Planning commission submits its new land use plan for Nunavut

Plan for land use is a requirement of the Nunavut Agreement

Nunavut Planning Commission executive director Sharon Ehaloak and chair Andrew Nakashuk have recently submitted a new draft of the Nunavut Land Use Plan. (Photo by David Lochead)

By David Lochead

A new land-use plan focused on balancing Nunavut’s environmental and economic interests is now with the federal government, Nunavut government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. for consideration.

“We almost killed our team doing it, but we did it,” commission executive director Sharon Ehaloak said of the effort.

The plan, which is a mandated part of the Nunavut Agreement, has gone through four drafts over the past 16 years. Its purpose is to promote environmental sustainability while laying the groundwork for economic development. The most recent draft was due for submission by June 20.

It covers water and resources such as wildlife and all federal and territorial government departments and agencies must abide by the plan.

The Nunavut Planning Commission is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring the plan. Last fall and winter, it held its final round of consultations in communities around the territory.

For the commission’s recommended plan to become legally binding, it still needs to be approved jointly by the three Nunavut Agreement signatories — the federal and Nunavut governments and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The difference between this version and previous drafts is this one provides more balance between economic opportunities and conservation, said Jonathan Savoy, the commission’s director of policy and planning.

He said the signatories felt the earlier drafts were tilted too much toward conservation.

Savoy said one key change involves changing certain areas of caribou calving from limited use to conditional use. This change would remove year-round restrictions on industrial activity in some of the lands.

There are more caribou protections added to the Qikiqtaaluk region under this plan, compared to previous drafts.

When asked about which decisions on the land use plan were the hardest to make, commission chairperson Andrew Nakashuk pointed to those involving caribou.

The process toward creating a land use plan — which will be the first for Nunavut — has been lengthy.

At times, calls for more consultation and hearings slowed the process, as did the COVID-19 pandemic.

In late 2022, organizations were given an extension to provide written submissions and comments, pushing deadlines into January to February.

Nakashuk said the extension was helpful.

“It helps us to make better decisions,” he said.

Because of the extension, certain Arctic char fishing areas were able to get more protections.

While hunters and trappers associations are not signatory parties, they were involved in the community consultations.

“As commissioners, we were listening,” Nakashuk said.

If the signing parties do not approve the submission, they will make written recommendations for possible changes.

The commission will look at those recommendations, then make changes if they are needed. If those changes are still not approved by the three signing parties, the commission has to begin a new draft.

“And that would be a terrible outcome for this territory,” Ehaloak said.

Nakashuk said there is an amendment process once the plan is approved, so changes can continue to be made even after the plan is put into place.

“With a plan in place, it can be amended at any time,” Ehaloak said.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Paul Fraser on

    I want to extend my sincere congratulations to the Nunavut Planning Commission and its Staff over this hard fought accomplishment. While I watched from afar these last now 7 years, I had a ring side seat the first 9 years of this16 year long mammoth planning exercise. I applaud all who earnestly and actively worked on this unique and newly minted Land Use Plan, including those organizations and individuals that chose to cooperate with and support the process ,,, even if that meant keeping your representative seats on the Commission occupied. Well done NPC!

    Paul F Fraser
    Someone Who Once Cared

  2. Posted by ? on

    Only took how long ???? GN ? NWT ?

  3. Posted by Peter on

    I have come to baker lake nu to work for the last 4 month and I am heart broken for what I seen hear. First thing is all the drums of oil by the airport must be 500 to 600 hundred of them and they are leaking into the lake ? I seen all the talking about saving the great land hear.
    Second thing I seen here is the way the garage dump is burning of garbage and all the oil and toxic waste just dump there.
    Third thing any where else in canada u would be in jail for the animals there take and killed because people just got tired of them 50 I seen so far so sad how great is your land ?

    • Posted by Plastic Shaman on

      This is the reality in many communities. We badly need our leaders to take note and address these kinds of issues. Instead they pretend our cosmos is guided by Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and in the case you raised Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq, yet that is a virtual reality, to be found on paper, placards and posters around the workplace or, more accurately, in the imagination.

  4. Posted by The Eff? on

    > Savoy said one key change involves changing certain areas of caribou calving from limited use to conditional use. This change would remove year-round restrictions on industrial activity in some of the lands.

    This is something that Inuit want on their land? Do they want Caribou calving grounds to be open to year-round industrial activity?

    • Posted by An Inconvenient Truth on

      This is a misleading comment. Conditional Use Areas are still subject to the land use and environmental assessment process which means the regulatory system may still impose certain conditions on proponents depending on the activity. It’s not wide open development without restriction. $5 says someone from DOE wrote this comment. Land use designations simply provide greater clarity for governments and proponents on how to design and assess projects when submitting land use applications. Don’t let the fear-mongering, eco-colonialists scare you.

      • Posted by Regular Citizen on

        Not some DOE shill. Just wondering how this aligns with the wants of the Inuit. Conditional roads and trains still unconditionally affect the herds.

  5. Posted by Flabbergasted on

    NPC needs to have community consultations over these conditional use areas ! Our community never had any community consultations yet over this land use plan and it has been on going for 16 years !! Our community here in the west don’t even know anything about it !!!

  6. Posted by The People’s Land on

    To Peter & Plastic Shaman,
    Thank you for your observations of truth.
    So many of our leaders ignore the realities of Nunavut, they tend to blame southern people
    or Ottawa for everything. We keep voting for them

    Language or the Land, it is up to the Inuit people to get their act together !

  7. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Very sad that they are going to open caribou calving and post calving grounds to mineral exploration and mines with conditions. Mines , especially the roads they have created make a lot of disturbances to caribou, including hunters speeding up those roads where they once had to drive slow off road by ATV to hunt caribou. The mine foot prints are taking valuable grazing areas/ habitats for caribou mothers and calves after they give birth. Our caribou populations have diminished more than half from a couple decades ago and still declining. Pretty shameful .


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