Cabin owners want no winter road to abandoned mines near Yellowknife
Federal government wants to build a 65-kilometre ice road to 7 former mines
Longtime cabin owners on Campbell Lake, N.W.T. want the federal government to abandon a plan to build a winter road across the lake to gain access to former mines.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has applied for a land use permit and water licence from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board to remediate a cluster of seven mines about 80 kilometres east of Yellowknife.
The plan is to construct a 65 kilometre winter road off the Ingraham trail to access the mines. The road would follow, where water levels allow, a historical ice road last used in the 1980s.
Over three years, hazardous waste like asbestos, lead painted materials and batteries would be hauled by winter road to an offsite location for disposal.
Transportation of hazardous materials and increased public traffic has cabin owners worried.
"If this ice road is built it will destroy this chain of lakes from Reid Lake to Campbell," wrote Brian and Mary Rose Sundberg in a letter dated July 11, 2016 to the MVLWB.
"The proposed ice road will bring a world of problems to the area including squatters, overfishing of the area lakes, pollution on the lakes, vandalism, interference with our trapline, and theft from our cabins and lodges."
In the letter, the Sundbergs wrote that they were never consulted about the project and questioned if transporting hazardous waste across pristine lakes was worth the risk. They suggested that the federal government should focus on its Giant Mine remediation instead — a much larger threat to the environment.
In a response to the Sundbergs' letter, INAC stated that Brian Sundberg was in attendance at a July 19, 2016 meeting regarding the Bullmoose Area Mine Sites remediation project.
Stacey Sundberg also provided a letter of concern to the MVLWB. She is from Dettah, N.W.T. and a member Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
"With roads, we all know it will be used by people who will come through and try to destroy or use places that don't belong to them," Sundberg wrote.
"My grandfather always told me, if you build roads anywhere, the government will say they built it and now they own it… I will not let his happen to an area that our family uses every season for harvesting and feeding our family."
Opportunity for public comment is now closed. The information will be provided to the Mackenzie Valley Review Board for a decision. There is no timeline for that decision.
Once remediation of the former mines is completed, the land will be turned over to the Northwest Territories government.