Land use planning and occupancy
In addition to increasing impacts caused by climate change, Nunavik is subject to intense pressure created by the development of a multitude of activities arising from its population growth, its transportation needs, its immense wealth in natural resources and its hydroelectric potential. Even though land use development planning is a government responsibility, the KEAC believes it is important to develop close collaboration between northern stakeholders, responsible government departments and the region’s residents with a view to the sustainable development of the communities and Nunavik.
Since the outset of this Québec-government process, the KEAC has followed with keen interest developments related to the Plan Nord. Concerned about the potential impacts of industrial activities on the natural and social environments, the KEAC believes it is important to improve understanding of the JBNQA and its dispositions among the various stakeholders. In December 2017, the president and chief executive officer of the Société du Plan Nord participated in discussions during the KEAC’s 154th meeting. The KEAC subsequently transmitted a letter to the Société du Plan Nord in order to underscore the overlap between the Société’s action plan and actions already underway in Nunavik, as well as the need to maintain open dialogue regarding development projects under the KEAC mandate.
Plan Nunavik and Parnasimautik consultation
Mindful of the environment and Inuit and Naskapi rights under the JBNQA as well as the consistent application of laws and regulations, the KEAC is monitoring the mobilization of regional organizations as they define the type of development suitable for Nunavik. In 2010, in response to the Plan Nord, regional organizations submitted Plan Nunavik to the Government of Québec. Then, while the Plan Nord project was placed on hold until 2014, regional organizations conducted the Parnasimautik consultations across the region. The Parnasimautik Consultation Report was published in 2014 and then the 2015 Nunavik Inuit Declaration. This work documents the vision and priorities of Nunavimmiut in fields such as access to the land, environmental protection and natural resource management, and proposes a model for sustainable development adapted to the region.
Scattered across Nunavik are a multitude of mobile and permanent outfitting camps. Some are unauthorized or have been abandoned. The KEAC believes it is critical to update the registry of these camps so all are properly identified and to implement an effective inspection program.
The KEAC continues to advocate for immediate intervention to address the outstanding environmental concerns posed by these camps. The threats to watershed ecosystems, fish populations and other wildlife that are important sources of food for Inuit and Naskapi are of special concern.
Abandoned mineral exploration sites
The issue of abandoned mineral exploration sites is a concern for the KEAC and the residents of Nunavik. Identification and restoration of these sites has been ongoing since 2007 with the signing of an agreement between the Kativik Regional Government, the Makivik Corporation, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (energy and natural resources) and the Fonds Restor-Action Nunavik. To date, over 100 sites have been cleaned up, including the removal of significant quantities of residual and hazardous materials. In March 2020, the KEAC corresponded with the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles regarding newly identified sites and the obligation of mineral exploration companies under the Mining Act to restore their claims.
Mid-Canada Line clean-up project
The Mid-Canada Line was a Doppler radar detection system for aircraft across Canada along the 55th parallel. The 42 stations located in Québec (35 sites north and seven sites south of the 55th parallel) were operated by the Department of National Defence until 1965, when they were abandoned.
Since 1985, there has been a significant amount of restoration work carried out at these 42 sites in order to ensure public safety and environmental protection as well as mitigate the current and potential environmental impact of the Mid-Canada Line sites.
However, there still remains a significant amount of debris on the sites as well as potential hazards to the environment and to the community users that frequent these areas. Rehabilitation work should be continued in order to ensure better environmental protection and an adequate level of public safety. In 2012, the KEAC published a brief in which it recommended the continuation of rehabilitation activities to ensure the complete and final clean-up of these sites.
Contaminated sites on federal lands in Nunavik
The KEAC is monitoring the rehabilitation of several sites located on federal lands in Nunavik. Sites of particular interest to the region are: Killiniq Island, Akpatok Island and several contaminated sites in the community of Kuujjuaq.
The KEAC is concerned about the potential growth of transportation infrastructure in Nunavik along with an expected increase in the number of development projects. For this reason, it undertook a review in 2007 of the legal frameworks applicable in particular to road development. In its findings, the KEAC calls for regulations to control transportation activities in the north since these activities do not currently comply with the principles of sustainable development.
Draft Consultation Policy on Priorities for Sustainable Forest Development and Forest Management
The KEAC considers that Nunavik should be recognized as a region where it is necessary to protect forests. To this end, it feels that understanding of the region’s forests should be enhanced and that a sustainable management system to prevent the uncontrolled exploitation of this resource should be implemented through a regional forest management plan. Under the Sustainable Forest Development Act, a consultation policy must be prepared on priorities for sustainable forest development and forest management orientations. In a letter transmitted to the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (forests, wildlife and parks) in May 2017, the KEAC reiterated its recommendations from 2004 and 2011, specifically that Nunavik must develop its own regional forest management plan and participate actively in integrated land and natural resource planning, and that Cree, Inuit and Naskapi residents must be consulted on issues related to forest management in the region.