Deal gives KRG responsibility for new Nunavik parks

Quebec to set aside land for two or three new provincial parks


KUUJJUAQ — If everything goes smoothly, two or even three provincial parks could be created in Nunavik by 2004.

Nunavimmiut can expect to play a large part in developing and managing these and any other new parks in the region.

By the end of March, the province of Quebec is expected to sign a deal with the Kativik Regional Government to transfer almost all responsibility for the administration and management of new provincial parks to the KRG.

The five-year deal, worth more than $8 million, will create eight jobs in Kuujjuaq as well as other job opportunities in nearby parks.

“I’m very pleased with it,” said the KRG’s parks co-ordinator, Robert Fréchette. “It’s not a forced or imposed kind of development. It creates jobs for the parks locally, and hopefully it will create others, too.”

The KRG is requesting control over several aspects, including administration of Nunavik’s parks network; management of all operations, activities and services in each of Nunavik’s parks; purchasing of parks equipment; overseeing development and construction work; development of communications, emergency, local and regional plans for parks; and development and delivery of training for parks’ staff.

However, Quebec wants to keep the final word over the master plans for parks. That’s because, by law, Quebec’s minister responsible for parks — not the KRG — must preside over the public hearings on master plans for provincial parks.

The KRG has lobbied for more input into park development than it had during the development of Nunavik’s first provincial park, Pingualuit Park. In the autumn of 2000, the regional government received a copy of the provisional master plan for the park at the same time as other regional organizations.

Provincial and regional officials are still fine-tuning the transfer of responsibility from Quebec to the KRG. The deal, which was to be signed by the end of 2001, should be wrapped up before April 1, 2002, the beginning of the government’s new fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Pingualuit Park, located around the meteor crater near Kangiqsujuaq, is awaiting its stamp of approval from the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission.

It is one of the last hurdles before the park gains official recognition as a provincial park later this year.

Additional scenic places on the list for parks in Nunavik are the Torngat Mountains near Kangiqsualujjuaq, as well as the Richmond Gulf and the area around Clearwater Lake, Quebec’s third largest lake, both near Umiujaq.

Also reserved for park development are lands around the Koroc River, Cape Wolstenhome, the Puvirnituq Mountains and Leaf Bay.

Park officials recently attended a public information meeting in Kangiqsualujjuaq to introduce the park project for Torngats.

The Torngat Mountains already attract many visitors every year, although most fly directly to the region from Kuujjuaq, instead of passing through Kangiqsualujjuaq.

After a park is established in the Torngats, visitors will have to register in Kangiqsualujjuaq — a boost to local tourism.

However, the existence of more protected areas in Nunavik will have a negative impact on future mineral development in the region because mining won’t be permitted within the area’s borders after the land is set aside for parks and after the parks are established.

More protected parkland will be a bonus to Nunavimmiut who want to pursue traditional land-based activities.

That’s because all land reserved for parks is equivalent to Category 2 lands in which only beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement can hunt and fish.

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