After several hearings before the Gwich’in Land and Water Board and requesting a judicial review of the Inuvik Wind project in relation to how the project was approved, Nihtat Gwich’in Council has rescinded its request for the review following a majority vote by its membership.
NGC members voted 15 to 6, with one abstention, in favour of a motion to rescind the judicial review during the designated Gwich’in organizations Jan. 16 annual general assembly.
“Initially when the decision was made, the council wanted the membership to be informed,” said NGC President Robert Charlie. “The members decided they wanted to cancel the judicial review, so the project will move ahead.
“Nihtat was always in favour of the project, we weren’t against it, we just had some questions on the decision. But we’re past that now.”
Initially expected to be in operation by 2020, the single wind turbine is now expected to be completed by 2022. The 80 metre-tall structure will stand 12 kilometres east of Inuvik on Highpoint and is projected to provide up to 30 per cent of Inuvik’s power requirements.
NGC had initially raised an objection July 30 to the GLWB towards the project going forward, stating the GNWT did not have the legal right to hand the land over to Northwest Territories Electrical Corporation because several pieces of legislation were not followed, particularly the Reindeer Grazing Reserve Order, which sets aside the area for conservation.
At the time, then NGC President Jozef Carnogursky told Inuvik Drum NGC was never against the Wind Turbine itself, but wanted to ensure the proper legal framework was followed. The complaint was dismissed by the GLWB Oct. 29. But on Nov. 30, the NGC filed for a judicial review on the same legal argument.
GTC Grand Chief Ken Smith said he was happy the membership pulled the judicial review and was looking forward to seeing the project go forward.
“We are pleased with Nihtat council following the direction that was provided to them by their annual general assembly on Saturday,” he said. “Now that the judicial review has been withdrawn, the proponents can go about their preparations and the planning required for the final acquisition of any and all permits they require and along with that is the planning of the procurement of the equipment they are going to require, as well as the planning of the contract packages they need to construct the facility.
“It provides a path forward for us and the Nihtat Gwich’in to work with the NTEC to help construct this important energy project for the town of Inuvik while utilizing and expanding the skills and capabilities of Gwich’in businesses and participants.”