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Participant Funding Program – Aboriginal Funding Envelope
Funding Review Committee's Report

Allocation of Funds for Phase II of the Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project

The Participant Funding Program (PFP) was established pursuant to subsection 58(1.1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), which states: For the purposes of this Act, the Minister shall establish a participant funding program to facilitate the participation of the public in comprehensive studies, mediations and assessments by review panels.

A funding review committee (FRC) was established independent of the environmental assessment (EA) of the Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project (the Project). The purpose of the FRC was to assess the applications received under the PFP–Aboriginal Funding Envelope (AFE) for Phase II of the Project, and to provide recommendations to the President of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) on whether funding should be provided, and if so, in what amount.

Under the AFE for this project, a total of $90,000 was made available to support Aboriginal participation and related consultation activities in the EA, including provision of input to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Comprehensive Study Report (CSR), as well as participation in meetings associated with the EA of the Project.

In addition to the federal funding being made available under the PFPAFE to assist Aboriginal groups to participate in the EA process for the Project, significant funding for this purpose is being provided by the Government of Saskatchewan.

On February 18, 2011, the FRC met to review six applications received under the PFPAFE, requesting a total of $153,341.37. The FRC members were Bruce Morgan, Executive Advisor to the Vice-President, Operations Sector, within the Agency, acting as Committee Chairperson and Patrick Duxbury, Environmental Assessment Consultant.

Background

Shore Gold Inc.'s Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project is a 40 000 to 120 000-tonne per day diamond mine located approximately 60 kilometres east of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The Project consists of an open pit at the Star Kimberlite site and potentially a second open pit at the Orion South Kimberlite site. The Project also includes the construction of processing facilities and associated infrastructure to commercially extract diamonds. Extensive groundwater extraction will be required to operate the mine; resulting in an estimated 150 000 to 300 000 cubic metres per day of groundwater being discharged into the Saskatchewan River.

The Project is included in the federal Major Resource Projects Regulatory Improvements Initiative and is being reviewed by means of a comprehensive study (CS). Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada are responsible authorities (RAs) under the Act for this project. Environment Canada and Health Canada are expert federal authorities for the assessment. In light of the recent amendments to the Act, the Agency is fulfilling the duties and functions of the RAs during the CS. The Project is also subject to review under Saskatchewan's Environmental Assessment Act and the EA is being managed as a co-operative federal-provincial EA as per the Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on EA Cooperation.

A federal notice of commencement for the Project was posted on July 10, 2009. The Agency is currently working with other federal departments and the EA Branch of Saskatchewan Environment to identify the proposed scope of the project and the assessment. Public input to this phase of the EA closed on August 20, 2010.

On August 27, 2010, notification letters were sent to the identified Aboriginal groups that might potentially participate in the EA process to inform them of the funding that would be made available for Phase II of the EA process.

Eligibility

Under the PFPAFE, funding may be provided to Aboriginal groups to support their input to an EA and/or to support their engagement in consultation activities with the federal government. These activities must be linked to the EA of a proposed project through a CS, mediation or review panel.

Eligible recipients must plan to engage in Aboriginal consultation activities with the federal government that are linked to the EA of the Project and be able to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • have a direct, local interest in the Project, such as a residence in the area or historical or cultural ties to the area likely to be affected by the Project;
  • have community knowledge or Aboriginal traditional knowledge relevant to the EA; or
  • have expert information relevant to the anticipated environmental effects of the Project.

The applications received were deemed to have met at least one of these criteria; therefore, all of the applicants were found to be eligible for funding.

Under the PFPAFE, applicants can request funding for expenditures related to:

  • professional fees;
  • staff salaries and benefits (Consultation or Participation coordinator);
  • travel expenses;
  • honoraria for Elders and Chiefs to attend meetings and functions
  • ceremonial offerings related to receiving traditional knowledge in relation to the environmental assessment
  • administration and reporting;
  • other expenses related to local collection and distribution of information;
  • office supplies and telephone charges;
  • rental of office space and meeting rooms;
  • other staff salaries and benefits
  • legal fees;
  • general media and advertising and promotion;
  • purchase of information material; and
  • other detailed expenses, with supporting information.

Rationale for Allocation

In reviewing the six applications and in reaching its conclusions and recommendations, the FRC took into consideration a number of factors, including the following:

  • the quality, clarity and content of the applications, particularly with respect to the alignment of each applicant's work plan and proposed activities;
  • the eligible activities for Phase II of the EA process for the Project;
  • the funding being provided by the Government of Saskatchewan; and
  • the total available AFE funding provided for this EA.

Overall, the FRC was pleased with the quality of the applications and believed that the funding requested was reasonable. Nevertheless, to align with the total available AFE funding being provided for this EA, the FRC recommends modest reductions to some of the budgets proposed in the applications.

Recommendation

The FRC recommends awarding a total of $108,000 under the PFPAFE to support the EA participation and consultation activities proposed by the five applicants as follows:

  • $26,100 to Archerwill Métis Local #58 Inc. (on behalf of Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Eastern Region 2 and Saskatchewan Western Region 2);
  • $25,000 to Muskoday First Nation;
  • $25,000 to James Smith Cree Nation;
  • $15,672.50 to Cumberland House Cree Nation; and
  • $16,227.50 to Red Earth Cree Nation.

The FRC notes that the recommended allocation of $108,000 exceeds the amount of $90,000 that was originally made available under the AFE for this project. The FRC feels that the additional funding is justified given the relevance and usefulness of the activities proposed by the Aboriginal groups. The FRC also notes that the recommended allocation remains within the twenty percent margin allowed under the PFP.

The FRC recommends that no funding be provided to Clarence Natomagan. The FRC noted that while the nature of the work proposed by the applicant seems related to the EA, the application was incomplete, which prevented the FRC from being able to determine how the proposed activities would contribute to the EA. Furthermore, from a consultation perspective, the applicant did not identify a constituency that he was authorized to represent in the EA process and associated consultations. The FRC noted that this was in contrast to the other applicants who had clearly defined constituencies.

The Participant Funding Review Committee
Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project
Aboriginal Funding Envelope – Phase II

___________________________________
Bruce Morgan, Committee Chairperson, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

___________________________________
Patrick Duxbury, Environmental Assessment Consultant

Recommended Participant Funding Allocations
Star-Orion South Diamond Mine Project – Phase II
Aboriginal Funding Envelope

Applicant Total award amount recommended
Archerwill Métis Local #58 Inc. (on behalf of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Eastern Region 2 and Saskatchewan Western Region 2) $26,100
Muskoday First Nation $25,000
James Smith Cree Nation $25,000
Clarence Natomagan $0
Cumberland House Cree Nation $15,672.50
Red Earth Cree Nation $16,227.50
Total $108,000
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