The Grays Bay Road and Port (GBRP) Project is a proposed transportation corridor that will permanently connect a deep-water port at Grays Bay on the Coronation Gulf to the northern terminus of the Tibbitt-Contwoyto Winter Road at the former Jericho Mine, Nunavut. The project is being jointly proposed by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA) and the Government of Nunavut (GN). The project has been assigned NIRB File No. 17XN011 and will be subject to screening following submission supplemental information in July 2017.
In support of advancing the design of the project and of assessing effects of the project on the biophysical and socio-economic environment, additional studies are required. The KIA and GN have contracted Nunami Stantec Limited (Nunami Stantec) to complete additional studies. Nunami Stantec is therefore applying for a research licence from the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI) to undertake limited field-based data collection and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) studies in the Kitikmeot Region during 2017, as summarized below:
• Vessel-based marine mammal and seabird survey in marine waters within 15 km of the proposed port site at Grays Bay/Aariaq;
• Collection of zooplankton, benthos and sediment samples from the bed of the ocean in areas where port infrastructure may be located;
• Field observations of topography, soils and other environmental features at the proposed Grays Bay Port site to assist with siting of port infrastructure (e.g., airstrip, fuel storage facility, buildings);
• Placement of wildlife observation cameras at locations around the Grays Bay Port site and at proposed bridge crossings of two rivers near the former Jericho mine;
• Collection of baseline noise data at the proposed port site and near the former Jericho mine using recording equipment;
• Observation of the southernmost 10 km of proposed road including collection of information about physical characteristics at the water crossings within this section;
• Assessment of fish habitat and fish species from three rivers crossed by the southernmost 10 km of the proposed road;
• Meetings with Inuit participants in Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven to verify previously collected Inuit Quajimajatuqangit; and
• Two workshops with knowledge holders regarding potential risks to caribou and possible mitigations.
The research will involve two field programs in the project area between late August and mid- September 2017: a six-day marine and land based program will be conducted at the port site and within Grays Bay/Aariaq; and a second five-day program will be conducted along the southernmost 10 km of the proposed road between the former Jericho Mine and the Burnside River/Kiluhiktuq. Researchers conducting the northern program will stay aboard the MV Martin Bergmann, which in addition to providing crew accommodation, will conduct the marine mammal and seabird surveys. Researchers working on the southern program will be accommodated by WPC Resources at the Lupin Mine camp. Researchers will travel between the Lupin Mine and research sites by helicopter each day. The results of all research will be documented in reports issued to support draft and final Environmental Impact Statements for the GBRP project. Proposed research requires a licence from the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI).Additional research approvals being sought include a Wildlife Research Permit from the Government of Nunavut Department of Environment, and a Licence to Fish for Scientific Purposes and Animal Care Permit from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Additional information about each research task is provided below.
Marine Mammal and Seabird Survey
This survey will involve a marine mammal biologist, a seabird specialist and two Inuit assistants taking observations from the deck of the MV Martin Bergmann while it completes low speed transects in the marine waters adjacent to Grays Bay/Aariaq. The transects are to be approximately 15 km in length from the shore out to sea and each transect will be spaced approximately 2 km apart. The total length of all transects will be 250 km. The vessel will travel each transect at an approximate speed of 8-9 knots. Observations will be taken during approximately 8 hours each day. Observers will scan the water surface and area above to document the presence of marine mammals and seabirds. Observations will be recorded and all sightings will be analyzed to calculate relative density of species observed. Observation will follow whale watching guidelines issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Collection of Nearshore Zooplankton, Benthos and Sediment samples at the Port Site
Additional information about the zooplankton, other organisms and plants within the waters and sediments of the port site at Grays Bay is required to better understand conditions and develop mitigation measures. Upon completion of the marine mammal survey, a fisheries biologist will collect samples from the deck of the MV Martin Bergmann. Zooplankton samples will be collected by towing a plankton net behind the vessel, while benthos and sediment samples will be collected by lowering a sampling tool to the sea floor to collect sediments, including benthos. Zooplankton and benthic samples will be filtered on board, preserved and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Eighteen zooplankton samples will be collected while twenty-seven benthos/sediment samples will be collected, totaling less than one kg. Results from the laboratory analysis will be used to help with design and mitigations for port infrastructure which will be presented in the Environmental Impact Statement.
