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

Is the fate of Red Deer’s Parsons House solely in the hands of the province?

Demolition of old police station next door to begin this fall

Fundraiser to help keep kids warm in Blackfalds

Community Warmth Fall Fundraiser

Piper Creek Foundation gets a new name

Red Deer subsidized housing program for seniors

Reveen returns to Red Deer

Presented by Friends of Red Deer Regional Hospital

2019 Winter Games will transform Red Deer: Olympic organizer

Team leader behind 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics provides inspirational pep talk

WATCH: Red Deer students take part in annual run

Dawe/St. Pat’s Run reaches 40th anniversary

Smile Cookie fundraiser campaign for Reading College kicks off

Fundraising campaign runs Sept. 12-18 for program that helps children improve their reading

‘Nightmare that won’t end’: Storm evacuees can’t return yet

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Hundreds of people waited in long lines for water… Continue reading

New bridge collapses into river in rural Saskatchewan hours after opening

HYAS, Sask. — A rural politician in eastern Saskatchewan says he’s at… Continue reading

Halifax researchers tag great white shark in Atlantic Canada for first time

HALIFAX — For the first time in Atlantic Canadian waters, scientists have… Continue reading

Liberal riding association president blindsided by MP’s defection

OTTAWA — The president of an Ontario Liberal riding association says he… Continue reading

Pope gives bishops more decision-making options

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that ordinary Catholics should… Continue reading

Hurricane rating system fails to account for deadly rain

TRENTON, N.C. — When meteorologists downgraded Hurricane Florence from a powerful Category… Continue reading

Glad company: Trailer for Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

LOS ANGELES — A beloved nanny is preparing to take to the… Continue reading

Most Read