Terms of Reference
The Proposed Terms of Reference is with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for review and a decision by the Minister. We expect a decision in the coming months and if approved, or approved with conditions, an environmental assessment for the Community Access Road can begin. Stay tuned for more information.
Read more about the Terms of Reference.
Field Studies Update
Air Quality Program
In May 2021, we successfully installed monitoring equipment in MFFN to better understand air quality and weather conditions. Two MFFN community members were hired as monitors and trained to use the equipment. This study will collect data on current air quality within the community so that the team can assess and predict future air emissions generated from the Project. Up to one year of air quality data will be collected within the MFFN community to characterize existing conditions for the environmental assessment.
Bat and Remote Camera Installation Update
The Bat Monitoring Program and the Remote Camera Installation Program happened at the same time (from June 7 to June 16, 2021). For the bat program, audio recording devices were installed to document bat species presence and distribution in the Local Study Area. For the Remote Camera Installation Program, motion-sensitive cameras were installed in the Local Study Area to document the presence and seasonal patterns of caribou (atik), wolves (maihgan), moose (mooz) and other animals. One MFFN community member was hired as field support staff. The Field Crew completed this work on June 15, 2021.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the Discussion Guide and provided insights about where and when to set up, or avoid setting up, recording devices and cameras. The feedback we received was very helpful to our field crews.
Upcoming Field Studies
To help us understand the existing conditions (quality and quantity) of the environment, fish and wildlife along the proposed alternative routes, scientific field studies will be taking place. The information we collect through these studies will be strengthened by the Indigenous Knowledge shared with us by Marten Falls First Nation and the neighbouring Indigenous communities.
Following is a high-level overview of upcoming field study programs and their approximate timelines*:
- Groundwater and Geochemistry (Mid Summer): Installation of monitoring wells so that we can assess groundwater fluctuations, seasonal changes in water quality and develop an understanding of current conditions.
- Surface Water (Summer): Assessment of select water crossings along the route alternatives to understand current conditions including seasonal flows, drainage patterns, and water and sediment quality. This program will take place at the same time as the Fish and Fish Habitat Program.
- Vegetation, Physiography and Peatlands (Late Summer / Early Fall): Collection of information related to forest and wetland plants, soil conditions and geologic features to develop an understanding of the current conditions. This includes wetlands and muskeg.
- Fish and Fish Habitat (Summer): Characterization of fish communities and habitats to understand current conditions at a number of locations along the route alternatives. This program will take place at the same time as the Surface Water Program. Some examples include: walleye (okaas), lake sturgeon (nameh) and northern pike (nahwabe).
- Fall Waterfowl Aerial Survey (Fall): Estimation of distribution, number and density of Waterfowl, Shorebirds and Raptors in the Local Study Area, at various times during the year. Some examples include: mallard (shesheeb) and osprey (saagwadamo).
Detailed notices will be provided when the dates for the field programs are confirmed. For the upcoming summer programs, we are looking for input to help us confirm the timing and sampling locations. We will be following up with a Discussion Guide specific to each field program to provide more information about what the program is, why it’s important to the Community Access Road, and what kind of feedback we are looking for.
*Timelines and programs are approximate and may shift; we will provide updates as required.
Featured Topic: Groundwater
Groundwater is an important topic that is being looked at closely. Groundwater refers to any water found below the Earth’s surface; typically groundwater is held in aquifers. When surface water—from creeks, rivers and/ or lakes—seeps through the Earth’s surface, it becomes groundwater. This means that what happens to surface water can affect groundwater.
The Community Access Road has the potential to affect groundwater both directly (e.g., spills) and indirectly (through surface water). Beginning this summer, as a first step in better understanding the potential effects the Community Access Road may have, we will conduct field studies and drill wells to understand the current quality and quantity of groundwater in the Local Study Area. In the coming weeks, we will be distributing a Discussion Guide to Indigenous communities, Tribal Councils and Provincial Territorial Organizations to explain more about the upcoming Groundwater and Geochemistry field program, and to outline the insights we are looking for to strengthen this important field program.
In the coming months, we will be sharing a series of videos to help people learn about key areas of interest that are being studied, including how Indigenous Knowledge is weaved throughout and considered. Release dates and topics will be announced soon through our mailing list and posted on our website.
Be in touch (contact information is below) and let us know which studies are of most interest to you. Here is a snapshot of topics that we plan to showcase, but we want to hear what you are interested in learning about:
- Social and Economic Topics
- Wildlife (e.g., bats, amphibians and reptiles, furbearers including wolverines (Wishkobish,Wiingwa’waake))
- Ungulates (mammals with hooves like caribou (atik) and moose (mooz))
- Birds (e.g., osprey (saagwadamo) and bald eagle (mikisi))
- Physiography, Geology, Terrain / Soils, Vegetation
- Land and Resource Use
- Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Interests
- Human Health and Community Safety
- Archaeological and Cultural Heritage