Chamber of Mines Submission on Bill 38 – NWT Protected Areas Act

9 May 2019

Mr. Michal Ball
Committee Clerk
Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife, NT    X1A 2L9


Dear Mr. Ball,

Re: Submission on Bill 38 – NWT Protected Areas Act

On behalf of the minerals industry of the Northwest Territories, we are pleased to submit our thoughts and recommendations on Bill 38, the Protected Areas Act. We do so in the interests of sustaining and growing the NWT’s minerals industry in order to sustain the significant benefits it creates for all northerners today.

We support the notion of creating special protected areas that need protection from resource development to protect their specialness. However, to meet the needs of good governance, including transparency, balance and congruency with other laws and regulations, we provide the following recommendations:

  • Recommendation #1: Reducing and De-registering protected areas is good. The ability for a candidate area to be removed as a candidate for protection is necessary. People’s attitudes and society’s needs can change as can environmental considerations and technology. Any of these could remove the need for a protected area.
  • Recommendation #2: Maintain and strengthen the Public Registry. A fully transparent and comprehensive public registry needs to be in place for the consideration of any candidate protected area.
  • Recommendation #2a: Consider replacing the Protected Areas Act public registry with that of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board’s public registry, given that candidate protected areas are to be treated as “developments” under the MVRMA.
  • Recommendation #3: Recognize that a Protected Area is a “development” under MVRMA. Recognize, treat and assess a candidate protected area as a “development” under the MVRMA, providing it with the transparency and effort required of any other development in the NWT.
  • Recommendation #4: Bill 38 must require a mandatory Mineral and Energy Resources Assessment be conducted on any candidate protected area to protect rare mineral resources from sterilization, so as to protect and promote the economic well-being of residents and communities in the settlement areas, while having regard to the interests of all Canadians.
  • Recommendation #5: Remove the ability of this Bill to allow private donations to be made to candidate protected areas. Funding of candidate protected areas should come from the NWT’s own economic returns.
  • Recommendation #6 allow corridors for transportation, communications, and energy to be established and permitted in protected areas; ensure protected areas are not used to block such developments.
  • Recommendation #7: Change wording to allow corridors for transportation, communications (e.g., fibre optics), and energy (specifically electricity transmission and oil and gas energy pipelines) to be established and permitted in protected areas.
  • Recommendation #8: Change wording to allow that corridors could support exploration, mining, oil & gas development, and energy development beyond the boundaries of the protected area.
  • Recommendation #9: The Minister should not override Land Use Planning processes. They have been created under environmental legislation to conduct public processes to evaluate and designate land use. The Protected Areas Act must be subordinate to the Land Use Planning processes, and support them in conducting transparent, fulsome processes. Wording, as suggested, can be added to clarify this.
  • Recommendation #10: Let land use planning processes confirm the establishment of a protected area. In their absence, maintain potential protected areas under “candidate” status until a Land Use Plan is established.
  • Recommendation #11: Add wording to limit the size of protected areas in order to provide some balance between lands open and closed to development.

Attached please find our detailed submission.