About CHRS

About the CHRS

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) is Canada’s national river conservation program. Established in 1984, the CHRS gives national recognition to Canada’s outstanding rivers and encourages their long-term management to conserve their natural, cultural and recreational values for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, now and in the future.

There are currently 40 Canadian Heritage Rivers (39 designated, and one nominated) across the country, totaling close to 10,000 km.

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An interactive map of the CHRS will be added soon

How the CHRS Works

The CHRS is a federal-provincial-territorial government program that works with community-level river stewardship groups to promote and conserve rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. All conservation actions on Canadian Heritage Rivers are voluntary and depend on existing laws and regulations.

Proponents of river nominations work with their provincial or territorial governments to research and prepare the documents that are part of the nomination and designation process. The approval of the relevant provincial or territorial Minister and of the Minister responsible for Parks Canada (the Minister of Environment and Climate Change) represents the final step in the nomination and designation process.

A step-by step guide to the process can be found on the nomination and designation page.

Who is Responsible for the CHRS?

The following members of the CHRS Team have important roles in the administration and delivery of the CHRS program:

Canadian Heritage Rivers Board
  • Fostering relationships with river managers within their jurisdiction;
  • Reviewing river nomination requests to ensure the rivers meet the criteria established by the Board for consideration in the CHRS;
  • Liaising with the jurisdiction’s member of the Technical Planning Committee on matters relating to the delivery of the CHRS program in the jurisdiction;
  • Making a recommendation to the Board with respect to the continued designation of the river, upon submission of the ten-year monitoring report.
The Executive Board
  • Dealing with business matters and policies at a national level that are deemed to not require the involvement of the full Board;
  • Developing presentations for Board meetings and/or determining and presenting a position to the Board for discussion and final decision;
  • Preparing a budget, with the support of Parks Canada’s Secretariat services and the Parks Canada Board member, for the consideration and decision of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board at its spring meeting;
  • Monitoring the budget and expenditures and deciding on any re-allocation of funds or variances in budget allocations, as described in Appendix B;
  • Providing guidance on the activities and workplans of Parks Canada’s Secretariat function and the Technical Planning Committee and on the implementation of Board decisions.
Parks Canada Secretariat Function
  • The preparation of briefing material and minutes for all Board and Executive meetings.
  • Tabling final documents with the Board.
  • Information management/inventory of program files, primarily nomination and designation documents, annual and ten-year monitoring reports, minutes and decision points from Board meetings.
  • Maintaining up-to-date contact information for Board members, Technical Planning Committee members, and river manager and river stewardship groups.
  • Provision of advice to the Board and Executive as necessary on policies, precedents and files that are pertinent to its decisions.
  • The preparation of contracts, contribution agreements and other financial documents and mechanisms.
  • Leadership for the day-to-day management of national program communications projects and products, including the www.chrs.ca website, social media, exhibits, newsletters, or any other project or product assigned by the Board or required for a designation ceremony.
  • Participating in Technical Planning Committee meetings in an advisory capacity as required.
The Technical Planning Committee
  • The provision of support and advice to the Board on nominations, designations and the monitoring of Canadian Heritage Rivers. The objective of this responsibility is to maintain the integrity of the System.
  • The development of policies, strategies, tools and other products to support program objectives. The objective of this responsibility is to ensure the efficient and effective management of Canadian Heritage Rivers.
  • The continuing development and implementation of the River Stewardship Groups Engagement Strategy. The objective of this responsibility is to strengthen and support the program’s vision, as described in the Canadian Heritage Rivers Charter.
  • Each member will be responsible for reviewing their jurisdiction’s ten-year monitoring reports, to ensure that the content is complete and accurate, and for briefing their jurisdictional Board member on whether the respective heritage river still meets the designation criteria and deserves its status.
River Managers
  • Individual(s) identified by the managing body as the person or organizational unit with oversight and day-to-day management responsibilities.

Why the CHRS Matters

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System recognizes that rivers are essential to our health, our communities, and our identity as Canadians. The CHRS works with Canadians to conserve rivers and to tell their stories… the stories of our country.

The CHRS celebrates the importance of rivers to Indigenous people, to explorers, to voyageurs and settlers, to industry and the economy, to our landscape, to the environment, and to our well-being.