Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 127

127 Arctic Yearbook 2015 to the federal minister; 4) finally, section 14 will allow for exemption of projects that come up for renewal—they can get approved without having any YESAB assessment. (Council of Yukon First Nations 2014). These changes are seen as a breach of agreements by the First Nations: The four problematic and substantive amendments […] give undue power to the federal and Yukon governments and upset the tripartite balance inherent in YESAA as currently written. In supporting these amendments, Canada and Yukon have put up roadblocks to meaningful collaboration, and these actions have strained intergovernmental relations to a degree rarely seen since the Final Agreements were signed (Joseph, R. 2015 [Chief Roberta Joseph of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation]). Unlike the NWT, Yukon already had a single impact review board, so in this case, the issue was to facilitate project approval by imposing tighter deadlines and tighter federal control over the process. The changes were thus not as drastic but nonetheless they give to the federal government a tighter control on the YESAB. The Yukon First Nations have threatened to take court action but at this time have not filed a lawsuit. In Nunavut (Bills S-6 and C-47) In Nunavut too, there was no need to merge boards since there is only one land claim agreement. The focus was entirely on shortening the approval timeline, and that goal was achieved with bills C-47 and S-6. Bill C-47 was the first federal bill concerning Nunavut to be part of the Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes. It modified the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act in 2013. Bill S-6 amended the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act. The bills, among other things, introduced timelines to speed up the review process. They did not cause many reactions. Bill S-6 had support from both the Nunavut Water Board (NWB) and the Nunavut Impact and Review Board (NIRB), since, for the Nunavut Water Board, “The Nunavut portion of Bill S-6 does not affect the land use planning and project assessment aspects of the Nunavut regulatory system” (NWB 2015). The only concern raised has been about the timelines for the water licensing process. The Nunavut Water Board thinks that these provisions might not be “sufficiently flexible to account for the issues beyond the NWB’s control that can—and regularly do—affect the Board’s ability to process applications in compliance with the 9 month time limit proposed under s.55.2” (NWB 2015). The NIRB shares this concern (NIRB 2015). According to the NIRB and the NWB, consultation was adequate and their proposals were taken into consideration (NWB 2015; NIRB 2015). In fact, the only real concerns in Nunavut have been about whether funding will be adequate for the board to review a project in a timely manner. These boards are indeed federally funded, and there has been ongoing dispute with the federal government over their inadequate funding. Following the lawsuit from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), which was amongst other things blaming the underfunding of these boards, the federal government recently announced a substantial increase in funding for all Nunavut boards (Nunatsiaq News 2015). The reform of the regulatory system in Nunavut has thus been much less controversial than in the NWT and Yukon : the process has had full support from NTI, the organization representing the Rodon & Therrien