Waswanipi residents say they aren’t getting the answers they are asking for on the proposed military firing range near Chapais.
Both Waswanipi and Chapais were home to hearings of the review committee on the proposed SNC Technologies heavy artillery range on November 2 and 3.
Many people showed up to voice their opinions on the controversial project. Cree hunters and trappers who are to be affected by the range attended to make sure their voices were heard.
“They didn’t answer all of our questions, we found out that the next day in Chapais different information was given to the people there,” said Paul Dixon, fur officer with the local Waswanipi Cree Trappers Association.
He said opposition to the proposal is high in Waswanipi. “Everyone was opposed to the project and wanted their voices heard,” he said. “We started the meeting at I pm and finished around 8 that night.”
Dixon went on to say that one of the consultants, Bruce Smith, only told him half the story. “He never showed us the full impact this would have. He didn’t tell us initially that instead of the artillery flying the maximum range of 17 kilometres, it turned out that some might fly almost as far as Presqu’île Lake, over 30 kilometres away.”
In Chapais, Mayor Berube spoke in favour of it, saying that the community had suffered from the closing a few years back of the mine that acted as the main source of employment. He said that the community could not afford to pass up an opportunity to support such an economically positive proposal.
Other advocates talked about similar positives such as the possible attraction of the site to tourists.
But some non-natives expressed concerns for ground water pollution, noise pollution and the negative impacts on the Cree and Chapaisien ways of using the land.
SNC Technologies said that after 30 years of usage of the land, they would effectively clean it up and it would be restored back to its original condition.