The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board has laid off six employees including two environmental assessment officers.

Vern Christensen, the board’s executive director, says the layoffs come after an intense and busy year for environmental assessments. 

In its third quarter, the board was facing a shortfall.      

In previous years, the federal government approved extra funding to cover unexpected costs arising out of environmental reviews .

But Christensen says Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will not be providing that support anymore.

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Vern Christensen, the board’s executive director, says the layoffs come after an intense year for environmental assessments.

He says the board will have to be strategic with the rest of its finances.

"The board's top priority is that we do have quality environmental assessments and that they are timely.  But the interesting question for the board will be … when we do get a new referral is there sufficient funding to make sure we can bring it to a conclusion?"

An environmental assessment officer reviewing Avalon Rare Metal’s Thor Lake project was among the layoffs.

Avalon is proposing to build an underground mine at Thor Lake, 100 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife. There is a public hearing scheduled for the project on Feb. 18.

Christensen said the assessment will go ahead as planned.

"We have shadowing of staff for our environmental assessments so if one person is not there the other can pick up and run with it. So we're feeling confident that the staff can continue to carry that one and keep it on track," Christensen said.

The four other jobs cut at the board include a communications position and other corporate staff.