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No community at seismic presentation in Iqaluit

Community presentations on a proposed seismic survey of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait ended on a low note in Iqaluit Monday night – no one came.

Meeting organizers say more consultations planned for Nunavut

Community presentations on a proposed seismic survey of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait ended on a low note in Iqaluit Monday night – no one came.

A group of multinational companies wants to map Baffin Bay and Davis Strait for possible oil and gas exploration.

Organizers blamed the lack of turnout on conflicting meetings and a failure to reserve a room, plus the fact that they had already met with some interested parties such as the Qikiqtani Inuit Association separately.

In the end, Baffin Fisheries Coalition hosted the community presentation. But besides the consultants from Halifax-based NEXUS Coastal Resource Management, only Baffin Fisheries CEO Jerry Ward was present.

NEXUS principal Alanna Gauthier stressed this is only the start of consultations.

"Why we're here is basically to facilitate the communication between the community and the project proponent ... so that the project ultimately benefits both the project proponent and communities," she said.

QIA had criticized the timing of the community presentations because they are being held during the late spring and early summer when many Nunavummiut are out on the land or water. Gauthier said there is never an ideal time to do consultations.

"But the key to remember is that this is a process. It's not a one-and-done type consultation. So we're very aware that consultation occurs over a period."

This month, NEXUS gave presentations in Pangnirtung, Clyde River and Pond Inlet.

Meetings were weathered out in Kimmirut and Qikiqtarjuaq. Gauthier said that's why NEXUS will head to those two communities in the fall for more consultations.

Baffin CEO Ward has concerns about the possible negative effects of seismic testing on fishing. He said he's not against development if backers of the seismic project continue to listen to the concerns of the young Nunavut fishing industry.

"My understanding is they've met with the QIA and with the city here and some other officials - the process is being done. I've certainly learned more today and yesterday, I guess, than what I knew before," said Ward.

The companies could start the seismic mapping next year.