Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Nunavut May 12, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Mining group says draft land use plan flawed, harmful to Nunavummiut

"It is essential for the commissioners to hear directly from industry"


The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines applauds the statements made by Sen. Dennis Patterson in April at the Nunavut Mining Symposium. The clear message from the senator was that all parties need to have an open mind in the evaluation of “resource development.”

Having an economic driver that is sustainable and responsible to the peoples and the environment of the North will be critical to growing Nunavut’s economy and ensuring the health and well-being of Nunavummiut over the longer term.

The senator also commented that the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan (DNLUP) has been a failure to this point and that the federal government needs to consult more with affected parties before making decisions that can impact the long-term well-being of Nunavut.

The chamber believes that “made in the North” solutions have to become the norm. Having politicians and other political entities from the South make unilateral decisions that negatively affect northerners without any local input does not build confidence in the federal decision-making process.

The chamber sees communities and community members as our partners in responsible development. Communities and their members have been vocal about mining over the past 20 years and we, as industry, have always been listening and responding. We take our environmental stewardship seriously.
The chamber and its members believe there has been a lack of transparency and clarity in the DNLUP process since 2014.

Most recently, during the DNLUP regional public hearing held in Iqaluit in March, the chamber again expressed serious concerns about the plan.

After hearing input from the communities and parties that have participated, we continue to be of the view that the 2016 DNLUP should be revised before further hearings are held.

None of the signatories (Government of Canada, Government of Nunavut, or Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) have given the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) a deadline. Given the enormous impact at stake, this process should not be rushed. In reference to words used by the Senator, “no plan is better than a bad plan.”

We think the approach of the current plan is harmful to Nunavut by restricting communities from voicing their opinions about projects in their area.

We think it will seriously damage the economy of Nunavut, and limit benefits for Nunavummiut and Nunavut. We do not think that this approach will give any better protection for wildlife.

We understand that not every project will be approved. We are asking for the plan to have enough flexibility to permit projects to enter into the regulatory process so that there is an opportunity to fully evaluate, with input from the local communities and Regional Inuit Associations, whether particular mining or exploration projects have potential to cause significant environmental or social effects.

Nunavut has a strong regulatory process, and NPC is an important part of that process. We believe that the first Nunavut-wide land use plan should give guidance to the next stage of the regulatory process (NIRB, NWB, federal and territorial) but not act as a roadblock.

As currently drafted, the DNLUP fails to meet the goals and objectives for which it was formed.

It is important that industry be part of the land use planning process. Should the next regional hearing scheduled in Rankin Inlet occur, we hope the Chamber is given adequate time to present its views to the commissioners and the communities that are in attendance.

In order to produce a balanced plan, we agree it is essential for the commissioners to hear directly from industry. 

We feel there have been many inconsistencies in due process and specifically feel that there has not been sufficient engagement with industry by NPC to date. We hope that NPC takes further steps to address this deficiency.

There can be positive outcomes through a well-designed process and industry is engaged to see this take place between all parties involved.

Gary Vivian, President
Alex Buchan, Vice-President Nunavut
The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

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