WHEREAS many of the unnamed or intermittent watercourses in the province located in the agricultural regions of the province require access across these watercourses for farming practices; AND WHEREAS to cross these watercourses, a low-level in-stream crossing or culvert must be constructed or installed; AND WHEREAS in order to install these crossings, an application under Section 58(1) of the federal Fisheries Act must be made consisting of engineer specifications, scale drawings, assessment of existing fish habitat characteristics, and an assessment of potential effects of the project on fish habitat; AND WHEREAS if these crossings result in the loss of spawning habitat the landowner would be asked to create or improve spawning nearby; AND WHEREAS these restrictions for the installation of a simple farm crossing would add a financial burden to the farming community;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the federal government, through Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to allow authorization of Section 35(2) stream crossings to continue until suitable alternative crossings are provided.
During the settlement of Canada and the prairies, the pioneers of this country found it necessary to cross numerous rivers and streams. A great many of these traditional crossings are still in use today as a result of a lack of bridges on all municipal grid roads, as well as bridges that are inadequate to support the movement of modern agricultural and other types of machinery. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has jurisdiction over all fish habitat in Canada, and they are threatening this historical right via the federal Fisheries Act (R.S., c. F-14, s. 1), specifically subsection 35(1), no person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat; and subsection 36(3) no person shall deposit or permit the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish or in any place under any conditions where the deleterious substance or any other deleterious substance that results from the deposit of the deleterious substance may enter any such water. Section 35(2) no person contravenes subsection (1) by causing the alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat by means or under any conditions authorized by the Minister under regulations made by the Governor in council under this Act.
Resolution 7-03S urges the province and the AAMDC to work with officials of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure that procedures and processes relating to fish habitat mitigation projects in local municipalities are transparent, consistent, and predictable in application, and further urges the development of positive and cooperative relationships to better facilitate practical, cost-effective solutions to completing public works projects in local jurisdictions.
The federal minister has advised that some measures have been taken in conjunction with funding announcements contained in the 2005 federal budget to streamline activities and requirement for low risk activities as they pertain to fish habitat in general and stream crossings in particular. The AAMDC is committed to continuing to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on stream crossings and other ongoing DFO issues.