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Heritage River Designation and River Preservation

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    Peter Karwacki


    I recently attended the 7th biannual Heritage Rivers Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I was a speaker on the topic: Putting Teeth in CEAA Environmental Assessment Screenings.

    Like many at the conference we were also there to celebrate the designation of the Red River as a Canadian Heritage River. All of the key speakers, including Justin Trudeau, Peter C. Newman, Tom Jackson among the higher lights praised the esthetic values of rivers, the role they play as the life lines of our country and their being part of Canada’s living systems.

    So when it was announced that the contents of Devil’s Lake was being discharged in to the headwater of the Red, south of the Canada/US border it was obvious to all that heritage designation does little to protect our rivers In the case of our very own Ottawa River, the nomination process can lead otherwise productive people to follow their tails.

    Rather, it is the growing, some say organically growing Non Governmental Organizations that offer the best and greatest hope for rivers and the environment. NGO fanatics and diplomats alike can say and do things that would cause most tenured government bureaucrats to ashen for fear of their pensions.

    Having said that, Les amis de la Rivière Kipawa, the group which I represented in Winnipeg recently issued a press release and organized a conference on Parliament Hill in the Charle Lynch Memorial Conference Room.

    The conference was attended by nobody. To the earnest environmentalist the heart falls on such indifference. While NGO’s have a role to play, it is a thankless task, frought with doubts, internal strife and setbacks, competition with golf balls and hockey pucks perhaps leading to obscurity.

    God bless Canada.

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