Draft plan released for contentious lake area with energy, cultural resources

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has released a draft plan for managing a contentious area that holds oilsands resources and is also culturally significant to Indigenous People.

The plan for Moose Lake, which affects about 1,000 square kilometres north of Fort McMurray, was developed by the government, the Fort McKay First Nation and industry, Alvaro Pinto of the band’s sustainability department said Friday.

“It still allows development to occur, but there are limitations on land disturbance and water intake and location of major infrastructure,” said. “The plan as proposed does not sterilize the resources.”

The Fort McKay First Nation has long complained that oilsands development on its traditional lands were preventing members from exercising their treaty rights. Moose Lake, the band has argued, is one of the few places left where people can go to hunt, fish, berry-pick and gather medicinal plants.

The draft plan, covering an area of Crown land with a 10-kilometre radius around the band’s Moose Lake reserves, promises improved air-quality management and monitoring. Water allocations are to protect Fort McKay’s drinking water.

Healthy wildlife populations are also to be maintained.

The human footprint is to amount to no more than 1.5 per cent of the total area, the draft says. Low-impact seismic lines will not be included in that calculation.

Pinto said the band still has some concerns about what development will be allowed within the protected zone.

Although much of the land has been leased for energy development, there are no active oilsands operations on it.

About half of it has been leased for forestry. Commercial forestry within the 10-kilometre zone is banned for 30 years, although there is an option to review that after five years.

The band has been trying to preserve the lake and adjoining land since 2001.

The previous Conservative government under then-premier Jim Prentice signed a letter of intent to protect it. The current NDP government announced in 2016 it would try to resolve problems that prevented any progress.

The area became the subject of a lawsuit when the First Nation claimed it hadn’t been properly consulted over plans for an in situ oilsands mine. That lawsuit remains active, said Pinto.

A public comment period on the draft plan lasts until March 30.

Just Posted

Updated: Westlake home damaged in Tuesday afternoon fire

Woman and her cat escaped injury when fire hit home

Ponoka council to discuss labour contract

Town workers can serve 72-hour strike notice

Policy analyst to run for Alberta Liberals in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake byelection

Nick Jansen says health and education should be preserved

Sharing the road during motorcycle season

Being visible to other drivers is important

VIDEO: What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic’

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from… Continue reading

Ten Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivors meet in Las Vegas for NHL awards

HUMBOLDT, Sask. — Ten of the 13 survivors from the Humboldt Broncos… Continue reading

Triathletes young and old prepare for weekend event in Red Deer

Woody’s Triathlon goes Saturday and Sunday

Driver knocks over metal barricade, rolls several times in crash near Olds

A man is in hospital after his SUV trashed into the QEII… Continue reading

In tit-for-tat, Trump threatens more tariffs against China

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to… Continue reading

Commons Speaker says no to Tory calls for emergency debate on Canada-U.S. trade

OTTAWA — The official Opposition is calling for an emergency debate in… Continue reading

Accused homeowner to testify in own defence in Hamilton murder trial

HAMILTON — A Hamilton-area homeowner accused of gunning down a suspected truck… Continue reading

Opioid death toll nearly 4,000 last year, new data shows

OTTAWA — New government figures show that nearly 4,000 Canadians died from… Continue reading

Smoking hits new low; about 14 per cent of US adults light up

NEW YORK — Smoking in the U.S. has hit another all-time low.… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month