Fisheries and Navigation

Res #: 23-06A
Number: 23
Year: 2006
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Resolution No. 23-06A

WHEREAS, there is conflicting jurisdiction between the Provincial Department of Environment, the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada; and

WHEREAS, this conflicting jurisdiction between the Provincial and Federal Departments is making construction of municipal roads extremely difficult and in many cases extremely expensive; and

WHEREAS, in many of the watercourses in this province fish do not exist, in fact, many of these watercourses see water only in spring thaw or the occasional heavy summer rain; and

WHEREAS, many of the watercourses in this province have never seen and will never see a canoe or boat and therefore logically should not fall under the federal Navigable Waters Act;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada be removed from the Province of Saskatchewan and that all approvals for road construction on, over or near waterways in the Province of Saskatchewan be under the sole jurisdiction of the province.

Response from Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities:

Transport Canada can only respond to those aspects that fall within the department's purview, such as navigation issues. I should not that the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which includes navigability criteria, is guided by court decisions. However, I can assure you that the Navigable Waters Protection Program is continuously seeking, in cooperation with stakeholders, ways to expedite approval process for works on minor waterways.

Response from Loyola Hearn, PC, MP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada:

I appreciate the concerns raised by your membership, and I want to assures you that DFO is sensitive to the economic issues facing Rural Municipalities in Saskatchewan.  DFO will continue to work with SARM in the coming years to address fish habitat issues in a cooperative and productive manner.

A key consideration of the fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act is to ensure the protection of sigh migration routes – for example, by ensuring that road crossings are constructed to allow unimpeded fish passage to spawning and rearing area.  All sectors of the economy involved in road building and maintenance are expected to carry out their activiites in an environmentally responsible manner, and in accordance with applicable legislation, such as the Fisheries Act.  The agriculture industry has long been considered a responsible steward of our natural resources and it is expected that road construction, the serve the agricultural community, will be carried out with appropriate environmental safeguards in place.

Additional costs are sometimes incurred by proponents to satisfy fish passage requirements under the federal Fisheries Act.  These requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis by DFO fisheries biologists, and are based on the importance of the particular stream and the fish populations supported.  Proponents may have access to federal assistance programs, such as the Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Program, to offset some costs. 

The Saskatchewan Transportation and Environment Committee, in which both SARM and DFO are active members, provides a proactive forum for discussion of the issues and resolutions associated with stream crossing in Saskatchewan.  I encourage your association to continue to provide your feedback and participation through this avenue.