The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has approved the water licence for the Giant Mine cleanup team, and dismissed the millions of dollars in claims for compensation filed by several organizations and people.
The water licence was originally applied for in 2007; the Giant Mine cleanup team needed it to start cleaning up the contaminated former gold mine, located just outside Yellowknife. According to the cleanup team, it needs to block the area off from the public, interrupting boat launch access and plans for a mining museum, for roughly 10 years.
The board approved the remediation project's water licence on Aug. 7.
After years of environmental assessments, several organizations and individuals — including the City of Yellowknife — filed compensation claims, citing thousands of dollars in losses and damages partly because the cleanup team would need to block off the boat launch to properly clean up the mine site.
But in a written decision dated July 28, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board indicated that many of the claims applicants did not provide enough evidence to warrant compensation.
"Several claimants alleged losses or damages and provided little to no evidence to support their claims for damages or the monetary amounts claimed," the board wrote in its decision. "Claimants cannot simply state that they will suffer losses and expect to be awarded compensation."
Claimants cannot simply state that they will suffer losses and expect to be awarded compensation. - Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
The water licence must now be approved by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Dan Vandal. He has until the second week of September to respond.
City cannot file claim 'in name of residents'
The City of Yellowknife filed two separate claims for compensation, one related to a new water pipeline for residents, the other related to recreational boat access.
It wanted to be paid $1.3 million for each year public access to the city's boat launch and sailing club areas is interrupted. The city was also claiming more than $8.6 million to help replace an aging underwater pipeline it uses to draw the city's drinking water from the Yellowknife River. The city already received $25.8 million from Infrastructure Canada for the pipeline.
The city's claims were dismissed because the city's water pipeline needed to be replaced regardless of the remediation work. The board also said the city could not file a claim for compensation "in the name of its residents," as the damage and loss from the boat launch access was all about the residents of Yellowknife.
'Adverse effects ... entirely predictable'
The Yellowknife Historical Society filed a claim for compensation for more than $237,000 for the cost of moving some of its historical items near the Giant Mine town site and storing them during the remediation process. It also cited a loss because the remediation project would delay it opening a mining museum.
The society is sub-leasing that land from the City of Yellowknife where it plans to build a museum, coffee shop, gift shop and interpretive centre at the old Giant Mine recreation hall.
The board dismissed the society's claim because it started sub-leasing the land from the city a few years after the Giant Mine Remediation Project filed for its water licence. The board said the society "knew or ought to have known" about the team's remediation efforts and what that meant for the town site and its plans for a museum.
"The [Yellowknife Historical Society] did not plan for the impacts of this reasonably foreseeable remediation on its operations," the board wrote in its decision.
"The adverse effects for which the [society] now claims compensation were entirely predictable."
Plan needed for alternate boat launch: board
Twenty-one recreational boaters that are members of the Great Slave Sailing Club submitted claims as well.
Their compensation ask for loss and damages ranged from $10,000 to nearly $200,000 for things like moving their sailing boats out of the area, storing them elsewhere, and fixing trailers to actually make that happen.
The board dismissed those claims mostly because its added a condition to the remediation team's water licence: the team must have a plan to "design and construct an alternate public boat launch in the area, or ensure a level of access similar to that available."