Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 24, 2010 - 2:16 pm

NPC promises draft Nunavut land use plan by fall

Planning commission releases “priorities areas” map for public consultation

GABRIEL ZARATE

Without a plan to show where what activities can go where, development in Nunavut is something of a crapshoot.

“There’s no guidance to industry as to what areas it’s appropriate to have development and which areas it’s not,” said Jonathan Savoy, a policy analyst with the Nunavut Planning Commission.

The result has been a lot of confusion and frustration for explorers, academics, hunters, and everyone else whose interests are affected by development.

That’s about to change, as the NPC prepares to roll out a draft of its first territory-wide land use plan by the fall.

“Any guidance over a blank map would be a great help,” said Mike Vaydik, general manager of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “And that’s what we’ve got now.”

Only the Kivalliq and North Baffin regions are now covered under land use plans, but they are old and largely obsolete, Savoy said.

Savoy explained that when the plan is complete, industry will be able to look at it before beginning the regulatory process for starting a new project in Nunavut.

Once complete, the plan will still be subject to modification, a “living document” reviewed every five years to accommodate input from the public, the private sector or government departments.

Amendments can be proposed at any time.

For instance, Savoy said, “The wildlife data we are relying on right now is changing. It’s always being updated.”

Such a plan would “add another level of certainty” for those looking to develop Nunavut’s resources,.

The presence of a land use plan will establish a new first step in the regulatory process in most of Nunavut. Companies will have to contact the NPC to see if their initial ideas agree with the plan, the “conformity determination process.”

If a new proposed project falls within the plan, then it will continue on the usual path to approval through the Nunavut Impact Review Board, the water board and other regulatory agencies.

NPC already does conformity determination based off the old land use plans for the Kivalliq and North Baffin, but applications from for other regions are simply forwarded to NIRB.

Projects that have already gone to NIRB won’t be affected by the new plan and will be grandfathered into legitimacy even if they conflict with the plan once it’s complete.

NPC has just released a “priority areas map” for public comment and community consultations.

The map is available on the web at http://bit.ly/c30iq6.

Areas to be marked include places of notable wildlife or cultural significance, potential energy sources, community watersheds and other important features of the land.

That map is now going out via a territory-wide mail drop with an accompanying questionnaire in all four official languages.

The responses NPC gets will help staff develop the official draft of the land use plan, to be submitted to NPC’s commissioners in September.

Then there will be another round of community consultations over the winter of 2010-11, with the final draft due in June 2011 for approval by the territorial and federal governments.

The land use plan will cover all of the Nunavut settlement area except for municipal lands and national and territorial parks.

Parts of the land use plan will concern seasonal use, such as staying out of certain areas during annual wildlife migrations.

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