DIAND lawyer: water board should stay the course

A lawyer for DIAND says it would be inappropriate for the Nunavut Water Board to “meet”with the Town of Iqaluit.



IQALUIT — Indian Affairs officials want the Nunavut Water Board to ignore a letter from the Town of Iqaluit responding to a new water licence recently imposed by the water board.

Earlier this month the municipality issued an official response to the water board’s decision to grant them a strict one-year water licence. The licence imposes numerous costly conditions and requirements.

In the letter dated Feb. 10, the Town says the deadlines that the water board imposed and the costs associated with meeting those deadlines “must be addressed.”

The letter goes on to ask the water board to meet with the Town to resolve the issues.

But in its own letter to the water board, the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development says the board should not entertain any substantive submissions, such as the letter from Iqaluit.

In the letter written by legal counsel Lee Webber, DIAND argues an administrative tribunal, such as the water board, should not make or alter its decisions through “dialogue.”

“Secondly, a dialogue which included only the board and the municipality would, by excluding all other parties who had previously been involved in the proceedings, deny those other parties fairness and justice,” Webber’s letter states.

DIAND also argues it would be inappropriate for the board to turn its decision-making process into an appearance by the board before some other body.

And since the appropriate minister hasn’t yet approved the licence, the licence cannot be amended, DIAND’s lawyer says.

If the water board does decide to take into account Iqaluit’s letter, it should decide what kinds of submissions it will consider and give intervenors time to respond, Webber says in his letter.

But a different letter from the Nunavut government seems to back up some of concerns Iqaluit raises.

And it suggests the water board give the municipality more time by extending its water licence.

“It is our conviction… that from a practical perspective one year is too short a term in light of the conditions imposed. It would assist the municipality if the NWB were willing to either extend this term slightly ,” writes Susan Hardy, legal counsel for the territory.

Hardy goes onto write that some of the conditions, such as an inspection of the Lake Geraldine reservoir dam by a geotechnical engineer is excessive. The letter also suggests a hydrological assessment of the Lake Geraldine watershed may not be necessary.

And the government says the Feb. 15 deadline to have the sewage treatment plant operational should be extended to March 31.

And the government suggests the Town should not be expected to pay for and perform research linking the open burning of garbage and the quality of water within two years.

“In light of… the limited time and resources available to the community, it is doubtful that the study contemplated by the NWB could be completed within this two year period, or that it will, if completed, apply to or benefit the municipality of Iqaluit in any way.”

The government goes on to say it is prepared to co-operate with the water board “to set and implement priorities for the 1999 water licence.”

The nine-member board is now reviewing the three letters and plans to respond to Iqaluit’s Feb. 10 letter next week, said Philippe di Pi o, executive director of the water board.

The water board will decide whether to accept or reject each of the various recommendations, di Pi o said.

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