Pond Inlet council sides with Baffinland, premier in regulatory dispute
Letter of support to minister comes shortly after announcement of federal funding for harbour
Pond Inlet's hamlet council is joining Nunavut's premier in supporting Baffinland Iron Mines' request that its proposal to expand the shipping window for the Mary River iron ore mine bypass a stage of the territory's regulatory process.
Baffinland's latest proposal for its Mary River mine asks to ship iron ore 10 months of the year from Milne Inlet on North Baffin Island to Europe, instead of only during the summer months.
The Nunavut Planning Commission says that doesn't fit with the current land use plan for the area.
The mining company can ask NPC for an amendment to the land use but instead it has exercised its option to ask Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister Bernard Valcourt for an exemption to bypass the planning commission and have its proposal assessed by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB).
In a letter to Bernard Valcourt dated June 30, Pond Inlet mayor Charlie Inuarak says he and most of the hamlet council feel the best way to address the potential impacts of winter shipping would be for NIRB to hold a public hearing in the community, which is located 160 kilometres from the mine.
"This would help community members voice their concerns in a timely manner," wrote Inuarak.
Letter follows federal announcement of funding for harbour
The mayor's letter comes less than a week after Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq visited Pond Inlet to announce the federal government is investing up to $30 million in a marine and small craft harbour in the community.
But two Nunavut land claim organizations, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, say bypassing the planning commission would go against the spirit and intent of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. They're asking Valcourt to deny Baffinland's request and instead work with the planning commission to produce an amendment application as soon as possible.
The mayor of Pond Inlet has not yet responded to a request for comment.