Nunavut’s regulatory system is a model of excellence
In response to your article “Meadowbank plan languishes in bureaucratic limbo,” I am writing to correct a factual error and to offer a more optimistic perspective of the land management regime established under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
The factual error in your article is that the “NPC is involved because the Kivalliq is the only region in Nunavut with a land use plan.”
In fact, both the Keewatin and North Baffin planning regions have land use plans in effect. Both plans were approved by the federal and territorial governments in June 2000, making these regions the first places in Northern Canada to have land use plans. (The land use plans can be read in Inuktitut and English on the NPC’s Web site at http://npc.nunavut.ca.)
The Nunavut Planning Commission has been testing project proposals for conformity with the Keewatin and North Baffin land use plans for more than three years now, with not a single complaint about the time it takes for us to conduct our part of the process.
While your article states that the Meadowbank delay is the result of a mix-up between certain agencies (I will leave it to those agencies to respond if they judge it appropriate), the implication is that the entire land management regime in Nunavut is overly bureaucratic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Three of the institutions of public government established under the NLCA (the Nunavut Planning Commission, the Nunavut Water Board and the Nunavut Impact Review Board), have, in collaboration with NTI, DIAND and the regional Inuit associations, created a single-window projects registry system called PLANNER (http://planner.nunavut.ca.)
This system links project proponents and regulators to each other through a centralized database accessible over the Internet. This ambitious initiative has received national and international recognition for its success in streamlining the review and permitting process in Nunavut.
The Treasury Board of Canada awarded the system a gold medal for excellence in the management of information in the public sector. The Environmental Systems Research Institute gave it an award for innovation in Geographic Information Systems. PLANNER was also a finalist in the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s Award for Innovative Management. By invitation, the system was presented last fall to an international conference on reducing red tape (see http://www.smarttape.ca). The mining industry has praised PLANNER, calling it “leading-edge” and “a model for Canada.”
In addition to PLANNER, the Nunavut Planning Commission has developed a custom-written software application that brings efficiency, consistency, and transparency to its conformity determination process.
Your readers may wish to review the commission’s conformity determination of the Meadowbank project at http://planner.nunavut.ca/reports/P2003128/home. I would suggest that there are few — if any — jurisdictions in the world that provide mining companies and the public with a land use plan conformity system that is as fair, consistently applied, transparent, and efficient as the system in Nunavut.
It’s true that mining companies can extract minerals in countries with fewer environmental regulations than exist in Nunavut. The people of Nunavut chose more than a decade ago, however, to control the use of their precious lands through a land management system designed for the North and defined as part of the Canadian constitution through the Nunavut land claims agreement. Attempting to “compete” with countries that sell their resources to multinational corporations without concern for their environment has never been the wish of the people of Nunavut.
The board members and staff of Nunavut’s institutions of public government are working very hard, in collaboration with the federal and territorial governments, NTI, the regional Inuit associations, HTOs, CLARCs, industry, NGOs, and the public to ensure that sustainable development is realized through a fair and efficient process for the benefit of all Nunavummiut, both today and in future generations.
While much remains to be done, the NLCA itself, and the innovative tools developed to implement its provisions, are achievements of which the people of Nunavut can be very proud.
Nunavut Planning Commission