Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 15, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Nunavut Planning Commission announces public hearing on draft land use plan

But many Nunavut organizations say they're struggling to meet submission deadlines

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The Nunavut Planning Commission has announced dates for a public hearing to gather feedback on the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan: March 21-28 in Iqaluit.
The Nunavut Planning Commission has announced dates for a public hearing to gather feedback on the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan: March 21-28 in Iqaluit.

The Nunavut Planning Commission has announced dates for a public hearing to gather feedback on its Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan, but some territorial organizations say they’re not yet prepared to weigh in.

The NPC has recently announced a week-long hearing that will run March 21 to March 28 at the Frobisher Inn in Iqaluit.

In a notice posted this week, the NPC indicated that it plans to conduct “an informal oral public hearing,” to gather comments that will be considered when revising the draft plan and submitting the plan for final approval.

Following lengthy cross-territory consultations, which wrapped up in 2013, and a series of technical meetings that followed, the NPC published its draft plan in the summer of 2016.

The plan is designed to guide resource use and development within the Nunavut Settlement Area, mapping it out under three categories: protected areas, special management areas and mixed use.

Once approved, the plan may restrict land uses in some parts of the territory. Among its best-known proposals is for the protection of many caribou calving and post-calving grounds, along with access corridors, assigning those areas a “Protected Area” land use designation.

That section alone has already drawn the ire of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and other pro-development organizations, who consider the plan a deterrent to mining projects.

But it’s unclear how well Nunavummiut are prepared to weigh in at the upcoming hearing.

In documents filed with the NPC over the last couple of months, at least a dozen Nunavut hamlets said they were unable to meet the Jan. 13 deadline to file their own written submissions to the NPC.

A number of hamlets requested an extension from the NPC and support from the federal government to prepare the submissions, although the latter request was denied, documents show.

A submission from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the territory’s three regional Inuit associations suggest the hearing should adjourn at the end of March and re-open at the later time.

“NTI and the RIAs continue to emphasize that Inuit at the community level are not sufficiently aware of the contents of the DNLUP 2016,” their submission read.

“The lack of resources for communities to review the DNLUP 2016 and inflexible timelines will result in few written submissions being provided to NPC by community participants. The adequacy of the land use planning process is a pressing issue.”

With the hearing dates set, the NPC appears to have secured the federal funding it needed to move forwarded with the hearing, though neither the NPC or the federal department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs could confirm that with Nunatsiaq News before press time.

They have also extended the deadline for written submissions from municipal governments and others to 5 p.m., Feb. 28, a Feb. 8 NPC document said.

The NPC took the federal government to court in 2014 for its failure to meet financial obligations to the organization, but dropped the lawsuit in 2015 in the hope of an out-of-court settlement, which has yet to materialize.

NTI has since negotiated with Ottawa for an increase in funding to a number of Nunavut’s regulatory boards, including the NPC, although the commission still needs more to cover the cost of the hearing.

NPC’s director Sharon Ehaloak said last year that the commission has requested extra funding from the federal government to host an additional final round of consultations as well as for the final hearing.

The NPC hearing will take place at the Frobisher Inn’s Koojesse Ballroom March 21 to March 28 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, with simultaneous interpretation provided in Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, French and Denesuline.

Nunavummiut are invited to attend the hearing to listen as participants and to provide their own feedback. Registered participants can file written arguments following the hearing and up to an April 21 deadline.

Written submissions and other materials are posted to the NPC’s website here.

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