A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.'s Sheerness Mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. A British Columbia First Nation wants the federal government to join in the environmental review of a proposed coal mining project in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

B.C. First Nation joins calls for Ottawa to step in on review of Alberta coal project

A British Columbia First Nation has joined calls for the federal government to step in on the environmental review of a proposed open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

The Ktunaxa First Nation, the first group outside Alberta to ask for Ottawa’s involvement, says it has little faith in the province’s ability to hear their concerns over Montem Resources’ Tent Mountain project. They say it would have effects beyond the provincial boundary, impairing their ability to practice their treaty rights.

“Due to the location, size and lifespan of the proposed project, the (Ktunaxa) consider that it will likely cause significant adverse impacts on the Ktunaxa Nation’s Indigenous rights and interests,” says the letter written to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

Montem Resources is proposing to resume mining on a site near Coleman, Alta., last mined in 1983. Documents filed with Alberta’s regulator say the company would only need 750 hectares.

But the Ktunaxa say those documents gloss over the fact that Tent Mountain would dump waste rock and water in B.C. and needs permits from B.C. authorities. They also point out Tent Mountain would be immediately adjacent to as many as four other open-pit coal mines.

“The potential for the project to contribute to regional cumulative effects is therefore also a deep concern,” the letter states.

The letter points out the mine comes suspiciously close to the production threshold that would automatically trigger a federal review.

“This raises the prospect that the project description has been tailored specifically to avoid a federal (assessment).”

The Ktunaxa say their experience in the federal-provincial review of Benga Mining’s Grassy Mountain project leaves them with little faith in a review conducted only by Alberta.

“Without a federal environmental assessment, the Alberta government will not conduct any, much less meaningful and legally sufficient, consultation with the (Ktunaxa) to address and accommodate for the Project’s impacts,” the letter says.

The Alberta government has announced plans for a series of five regional meetings with Alberta First Nations, but no plans for B.C.

The letter says Ktunaxa people fear losing that land for treaty-guaranteed traditional purposes including hunting, gathering, collecting medicines, ceremonies and cultural continuity.

“These effects will be compounded by the cumulative disturbance to the regional landscape,” they write.

Montem Resources did not respond to a request for comment.

The Ktunaxa are only the latest group to request Ottawa join the assessment. The Kainai and Siksika First Nations in southern Alberta, as well as environmental groups and local landowners, have asked for the same.

Montem has stated in investor materials that the federal assessment agency has already ruled that federal participation isn’t required.

However, an email from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to Montem suggests that’s not the whole story. The company was told the minister could still designate the project for a federal review.

“The Minister of Environment and Climate Change (has) the authority to designate the project if, in the Minister’s opinion, the carrying out of project activities may cause adverse environmental effects or public concerns related to those effects warrant the designation,” the email says.

Wilkinson has until June 1 to respond to those requests. A spokeswoman in his office said the decision will likely come around that date.

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read