Gull Bay and OPG Ratification Vote Coming
GULL BAY FN – Gull Bay FN Chief Wilfred King is pleased to announce that members have opted to direct GB FN Council to move forward to a ratification vote regarding the settlement of the community’s past grievances for the damages suffered by the First Nation and its people as a result of dams constructed by OPG on the Nipigon River between 1918 and 1950, and by the Ogoki River diversion completed in 1943.
“I am pleased that members have expressed their interest in moving forward in the process that will see OPG’s letter of intent developed into a final offer on which each and every member will have the opportunity not only to ratify, by way of voting to accept or refuse, but they will also have a chance to decide how the funds could be distributed”, said Chief King. “It’s no secret the GB FN is in a dire financial position. This deal represents the chance for members to choose the type of legacy that they wish to see in Gull Bay as far as potential capital projects or the provision of monetary assistance to the administration of the FN.”
OPG Agreement Has Been Under Negotiation
These projects not only flooded the community and its traditional territory seeing a loss of land mass and excessive shoreline erosion, but caused serious damage to the resources used by its members in their livelihood (hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering and recreation). Other damages that are much more difficult to quantify are those done to the burial grave sites that are obviously considered irreparable and can never be compensated for in monetary terms. OPG and Gull Bay executed a memorandum of understanding in March of 2013 with respect to the shoreline erosion mitigation work to be carried out in the community by OPG to ensure that these types of damages never occur again.
OPG, Ontario and Canada Needed to Step Up
King states, “It has always been the intention of the current Gull Bay Chief and Negotiating Team to negotiate settlements with all three branches of the parties responsible for the damages incurred by the community – those being OPG, Ontario and Canada.”
On May 31, 2013, OPG delivered its final offer in connection with the settlement of Gull Bay’s claim against OPG, by way of a letter of intent (LOI). This particular LOI describes only OPG’s portion of the total settlement of GB’s past grievances in regards to the flooding. Within the last two months, GB FN Council began the process of negotiation with the two remaining parties (Ontario and Canada), so current talks represent only one of the possible three settlements that members will receive in association with Gull Bay’s claim regarding the damages connected with the existing facilities of OPG.
Specifically excluded from the settlement are any new or proposed projects, for example, the Little Jackfish River Hydroelectric Project. King explains that GB FN has the right to partner, if members so choose, in the development of the LJR project, and that they also play a serious role in the determination as to whether that project can proceed – given the community’s location on the Lake Nipigon watershed and the potential adverse affects that must be addressed in advance of approval. He also states that any future compensation with respect to OPG’s proposed projects will be dealt with through the duty to consult obligations of the Crown and the project proponent on a “go forward” basis.
Although specific details of the letter of intent remain confidential, King says that there was a significant increase by OPG from the terms of the offer that he refused back in 2010.