Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik March 04, 2010 - 4:58 pm

Watchdog gives lukewarm nod to new Nunavik park

Kativik environmental commission says proposal falls short of offering full protection to vulnerable species, habitat

JANE GEORGE
Kativik Regional Government councillors, Eli Aullaluk, Larry Watt and Joseph Annahatak, shown at last year's environmental hearings on the proposed Tursujuq park project, were appointed to the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission by the KRG. (FILE PHOTO)
Kativik Regional Government councillors, Eli Aullaluk, Larry Watt and Joseph Annahatak, shown at last year's environmental hearings on the proposed Tursujuq park project, were appointed to the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission by the KRG. (FILE PHOTO)
Unique scenery and wildlife characterize the proposed Tursujuq provincial park project between Umiujaq and Kuujjuaraapik, which has received a favourable review from he Kativik Environment Quality Commission. (FILE PHOTO)
Unique scenery and wildlife characterize the proposed Tursujuq provincial park project between Umiujaq and Kuujjuaraapik, which has received a favourable review from he Kativik Environment Quality Commission. (FILE PHOTO)

The Parc national Tursujuq project is “a good project,” although it falls short of offering “all possible protection to rare, endangered or vulnerable species and their habitat,” says a Kativik Environmental Quality Commission decision on the proposed provincial park between Kuujjuaraapik and Umiujaq.

Members of the KEQC said Tursujuq “should be authorized” by Quebec in their decision, which was dated November 2009, but only released to the public March 1.

The KEQC members added nine conditions to their decision, which must be met before Quebec gives final authorization.

These conditions are sure to disappoint groups who submitted briefs asking for an enlargement of the park’s boundaries this past June.

They asked for the park to include the entire Nastapoka River watershed, home to landlocked salmon, the only salmon to be found on eastern Hudson Bay, as well as belugas.

Environmental groups wanted to see the entire chain of inland lakes, where an endangered population of fresh water seals live, also included within Tursujuq’s boundaries.

These seals are found 150 km inland in the “Lacs des Loups Marins"or seal lakes region. They’re believed to be the only harbour seals in the world that live year-round in fresh water.

At present only the headwaters of the Nastapoka river are includes in the park boundaries.

While the commission members were in favour of including the entire Nastapoka watershed in the park project, they said they couldn’t make a decision on this until the signatories of the Sanarrutik Agreement talk about “the abandonment or continued interest in the hydroelecic potential associated with this river.”

The Nastapoka River, whose development is mentioned in the 2002 Sanarrutik deal, signed between Quebec and Nunavik, could produce up to 1,000 megawatts of power, enough to meet the daily needs of about 250,000 homes.

The commissioners do say that any future hydroelectric development project or any other project will have to be subject to an “extremely rigorous” environmental assessment.

The commissioners put nine conditions on the development of the park, that

1. the park boundaries be changed in order to allow outfitters to continue their activities;

2. cliffs south of the little whale river be included within the park;

3. there should be additional representation for Crees on the park’s management or “harmonization” committee;

4. a research plan should be established;

5. a researcher should be named to the harmonization committee;

6. the park must have a strategy to inform visits about beneficiaries “practicing traditional activities” in the park; and,

7. there’s a need to establish a mechanism to deal with conflicts between park use and traditional activities;

8. Quebec must work with Umiujaq to protect or develop certain sites.

The commissioners decided that uncertainty around islands in the Richmond Gulf wasn’t enough to prevent the authorization of the park.

The federal and provincial governments both claim islands in the Richmond Gulf, which lies within the future park’s boundaries.

This body of water is called a “lac” or lake in French but a gulf, that is a body of water attached to Hudson Bay, in English.

A map approved as part of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement shows the islands in the gulf as being part of crown lands, although the earlier James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement places them in a lake, lac Guillaume-Délisle, and lists them as Category 2 Inuit lands under the jurisdiction of Quebec.

As for the park’s name, it will officially be know as Parc National Tursujuaq instead of by its tongue-twisting French name, Parc National des Lacs-Guillaume-Délisle-et-à-l’Eau-Claire.

Work leading up to Tursujuq, which will be managed by the Kativik Regional Government, is expected to take five years.

Its development and operation will put about $600,ooo to $700,000 in wages and compensation back into the communities.

Only about 50 visitors a year are expected during the park’s first five years — fewer than the 325 are expected at Kuururjuaq — Nunavik’s second provincial park— in the Torngat mountains near Kangiqsualujjuaq.

But KEQC decision paper nonetheless notes need for more infrastructure in the community of Umiujaq.

For the complete text of the KEQC decision, go to:
http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/communiques_en/2010/c20100301-tursujuq.htm

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