QIA shows some support for Steensby Inlet port
In their final intervention to the NIRB, QIA has shown their support for the Mary River project. They stated that, “QIA feels that appropriate mechanisms are in place to effectively monitor and manage the Mary River Project in an acceptable manner.” However they also have concerns. They feel like more effort should be made to assure positive economic and social outcomes, stating t“Inuit still feel that the potential for serious negative outcomes, or the challenges to actually realizing benefits, are being downplayed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.”
To make sure this doesn’t happen QIA hopes Baffinland will work closely with them to make sure that efforts are made to create long-term sustainable jobs, provide good training for Inuit and make sure that the project does not negatively affect Inuit traditional life in the communities. To make sure this happens, QIA demands that Inuit participate in every aspect monitoring the socio-economic situation. QIA has created the Qikiqtaaluk Socio-Economic Monitoring Committee (Q-SEMC) to assure that Baffinland and other parties understand the importance of social development.
QIA supports the construction of the railroad, but says Baffinland must come up with a better plan to protect the caribou populations. They believe the baseline studies are not detailed enough, which has made Baffinland downplay the negative consequences of the railway on the caribou populations. QIA wants Baffinland to work more closely with Inuit to create a group that will closely monitor the caribou population.
QIA also supports the Steensby Inlet location. They state that, “QIA accepts (subject to conditions outlined herein) that project feasibility is based on multiple factors including socio-economic impacts, environmental impacts, and, project economics,” and understand that “a port-site at Steensby Inlet may in fact be the most viable option for BIMC.” But QIA does not agree with the wintering of fuel on sea ice, instead asking that a land storage option be considered more seriously.
On the topic of Steensby, QIA states they are in “the advanced stages of negotiation” with Baffinland on an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement, “It is a further condition of QIA acceptance of the Steensby port-site that QIA and BIMC are able to positively conclude agreements on an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement (IIBA).” QIA claims they will present both the IIBA and the Commercial Production Lease agreements to the communities before a formal agreement with Baffinland, “the QIA Executive will undertake to present these agreements to communities prior to formal ratification.”
On the topic of marine mammals and the environmental impacts of the shipping route, QIA believes that the baseline assessment in the FEIS is not sufficient. “QIA has identified important information gaps and methodological issues that raise uncertainty about the significance of potential impacts. Further, current baseline information may not provide a sound basis for impact prediction and future monitoring.” Because of this QIA has decided to create the Marine Environment Working Group (MEWG) composed of two members appointed by QIA, two members appointed by Baffinalnd, one appointed by Environment Canada, one by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and one by the Government of Nunavut. Other members might be considered later on. This group will be in charge of creating a program to study the effects of the Mary River project on marine mammals through a “mix of community based and scientific studies.”
QIA’s main conclusion is that despite certain problems with the FEIS, they believe Baffinland has been very collaborative with their organization and with the communities. They believe that “continued work and collaboration after the permitting process, and throughout the life of mine, are critical to the success of this Project,” and that groups like Q-SEMC and MEWG will help to promote this collaboration and monitoring.
You can find all the interventions, which include those from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Health Canada, by clicking on the link below: