Nunavut board says yes to the GN’s Pond Inlet harbour studies
GN must do extensive technical studies prior to harbour construction
The Government of Nunavut is now well on its way to gaining federal government permission for extensive studies it must do prior to designing a much-anticipated small craft harbour at Pond Inlet.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board, in a screening decision released Aug. 16, recommends that two federal ministers and one territorial minister say yes to the project, subject to a standard list of terms and conditions.
If those three ministers — Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc and Nunavut Arctic College Minister Paul Quassa — say yes, the GN can start the studies this summer and finish the work by the end of next summer.
To do the research, the GN has hired the Burnaby, B.C. branch of a multinational consulting firm called Advisian.
Advisian’s researchers plan to study fish habitat, water and sediment quality, local migratory and marine bird species and identify any rare plants in the area.
They also plan to use a marine drilling barge to bore holes in the seabed around the area where the small craft harbour is planned and do test drilling at a proposed quarry site on land.
And they plan to use up to 20 people for this work, all of whom will required accommodations in Pond Inlet. For transportation they’ll use passenger vehicles, snow machines and a motorboat.
Government stakeholders had no big concerns about the research project, though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Advisian researchers should do no serious harm to fish species and that their team should not contravene the Fisheries Act or the Species at Risk Act.
But the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization did produce a list of requests, that the researchers should:
• consult with the community, the Hamlet of Pond Inlet, the Mittimatalik HTO and other bodies to help plan their activities;
• collect sea ice information, use existing studies on ocean currents and wildlife, use elders to collect Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and hire local Inuit; and,
• submit research results and project updates to the HTO and the Hamlet of Pond Inlet.
The GN has yet to submit a project description for actual construction of the small craft harbour at Pond Inlet.
And it’s still not clear when that construction work could start.
But data from the geotechnical and environmental baseline studies will likely get plugged in to future application to the NIRB, some time after they’re completed by the end of 2017.
In one of its last Nunavut-related announcements, in July 2015, the outgoing Conservative government promised to put $30 million into the $40-million project. The GN will contribute the other $10 million.