The Fort McKay First Nation is hopeful the government Alberta will make the right decision regarding Moose Lake.
On Tuesday, at the Edmonton Court of Appeals, lawyers for the FMFN made their argument to overturn the Alberta Energy Regulator’s approval of Prosper’s Rigel project – considering their Moose Lake plan.
Moose Lake is located 65 kilometres northwest of Fort McKay and the plan manages access and development by protecting the area’s ecological and cultural integrity.
Chief Mel Grandjamb tells Mix News the plan is the best path to grow industry responsibly in a sacred area – while protecting treaty rights.
“This is about responsible resource development in our Treaty lands and by having this plan in place – it’s a win-win for Alberta. So, let’s get Alberta back to work, let’s get the ball rolling and have Mr. Kenney cross the finish line and approve this plan.”
The Rigel project was approved by AER last year – inside the area specified by the Moose Lake plan – despite the fact the plan was still in development.
The project’s impacts on traditional land use and cumulative effects are said to be significant.
The Moose Lake plan is the result of ongoing collaborative efforts between the FMFN, industry and government.
Grandjamb notes it ensures the FMFN’s involvement in all future development.
“This plan will enable the community of Fort McKay, along with government and industry to sit at the table. This plan identifies the parameters of development. And to go back to my common phrase, this is about doing responsible resource development.”
Among First Nations, Fort McKay is a leader in oil sands development and Grandjamb adds he wants to make clear this is not about being anti-industry
He says is about the fact that Moose Lake is the last undisturbed wilderness within their traditional lands.
“Where we practice our cultural activities, hunting, trapping, harvesting. So, this is the last wilderness we occupy and it’s very important we maintain some form of preservation there.”
Once approved, the plan will minimize industry impacts on the area, provide regulators with requirements for land use decisions and create certainty for the industry on responsible development of resources in the area.