Field Observations at Port Site
Two engineers will visit the proposed port site on foot to observe topography, soils and other features to assist with the siting of proposed port infrastructure on land (e.g., fuel storage, administration and camp buildings, airstrip, warehouses). The engineers, along with an Inuit wildlife monitor will travel to the port site daily from Kugluktuk for two days to document conditions. No samples will be collected. The results of their observations will be used to inform the preliminary siting and design of infrastructure at the port site.
Installation of Wildlife Cameras
One wildlife biologist will accompany the engineers during their site visit to install up to 10 wildlife cameras at locations around the port site. Another 10 cameras will be installed at locations along the southernmost 10 km of the proposed road, in conjunction with the site visits described below. The Reconyx cameras will be installed on posts and will be programmed to take pictures at regular intervals and upon detection of motion from an animal. The camera batteries last 4- 6 months after which they will need to be replaced. A return visit to replace batteries may occur the winter; however, it may not occur until Spring 2018. The intent of the cameras is to document any wildlife that may use the port and southern road areas near proposed bridge crossings.
Noise monitoring equipment will be temporarily installed at the port site and southern road location near the Jericho mine to collect noise data and establish baseline noise conditions at each location. One acoustic engineer will attend each site with the field crews to install a Type 1 sound level meter and weather station. This equipment will be left in place for approximately 4 days and then retrieved. Data will be retrieved from the equipment and analyzed to describe existing noise levels at each location.
Road Alignment Observations
Two engineers will travel to the southernmost 10 km section of proposed road between the former Jericho Mine and Burnside River during four days. The engineers will conduct aerial reconnaissance of the route, setting down every 1 km to confirm terrain conditions and at each of 3 watercourse crossings to evaluate terrain, topography and other factors affecting the design of water crossing structures. The evaluation of terrain conditions may include the collection of 1 kg soil samples every 1 km and at the crossing sites. Soil samples will be submitted for testing of geological properties to aid in design of the road way and crossing structures. No other sampling is proposed. The engineers will be accompanied by an Inuit wildlife monitor and acoustic engineer to set up the wildlife cameras and sound recording equipment described above.
Fish and Fish Habitat Assessment
One fisheries biologist, accompanied by another team member and one Inuit wildlife monitor will complete the fish and fish habitat assessments at each of the three watercourses crossed by the southernmost section of the proposed road during two days. The assessment will characterize fish habitat and fish species present at the proposed road crossing site on each of the three rivers. The assessment methodology will be based on accepted assessment standards and will include site photos and measurements of the channel morphology, substrate composition and riparian vegetation. Fish sampling will be undertaken using accepted methods including backpack electrofishing and baited minnow traps. The assessment results will be analyzed to evaluate the available fish habitat in terms of spawning, rearing, overwintering and migration potential.
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Program.
KIA owns Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit studies previously conducted by MMG in relation to the Izok Corridor Project (ICP), which included the same transportation infrastructure as proposed for the GBRP Project. These reports have not been subject to verification by participants for their use for the GBRP Project. The current program proposes to meet with the participants included in the MMG studies to review the reports, update information as may be necessary and approve the use of the reports for use in the environmental review of the GBRP project. One two- day workshop is proposed to be held in Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven between October and December 2017.
During winter 2018, the proponents intend to invite Inuit, First Nation and Métis IQ/TK holders to participate in two workshops focused on reviewing IQ/TK material about the Bathurst Caribou herd, identifying and evaluating risks to the project from the project and recommending mitigations to reduce risk. These workshops will be held in a community to be determined.