Government defends industrial development in parks, ditches conservation responsibility

The Manitoba government is failing in its legal mandate to protect provincial parks by allowing mining corporations to stake claim and bulldoze areas we’ve set aside for nature and wildlife.
Nopiming Provincial Park is a provincial treasure — an access point to the wild world of moose and wolves and waterways to wander. Nopiming is also home to numerous species at risk like boreal woodland caribou and olive-sided flycatcher — species that are supposed to have their habitat protected. 
Since September 2017 at least, the Manitoba government has been issuing destructive development permits to mining corporations based outside the province, as I found out on a recent expedition to the Cat Lake area.
This problem is straightforward:
  1. Nopiming is a provincial park. 
  2. Few other jurisdictions in the world allow mineral exploration in a park. Federally, Canada banned mining in national parks in 1931. 
“the purposes of a provincial park system include the following:
(a) to conserve ecosystems and maintain biodiversity;
(b) to preserve unique and representative natural, cultural and heritage resources;
(c) to provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities and experiences in a natural setting.”
Mineral exploration does not fit into any of those park purposes. It is truly Manitoba’s shame that we allow government to issue park destruction permits.
We used to have a government department that stood up for parks and nature — the Department of Conservation  — but now we have a Department of “Sustainable” Development instead, a small but significant change as the Wilderness Committee called out at the time. This branch of the government has refused to release any information about the mineral exploration permits for Nopiming Provincial Park, instead instructing us to file freedom of information requests. 
Similarly, the invite to meet with the Wilderness Committee which was extended by “Development” Minister Squires to us last fall seems to have been rescinded, as she is no longer answering calls or emails. 
In 2011, the Wilderness Committee discovered destructive mineral exploration in sensitive areas of Nopiming Provincial Park. The Conservation Minister at that time committed to instituting a new process to curb mineral exploration in parks. The current mines branch website still says that mineral exploration isn’t allowed in this region, only claim staking. 
As we discovered on the ground in Nopiming last month, that simply isn’t true.
Manitobans know that parks should be places that are protected. We don’t need to explore for minerals in parks, nor open up mines in parks. Parks need to be refuges for the wild and for us, and mines have no place in parks. 
Stay tuned next week for more information on how you can help we end industrial activity in Manitoba’s provincial parks.
MiningInNopimingPark_Map_April2018_Draft5.pdf1.88 MB
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