Nottawasaga River added to federal list of protected waters
Liberal government adds river to list under Navigable Waters
By Ian Adams Wasaga Sun
The Nottawasaga River is once again protected under federal legislation.
In October, the federal government added the river to the list of rivers and lakes protected under the Navigation Protection Act.
Several area municipalities, as well as the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and Simcoe County, had called on Ottawa to add the river to the list, after the Conservative government replaced the Navigable Waters Protection Act in 2012.
More than 600 signatures were also collected through a petition requesting the addition of the Nottawasaga River to the schedule.
The previous legislation included all of Canada’s waters — three oceans, 40,000 lakes, and 2.5 million rivers — whereas the legislation that replaced it only protected the oceans, 97 lakes, and 63 rivers.
Former NDP member of Parliament Megan Leslie had put forward a private members bill in 2013 to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act to include the river. That bill did not proceed past first reading.
The issue of the river’s protection also came up several times in Simcoe-Grey candidate debates during the 2015 federal election.
In a letter to Clearview Township council in November, Transport Canada minister Marc Garneau announced the river had been added to the list of protected waters.
The minister also wrote to the council in the summer, advising the ministry reviewed the request and supported adding the river “as it is an economic driver for tourism, fishing, boating, recreational activity, and hospitality in the region.”
The Conservation Authority’s concern was without protection, projects such as bridges and wharfs could be built, potentially impacting people’s ability to use the river.
It also put the NVCA and municipalities within the watershed open to court challenges to any activities undertaken along the river and its tributaries.
At an NVCA board meeting in 2014, it was noted that adding the river to the act will also help protect its history, its recreational and economic significance to local municipalities.
“We were very pleased to learn that earlier this year the Government of Canada added the Nottawasaga River to the Act,” said NVCA chief administrative officer, Gayle Wood, in an email to Simcoe.com. “The Nottawasaga River is an active recreational boating waterway for both residents and visitors alike, and supports a robust local tourism sector. With its addition to the Navigation Protection Act, the public’s right to navigate the river is protected.