In March 2016, the Department of Transportation, GNWT submitted its proposal to the Wek’èezhìı Land and Water Board (WLWB) for an all-season road to Whatì, a project supported by the Tłı̨chǫ Government. The approximately 94 km gravel road would start near Behchokǫ̀ off Highway 3 and continue northwest to Whatì, crossing 15 tributaries and requiring four bridges. Its “footprint” would fall entirely within Wek’èezhìı. See map below (or view map in PDF here)
The proposed all-season road occurs within an area that provides important fish habitat and and harvest areas for Tłı̨chǫ communities. The WRRB provided comments on the proposed Tłı̨chǫ All- Season Road to the WLWB in May 2016. The Board’s initial submission focused on Tǫdzı (Boreal woodland caribou), Edzıre (Wood Bison) and other species at risk.
In July 2016, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review board (MVEIRB) decided to conduct an environmental assessment (EA) of the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road project. The Review Board’s Reasons for Decision outline the key areas of concern and rationale for referring the project to EA, including all-season access to the community of Whatì, impacts on existing social services, and impacts on caribou (boreal and barren-ground). The EA will look at the potential impacts from the road and measures that are proposed to lessen or prevent negative effects.
The environmental assessment process is now underway and will be carried out over the next few months. In August 2016, WRRB staff attended a scoping session, an important step in planning the EA to ensure there are clear objectives and an action plan. In a scoping session, the Review Board asks groups and members of the public to share their views of what the Review Board should focus on through the environmental assessment. Scoping sessions assist in identifying and prioritizing the key issues.
As well, a draft Terms of Reference and Adequacy Statement for the environmental assessment have been prepared. The Terms of Reference identifies for the developer which issues are important and describes the development project in detail, including potential impacts and mitigation measures that the developer is committing to. The Adequacy Statement outlines the additional information that the developer needs to provide to the Review Board and other parties before the EA proceeds to the next stage. The scoping stage has been completed and participants and interested organizations will be asked soon to register for party status. Registration for party status is now open and the WRRB has registered.