IRC won't push for mine
Park boundaries should remain in place, says Connelly

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 06/97) - The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will not pressure for changes to the boundaries of the proposed Tuktut Nogait National Park to accommodate potential mining activity.

"Parks Canada is sensitive about amending the boundaries of the park -- that's fair," said IRC chief operating officer Roger Connelly. "We've agreed to that, and have no intentions to pursue changes to the boundaries."

Darnley Bay Resources Ltd. is currently exploring a giant gravity anomaly -- the world's largest -- near and inside the proposed park boundaries. Darnley Bay president Leon LaPrairie said that if promising mineral finds are discovered within the park, then it would be up to the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation as well as the people of Paulatuk to pressure for boundary changes to the park before it is signed into law.

The Inuvialuit signed an agreement establishing the park last summer in Paulatuk with Heritage Minister Sheila Copps in attendance. "That was our stand then, and that is our stand to the present day," said Connelly.

The IRC stands to face political heat even if a potential mine is discovered outside the park. Much of the area being explored for development is within the calving ground for the Bluenose caribou. "If Darnley Bay wants to open a mine five miles from the calving ground, there's going to be trouble," he said.

"It's not yes we're for (a mine), or no we're against it, by any stretch of the imagination," said Connelly. "The ball is very much in the hands of (Darnley Bay) at this stage of the game... We'll see what they come up with, then the Inuvialuit processes would come into play, and review and consider the proposal."

"Obviously, all of this is being considered (at IRC). Once more is known, then a conclusion (on the mine) will be reached here, too."