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WHEREAS municipalities are required to obtain approval from the Canadian Coast Guard before any bridge or culvert construction may commence in a stream that may be navigable;AND WHEREAS municipalities frequently experience delays of up to six or more months in receiving confirmation from the Canadian Coast Guard in respect to whether a stream is navigable or not;AND WHEREAS there are very limited time windows in which construction may occur in streams, and thus these delays in receiving confirmation from the Canadian Coast Guard may force a project to be deferred to the following year;AND WHEREAS such deferrals may lead to increased costs in both time and dollars;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the federal government to publish guidelines on which waterways are definitely non-navigable.
Pursuant to the Fisheries and Oceans Act, municipalities are required to obtain approval from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Canadian Coast Guard before any work may be done in a streambed. The Canadian Coast Guard has an office in Edmonton that is in charge of the Central and Arctic Region in Canada. This office may be responsible for several hundred files at one time. In most cases, a representative from the Coast Guard office must physically inspect the proposed site of construction before responding to an inquiry as to whether a stream is classified as navigable.Municipalities have been experiencing much delay in responses from the Coast Guard office. We believe this is due to the overwhelming number of files they have to process throughout a very large geographical region. Consequences of these delays for municipalities may be increased costs through engineering time, correspondence with the Coast Guard, phone calls, contractor’s crews sitting idle while waiting for approvals, shipment of inspected pipe which is tying up manufacturers yard space, resubmission of permit applications or even postponement of the projects.Not only does the Coast Guard office require additional funding and staff, but we would also suggest that they publish guidelines on which waterways are definitely non-navigable. These streams could be defined by maximum channel width, volumetric high stream flows below some stated maximum and quantifiable navigational impedances (i.e. beaver dams throughout or small culverts nearby). Identifying these non-navigable sites through such guidelines may eliminate the need to apply to the Coast Guard office through a formal approval process.
The AAMDC and its members have addressed the issue of “navigable waters”, and the regulatory requirements related to conducting municipal activities on or near these waters, on several occasions in recent years.Resolution 16-97S, endorsed by delegates to the Spring 1997 convention, calls for a reclassification of waterways requiring Coast Guard approval, and the “deregulation” of waterways found to be in a “more minor” category.The AGRA Report on Environmental Requirements for Municipal Projects, which was adopted by delegates to the Fall 1998 Convention, calls on the federal government to develop a new definition of navigable waters with the aim of streamlining regulatory requirements in this area.Resolution 9-00F, endorsed by delegates to the Fall 2000 Convention, urges the Government of Canada to adopt a new definition of navigable waters developed by the AAMDC Environmental Advisory Committee.Earlier this summer, the AAMDC wrote to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, requesting that the department provide the association with a map designating all navigable wates in Alberta, to assist AAMDC members in more clearly understanding which streams will require approvals from the Canadian Coast Guard.