In March, 2019 Rob Altemeyer MLA for Wolseley grills Minister of Sustainable Development, Hon. Rochelle Squires on whether or not a Work Permit has been issued under the Crown Lands Act for clearing activities occuring in the project area for the proposed Wanipigow Silica Sand Extraction mine. The Minister then insinuates that the MLA is not aware of the environmental processes followed when applying for Work Permits. The Minister then assures the MLA that environmental concerns are being addressed through the standard process for Work Permit applications. MLA Rob Altemeyer states that clearing is ongoing despite the fact that a Work Permit for construction activities has not yet been issued (confirmed by the Regional Lands Manager out of the Lac Du Bonnet regional office).
Manitoba’a Environmental Protection Process
Typically, a Work Permit is issued for Exploratory Activities which often includes the clearing of 10m wide access roads for the purposes of geotechnical investigations and then an additional Work Permit is issued for Construction Activities which would include clearing for construction purposes. Work Permits for Construction Activities are typically only issued after the proposed Project is reviewed under the Environment Act and an Environment Act License has been issued. Currently, only a Work Permit for Exploratory Activities has been issued by the Manitoba Sustainable Development. Despite no Work Permit for Construction Activities nor a Environment Act License, clearing for the construction of a sand processing plant and an access road has commenced.
CPS is willing to Bypass Environmental Protection regulations
Further investigation has found that a Canadian Premium Sand subcontractor, an on-reserve construction company has applied for a Timber Sales Agreement for an area located within the proposed silica sand mine project area. This allows Canadian Premium Sand to continue clearing timber for construction purposes WITHOUT a Work Permit for Construction Activities, thus circumventing the standard environmental protection process that Minister Squires promised would be followed. As of today, the Minister of Sustainable Development has yet to issue a Work Permit for Construction Activities nor have they issued an Environment Act license for the Wanipigow Silica Sand project (edit: the Environment Act License was approved on May 16th, 2019). Despite the lack of environmental permits and licenses, clearing activities for the construction of an access road, a quarry and a sand processing facility have been completed.