The Honorable Denis Lebel, Federal Minister for Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities, announced amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act today. The nature of the amendments would appear to address many of the long-standing concerns municipal governments have had, particularly concerning the renewal of bridges and wharfs. The announced changes are aimed at simplifying the process of building and maintaining bridges or other infrastructure. Providing greater certainty in planning for works, reducing time and project costs is welcomed.

The amendments are intended to clarify when approval of the Minister to build, repair or infrastructure in navigable waters will be required.  In announcing the changes, Minister Lebel noted that the new legislation would:

  • Change the name of this law (the Navigable Waters Protection Act) to the Navigation Protection Act to reflect its historic intent;
  • Clearly list the major waterways for which regulatory approval is required prior to the placement or construction of a work and apply  the common law to protect navigation in unlisted waterways;
  • Allow proponents of works in unlisted waters, such as municipalities and provinces, to opt-in and seek approval of their proposed work to give them additional legal certainty by allowing them to choose; and
Expand the list of low risk works (like minor repairs on bridges) that can be pre-approved because they pose very little impact on safe navigation.

AMO will be reviewing the legislation in detail when available.
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