The Canadian Navigable Waters Act Engagement Opportunity

Dramatic sunrise on August morning.  Summer sun breaks  over the Atlantic ocean in Lancaster and Cable John Cove, Newfoundland, Canada.

In 2012, Parliament approved changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act and changed its name to the Navigation Protection Act. The changes came into force in 2014. The Government of Canada promised to review these changes, as well as restore protections and introduce modern safeguards.

In February 2018, the Government of Canada introduced proposed legislation Bill C-69. The proposed changes to the Navigation Protection Act in Bill C-69 would create a new Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA).

This new Act aims to better protect the public right to travel on all navigable waters in Canada by:

  • expanding the Act to regulate major works (for example, dams and bridges) and obstructions on all navigable waters
  • introducing a fuller definition of “navigable water”
  • creating a more inclusive process to add navigable waters to the list – known as the Schedule
  • considering cumulative effects on navigation of multiple projects in a navigable water
  • introducing a new public resolution process to address Canadians’ navigation concerns before a work is built

It will also allow Transport Canada to engage more closely with Indigenous peoples to:

  • create new agreements and arrangements for how we administer the Act (monitoring, enforcement)
  • ensure Indigenous knowledge is considered and protected
  • explicitly include transport or travel to exercise Indigenous rights in the definition of “navigable water”
  • ensure that potential adverse impacts on Indigenous rights are considered before making a decision under the Act

Lastly, the new Act aims to create more accessible and transparent processes, including:

  • a new online registry with information about projects and regulatory approvals
  • a requirement for owners to provide advance notification for works on any navigable water
  • a requirement that owners provide opportunities for early engagement for works on any navigable water

Qalipu First Nation is working with Transport Canada to engage Indigenous peoples in the consultation process to strengthen awareness and gather views related to the proposed changes to the Act.

For more information on the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the handbook can be viewed at:

If you have any questions or comments, contact Alyssa Hunter at Qalipu’s Natural Resources Department. Email: Phone: 634-1500