Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Sahtu Office to monitor Oil & Gas delayed....

Monitoring office faces delay

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 30, 2008

RADILIH KOE'/FORT GOOD HOPE - The Yamoga Land Corp. in Fort Good Hope is moving forward with plans to open an office that will monitor the activities of oil, gas and mining companies exploring around Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake, despite difficulties finding staff for the office.

The corporation, which represents 85 per cent of Sahtu Land Claims Agreement beneficiaries living in the K'ahsho Got'ine district, pulled ads for the position of manager in April due to a lack of interest, which surprised Arthur Tobac, vice-president of Yamoga.

"Maybe we're not communicating what our needs are properly," said Tobac. "When we do the ads, they just say that we need a person to manage the office, but they don't say what the office is for."

Given the increase in activity in the region and the concerns of the people, Tobac expected somebody would show an interest.

"I know a lot of people out there are very environmentally sensitive," he said.

The office, which will be dubbed a "Lands and Resources" office and will hopefully open in one year, came at the request of beneficiaries, who first noted researchers with the Mackenzie Gas Project working in the area in 2004. Helicopters flying overhead raised concerns about the project's effects on the environment.

"There was an increase in the number of people on the land," said Tobac. "They didn't have any idea what they were doing out there. There was a lot aircraft movement and there were concerns that it might have an impact on the wildlife, like caribou or moose."

The office will keep a file on each company, "so our office can reveal this information back to our beneficiaries when they want to know," said Tobac.

According to Tom Forbes, business manager for Yamoga, oil and gas outfits exploring in the area include Kodiak Petroleum, BG Canada, Petro Canada and MGM Energy, as well as mining company Sanatana Diamonds, which has been working in the area for three years.

While the office won't have the authority to deny these or any other companies access to the land (that responsibility falls to Environment Canada and the Sahtu Land and Water Board), the office will play a helpful role, said Forbes.

"If there's two companies doing work in the same region, and they each want to build an access a road, we would try to get them to build one road for both companies, to reduce the footprint made by these projects."

There still remains the issue of where to locate the office. One option Tobac is considering is asking the Fort Good Hope Charter Community for room in its new band office, which began construction this week.

According Edna Tobac, project co-ordinator for the band office, the general contractor for the job, Weitzel Construction, has indicated that final inspection of the site could happen in the third week of March.

"You never know," she added.

"It might be done sooner."

But Fred Rabisca, senior administrative officer for the band, said so far he has not had conversations with Tobac or the corporation about giving Yamoga space.


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