Iqaluit Inuit elders tell Nunavut board they’re worried about hydro project, ask for IIBA
“It’s going to have a large social impact for us Inuit”
Inuit elders fear the effects of a hydroelectric project near Iqaluit and they want the Qulliq Energy Corp. to negotiate an Inuit impact and benefit agreement, elders told the Nunavut Impact Review Board Sept. 10.
“I believe we need an IIBA in the millions,” said Simon Nattaq, the chair of Iqaluit’s community land and resources committee, a land claim body also known as a “CLARC.”
The review board organized meetings in Iqaluit aimed at helping them figure out the project’s scope: a list of things that ought to become part of the QEC’s draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS.
Following similar meetings this week in Kimmirut and Pangnirtung, NIRB staff will produce a “scoping list” and use it to create guidelines. QEC is expected to follow those guidelines when completing its DEIS.
The power corporation has been planning a hydroelectric project near Iqaluit since at least 2005. That work stopped for a while, then resumed in 2012.
The latest version of the QEC’s plan would see them spend up to $450 million on two dams and power stations over the next 20 years or so: the first at Jaynes Inlet and the second, planned for the decade following 2030, at a site called Armshow South near the Bay of Two Rivers.
Those sites are about 60 and 30 kilometres south-west of Iqaluit and would be connected to the city by 84 km of power lines.
Nattaq said this project would likely generate a “large social impact for us Inuit,” because of the potential disruption of areas used for fishing, camping and travelling.
And he said that because of this, the QEC must be prepared to compensate Inuit for any harmful impacts through an IIBA.
“We are very concerned,” Nattaq said.
Hunters in Iqaluit had earlier favoured the Jayne’s Inlet site because it’s less likely to disturb popular fishing areas.
But the proposed Armshow South site, which wouldn’t be developed until the 2030s, appears to threaten well-used fishing spots around the Bay of Two Rivers.
“The Bay of Two Rivers is my main fishing spot,” Mosesee Atagooyuk told the review board.
“Let’s look at alternatives that would have less of an impact on our lives,” Atagooyuk said.
He also said that site could interfere with an important travel route to Kimmirut.
Alacie Joamie said he same thing when she first heard of the power corporation’s hydroelectric plans but she “had a change of heart and I agree with it.”
But at the same time, she said she wants to be sure that the people of Iqaluit will benefit from the project.
“Our land is pristine and wild and natural and has never been affected by these developments,” she said.
Other residents who attended the meeting said QEC should provide more detailed information about its plans.
A QIA employee said the power corporation should be asked if they plan to remove fish from any lakes.
And Seth Reinhart of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency said the QEC should be asked to provide more detailed information about the potential economic impact of the project and its affect on the cost of power.
Adla Itorcheak of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. said the QEC should be asked if mining companies and other developers would be allowed to tap in to the hydro project’s system and if electrical power would be available to cabin owners on the side of the bay opposite Iqaluit.
The QEC has said in the past that a hydroelectric plant could replace the use of dirty diesel-generated electrical power in Iqaluit, which consumes about one-third of all diesel imported into Nunavut this year.
They also claim that a hydro plant would produce lower electrical power rates.
The NIRB was planning to hold similar meetings Sept. 11 in Kimmirut and Sept. 12 in Pangnirtung.