s proposed amendments we will be undertaking further consultations on this piece of legislation.

The report is available at

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For more information, please contact:
Maxime Ricard, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Tel: 613-996-4663