The Nunavut Planning Commission has cancelled the final public hearings on its long-awaited territorial land use plan, and it's placing the blame squarely on Ottawa.
In a strongly worded press release issued Monday, the planning commission says it’s “astonished” that the federal government has refused to fund the public hearing on its final draft land use plan.
“It was very difficult for the board of directors to come to this point,” says executive director Sharon Ehaloak. “The commission felt that we have exhausted our efforts and our resources at a bureaucratic level to resolve the issue and secure the funding. It needed to be known to the public that this is where we stand.”
The Nunavut Planning Commission released its draft land use plan for all of Nunavut in September of 2012. It’s spent the past two years consulting on that plan, visiting every community in Nunavut twice as well as several communities in northern Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The result of those consultations — an ambitious document that would set the terms for future development in Nunavut in an attempt to balance traditional land use with wildlife and environmental concerns — is set to be released Friday.
But Ehaloak says without a final public hearing, estimated to cost about $1.7 million, the entire process is stalled.
“For the document to go forward to the fed and territorial ministers, the consultation piece is critical and has to happen.”
Baffinland blew the budget
Ehaloak notes one reason that the planning commission is running short of funds: last year’s public consultation on the modified Baffinland Iron Mine.
“We undertook the public consultation at substantial cost out of the commission’s core budget,” Ehaloak says. “The reimbursement of these funds has not happened.”
The hearings, which took place throughout the north Baffin region, duplicated much of the work of the Nunavut Impact Review Board. NIRB boycotted the hearings, calling them “regrettable."
Ehaloak says the problem is the way NPC is funded.
“I would say that there are a few people in Ottawa that are holding the purse strings that have been counter productive in moving this file forward.”
But, she added, “We’re hopeful that we can find resolutions.”
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has not yet responded to CBC News's request for an interview.