NPC completes draft Nunavut land use plan, but hearing subject to funding
Draft plan protects core calving and post-calving grounds
The final Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan is complete and — counter to the Government of Nunavut’s wishes announced last spring — it offers blanket protection for caribou calving grounds.
Following lengthy consultation in each of the territory’s 25 communities, which wrapped up in 2013, and a series of technical meetings which followed, the Nunavut Planning Commission posted the final draft plan to its website last week.
The plan is designed to guide resource use and development within the Nunavut Settlement Area.
Notably, the plan provides for protection of caribou calving and post-calving grounds, along with key access corridors, assigning those areas a Protected Area Land Use Designation.
“Core-calving areas are of critical importance for maintaining healthy caribou populations,” the plan said.
“The impacts of exploration and development cannot be effectively mitigated in core calving areas.”
That runs up against the government’s new policy, announced quietly last March, when the GN said it supported responsible development in calving areas, on a case-by-case basis.
The land use plan provides protection for critical bird habitat as well but not for polar bear denning areas which were given a Mixed Use Designation.
The plan also identifies traditional on-ice travel routes and offers management tools to protect them; it identifies areas of mineral potential and areas with potential for tourism development.
The GN will have a say in the land use plan’s final approval, along with the federal government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
First, the Nunavut Planning Commission will offer public information sessions on the land use plan, set to take place this fall, before the NPC leads a public hearing planned for March 2017 in Iqaluit.
But it’s still unclear how they plan to pay for those hearings.
The NPC took the federal government to court in 2014 for its failure to meet financial obligations to the organization, but dropped the lawsuit in 2015 in the hope of an out-of-court settlement, which has yet to materialize.
NTI has since negotiated with Ottawa for an increase in funding to a number of Nunavut’s regulatory boards, including the NPC, although the commission still needs more to cover the cost of the hearing.
NPC’s director Sharon Ehaloak said the commission has requested extra funding from the federal government to host an additional final round of consultations as well as the for the final hearing.
Funding discussions are ongoing, she said.
“We are confident that the federal government shares the collective goal of direct engagement with communities and stakeholders and we look forward to our continued discussions to fund these steps,” Ehaloak said.
You can see an English version of the final Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan here.
Inuktitut and French-language copies of the plan will be made available in July.