A board designed to settle land access disputes in the N.W.T. between aboriginal groups and resource extraction companies has now been staffed, the territorial government has announced.

The N.W.T. Surface Rights Board will determine the terms — including potential financial compensation — companies with subsurface rights will have to meet to carry out their desired work when they can't come to an agreement with the landowners or occupants.

The four members and chair of the board, who were appointed by N.W.T. Minister of Lands Robert C. McLeod, are:

  • Louie Azzolini (chair), the executive director of the Arctic Energy Alliance in Yellowknife
  • Elizabeth Wright (member), a Fort McPherson resident and member of the Gwich'in Land and Water Board
  • Danny Bayha (member), a self-employed business owner in Deline
  • Darrell Christie (member), an Inuvik resident who works for the Environmental Impact Screening Committee
  • Mike Vaydik (member), a resident of Yellowknife and former executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

The board will make decisions for projects on both settled lands (the Gwich'in, Inuvialuit and Sahtu regions) and unsettled lands (the Dehcho and Akaitcho regions), but is not expected to start operating until April 2016.

The board was established under the Surface Rights Board Act, one of several new pieces of N.W.T. legislation that copied federal legislation as part of the N.W.T.'s devolution process.