Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another twist of the Canpotex tale

“We have always said that we are not against any development, but when development happens we want to see it done right…We just don’t feel that this is right for a project of that scope.”-- The main thrust of the Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla request for a rigorous review of the environmental review process for the proposed Canpotex potash terminal.

Monday brought yet another new development to the quest for a potash terminal for Ridley Island, with word that the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla bands had filed an application in Federal Court to commence litigation related to the proposed potash terminal and any seeking a rigorous review of any environmental assessment work required for the project.

Chief Counsellors Helin and Leighton outlined in their application that no consultation had been arranged with any of the Federal Ministries related to the proposed project and that the Federal Government has not conducted a proper consultation regarding the assessment, of particular concern to the First Nations is the decision to use a lower review process, as opposed to comprehensive review process they prefer. They also expressed concern that the lower review was taken without proper consultation.

The development will offer up concerns for those local residents who have been trying to provide a smooth path for Canpotex to decide on Rupert for its proposed port development, a process that Mayor Jack Mussallem was trying to keep on track on Monday with his declaration that he hoped that there would be a quick resolution to this latest situation.

The surprise announcement of Monday comes almost one month after the Canpotex Open House at the Lester Centre, which was attended by a large number of North Coast residents, including representatives of the First Nations who now have sought the judicial review.

During that open house, the representatives of Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla made general references to the goal of cooperation and communication , and engaged in a discussion session regarding perceptions in the community that the First Nations were anti business, a suggestion that the First Nations representatives described as propaganda and said was not true.

At that time there didn’t appear to be any direct reference to concerns over environmental assessments and such, if so not publicly at any rate. It’s a question that CFTK TV apparently raised on Monday, though no reply to the inquiry was provided at that time to try and clear up the matter.

Today's announcement comes after the Potash Company suffered a streak of disappointing news last week on its financial front which may also factor in to any decision. Since that September meeting in Prince Rupert Canpotex has been holding to its timetable of later this year before a decision on whether to proceed in Prince Rupert or Vancouver has to be made.

There will most likely be much more background and perhaps some feedback to come over the next few days over the request for the inquiry and what impact it may have on the process involved, on how Canpotex decides to proceed with their plans and what reaction locally will stem from the developments of today.

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