Quebec ready to enlarge Nunavik park borders
Nunavik communities, environment groups want park to include entire Nastapoka River watershed
PUVIRNITUQ — Quebec appears ready to enlarge the planned Tursujuq provincial park to include more of the Nastapoka River watershed which lies inland between the Nunavik communities of Kuujjuaraapik and Umiujaq.
A working group met recently in Kuujjuaraapik to present a new boundary proposal that “includes a large portion of the Nastapoka river basin,” said a document tabled May 29 at the Kativik Regional Government council meeting in Puvirnituq.
The Nastapoka River, home to salmon and rare freshwater seals, also has an enormous potential for hydro-electric power production.
The Little Whale River also runs in and around Tursujuq, which covers 15,000 kilometres between Kuujjuaraapik and Umiujaq.
Hydro Quebec has said it has no plans at the moment to construct hydro-electric projects along the two rivers.
But the power corporation has also said it wants to keep the door open to a future power project along the Nastapoka River.
If a dam was built along the Nastapoka River, Hydro Quebec previously said power lines, access routes and roads would cross the park and that the flow of the Little Whale River would also be reduced.
The Nastapoka River, whose development is mentioned in the 2002 Sanarrutik deal, signed between Quebec and Nunavik, could produce up to 1,000 megawatts of power, enough to meet the daily needs of about 250,000 homes.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Quebec chapter), Nature Quebec, Canadian Boreal Initiative have asked Quebec to add more than 10,000 sq. km. to Tursujuq’s size so the entire Nastapoka River watershed would be included within the park boundaries.
The communities of Umiujaq, Kuujjuaraapik and the Cree community of Whapmagoostui as well as the KRG have said they want the park enlarged.
The new boundary proposal is now in the hands of the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission, which in 2009 placed eight conditions that Quebec would have to meet before moving ahead with Tursujuq.
The KEQC said the Parc national Tursujuq project was “a good project,” although it fell short of offering “all possible protection to rare, endangered or vulnerable species and their habitats.”
During a May 29 discussion about the new proposed park borders, Maggie Emudluk, the chairperson of the KRG, praised Quebec’s readiness to enlarge the park — but she said that a Quebec provincial election in the fall could halt the progress towards the creation of the park, Nunavik’s third.
Meanwhile, work on park infrastructure continues, with an additional $1.2 million from Quebec.