Haida to vote on Naikun project

  • Nov. 25, 2009 6:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–A general vote among Haida citizens about the NaiKun wind energy project will be held, but not until after the Council of the Haida Nation election on December 5. CHN vice-president Arnie Bellis said a vote was called for at the Haida House of Assembly in October. A lot of questions were raised from the floor at the meeting, especially around the business relationship between the CHN and NaiKun Wind Energy. Mr. Bellis said the exact nature of the question for the vote has not been formulated yet. He also said this will be a general vote, not a referendum, which is a different process according to the Haida Constitution. In August 2009, the CHN, through its corporate body, the Haida Enterprise Corporation (HaiCo), negotiated the option to buy up to 40 percent of the wind farm project. This could cost the Haida Nation up to $800 million, of which $200-300 million might be raised through a federal government economic development program. The remaining money would be borrowed or raised through other means. The investment is expected to generate $20 million a year in profit for the Haida people. According to a report in the most recent Haida Laas, individual Haidas and the CHN would never be exposed to any risk, as the risk would fall on HaiCo. Meanwhile, Mr. Bellis says that contrary to rumours neither he, nor Guujaaw, nor any member of the CHN executive or board owns personal shares in NaiKun. He says this has come up at every forum he’s been at over the last several months. “The Nation has shares,” he said, referring to stocks held by the CHN. The Haida Nation is also a partner with NaiKun Wind Energy in a subsidiary that will operate and maintain the project after construction. In February 2009 CHN president Guujaaw told the Observer that this partnership did not mean the NaiKun wind project is a done deal. In other NaiKun related news, the Haida environmental assessment process of the project continues. The Haida hired Rescan Environmental Services Ltd. to undertake an independent review of NaiKun’s environmental assessment application and the report presented at the House of Assembly concluded that the project promises “. a healthy net balance of positive results for people and the environment. With effective long term monitoring and mitigation measures in place combined with active oversight by the Haida people, this project will stand out as a model.” As Guujaaw points out in a letter dated Nov. 10, 2009, signed by him and found on the EAO web page, the nation is now in the final stages of the environmental assessment process, which must include the Nation’s requirements regarding mitigation and monitoring.