The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) is Canada’s national program for recognizing, celebrating and conserving the natural, cultural and recreational values of 40 rivers across Canada.
Established in 1984, the CHRS is a model of stewardship, cooperation, and participation. Together, Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments work in conjunction with local communities and stewardship groups to give recognition to nearly 10,000 km of rivers across the nation. We work towards the long-term management of our rivers for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, now and into the future.
The CHRS tells our rivers’ stories – the stories of Canada. We celebrate the importance of river heritage, from Indigenous peoples, to voyageurs and settlers, from industry and the economy, to our rich, natural landscapes.
Goals / Priorities
The initial focus of the program was to build a comprehensive system of heritage rivers that fully represents the spectrum of Canada’s rich river heritage. Over the last decade, significant work has been carried out to advance this priority, and the CHRS has matured into a valued, nation-wide program.
The four new priorities for 2020-2030 reflect the maturation of the program and the evolving needs and expectations of program participants.
Priority 1: Advancing Indigenous Reconciliation on Canadian Heritage Rivers
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System Board and participating jurisdictions will seek the advice and engagement of Indigenous peoples to ensure that Indigenous perspectives and values are appropriately integrated into all aspects of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System program.
Priority 2: Strengthening the Canadian Heritage Rivers network
The success of the CHRS program relies greatly on our network of passionate river managers, stakeholder groups and local communities. By 2030, river managers and stewardship groups will be empowered to play a leadership role on their Canadian Heritage Rivers in support of effective river stewardship.
Priority 3: Excellence in river management and conservation
Canadian Heritage River designation recognizes the commitment of a community to care for that river. By 2030, local river managers, other stewardship groups and partner organizations will have holistic approaches in place that ensure that rivers are monitored and managed so that the values for which they were nominated are maintained or enhanced.
Priority 4: Engaging Canadians in celebrating and stewarding heritage rivers
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System has a role to play in building a national river constituency. By 2030, the benefits and opportunities associated with Canadian Heritage Rivers System designations will be well understood and there will be broad support for the conservation and celebration of Canadian Heritage Rivers as well as other rivers across Canada.
Who is Responsible for the CHRS?
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System is comprised of several groups, each of whom play an important role in the administration and delivery of the CHRS program:
CHRS Governance Structure:
Roles and Responsibilities
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.