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432-00692 (Environment)

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled

We, the undersigned residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following:

That almost all of the community drinking watersheds on the east coast of Vancouver Island are privately owned, based on an agreement that was struck when BC joined confederation. The E&N land grant, which includes land from Campbell River to Jordan River, was partial payment to build the E&N Railway as part of the agreement for confederation.

That all of the community drinking watersheds within the E&N land grant which are under private ownership have had water quality and contamination problems related to human activity including logging, mining, landfills and other industrial and recreational activities. Watersheds in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay, Shawnigan Lake and other communities have been affected.

That the E&N Land Grant violated treaty rights and aboriginal title.

That public ownership of community drinking watersheds, as in the case of the Capital Regional District, has allowed water districts to control all activity in the watershed and allow for the natural forest to help filter and store water and reduce drinking water treatment costs.

That clean safe drinking water is essential to life, is a human right and is fundamental to the economic wellbeing of communities and the region and the protection of community drinking water sources must supersede all other interests.

Therefore, your petitioners call upon parliament to work with the Province of British Columbia, First Nations, Municipalities, Regional Districts, and land-owners to begin a process to bring community drinking watersheds on Vancouver Island under public ownership and control and ensure they are properly protected for community drinking water purposes now and for future generations, eliminating all industrial and other activity that is not essential to the maintenance of a pristine, secure source of drinking water.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

Water quality management is a shared responsibility among different jurisdictions.  At the federal level, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) plays a role in the management of pollution.  ECCC takes water pollution very seriously and continues to work hard to protect and conserve Canada’s water resources. Much of this effort is to apply and enforce Canadian laws that control pollution such as the Fisheries Act.

ECCC is the lead department responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Acthttps://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/F-14/index.html. These provisions serve to protect fish as a public resource by prohibiting pollution that could be deleterious to fish.  Subsection 36(3) is the key pollution prevention provision and prohibits the deposit of all deleterious substances into water frequented by fish, or to any place, under any conditions, where it may enter water frequented by fish.

A deposit of a deleterious substance is only authorized under regulations that set strict requirements concerning the deposits.  There are Fisheries Act regulations related to a number of the sectors and deposits mentioned in the petition including the pulp and paper, metal and diamond mining, and wastewater sectors.  Deposits that are not subject to a regulation are subject to subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

The management of drinking water is shared among federal, provincial and municipal governments. The federal responsibility lies with Health Canada, but its role is in protecting the health of all Canadians by developing the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality in partnership with the provinces and territories. These guidelines are used by every jurisdiction in Canada and are the basis for establishing drinking water quality requirements for all Canadians. Provinces and municipalities are typically responsible for the provision of safe drinking water.

Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
March 22, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00692)
Government response tabled
May 5, 2021
Photo - Paul Manly
Nanaimo—Ladysmith
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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