Western Nunavut Inuit org pitches Grays Bay project to NTI

Support from the Government of the Northwest Territories gives the project “much more clout,” says KIA


Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak talks about the Grays Bay Road and Port Project at last year's KIA AGM. Anablak was in Cape Dorset on Aug. 29 to promote the project to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.'s board of directors. (FILE PHOTO)

Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak talks about the Grays Bay Road and Port Project at last year’s KIA AGM. Anablak was in Cape Dorset on Aug. 29 to promote the project to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s board of directors. (FILE PHOTO)

Promoters of the $500-million Grays Bay road and port project in western Nunavut haven’t given up, despite the Government of Nunavut’s decision not to back the project.

The president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Asssociation, Stanley Anablak, came to the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. board of directors meeting in Cape Dorset this morning to ask the Nunavut Inuit birthright organization for financial support.

Anablak said the project now has the backing of the Government of the Northwest Territories and, with that territory’s backing, the KIA plans to reapply to the national trade and transportation corridors program and other federal infrastructure programs.

“With the GNWT, this will give us much more clout in Ottawa,” Anablak told the NTI board members during a discussion that was broadcast online.

Anablak said that talks will now also take place with the new Nunavut government, to ensure that the Government of Nunavut does not “stand in the way” of the project.

That’s after Anablak vowed last June to try and learn more about why the GN backed away from Grays Bay, which needs about $29 million to get “shovel-ready,” Anablak said.

After making his pitch, Anablak received support from around the table, but he also heard some concerns that his appeal came before NTI has fine-tuned its Inuit development fund.

Speaking in favour of Grays Bay, Charlie Lyall of Taloyoak said that the road and port project would make the lives of Inuit “much better,” as the proposed port and road promises to create jobs and reduce the cost of living.

The Grays Bay project would involve the construction of a 227-kilometre all-weather road running from the site of the defunct Jericho mine, which is located at the northern end of the Tibbit-Contwoyto winter road, to a deep-sea port at Grays Bay on Coronation Gulf.

The GNWT has proposed connecting with the Nunavut portion of the road.

Lyall also said the Grays Bay environmental impact studies would be “heavily based on traditional knowledge,” rather than on western science, as it’s “an Inuit project and traditional knowledge will be the way.”

But PJ Akeeagok of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association had some concerns that the KIA request for money was coming before NTI’s strategic development plan has been approved.

The project needs a contribution of $7.5 million to be eligible for federal funding programs. However, Anablak requested a $3-million loan from NTI for now.

NTI President Aluki Kotierk said the board of directors would consider a resolution at the end of its meeting on Thursday to give an advance of $3 million, and then examine the $4.5-million balance in tandem with the future development policy.

This spring, the KIA was disappointed to learn that Grays Bay would not receive funding under the federal transportation corridors program, which went instead to Nunavut airport overhauls.

Last May, then–economic development minister Joe Savikataaq, now Nunavut’s premier, told the legislature that the GN had decided to pull away from the Grays Bay project even before the federal government had rejected its funding proposal under the trade corridors program.

Promoters had wanted the GN to commit $138 million to the project, but in March the GN decided not to commit any more money to the project than the $2 million given in June 2017 to help the project’s development.

Less than three weeks after the GN withdrew, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said it would suspend its environmental and socio-economic assessment of the project at the request of the Nunavut Resources Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the KIA, putting the process on hold until the KIA could figure out what to do next.

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