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Industry will be kept under control

Chief says deals won't ignore community needs

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (Aug 24/01) - Even though the Acho Dene Koe continue to cultivate deals with industry, the community's oil and gas study will still be closely taken into account, promises Chief Judy Kotchea.

The review, which is designed to gauge the overall impacts oil and gas work, was not intended to halt exploration or drilling, she said. At the same time, agreements with industry do not bind the community or its leadership beyond an acceptable level, she noted.

"The MOUs that we sign always recognize that this is our land," she said. "And it also recognizes that there's room for compromise. Certainly if there's a problem that arises, the whole community decides there has to be a solution somewhere." Interviews for the oil and gas study began with community members during the spring. The first draft, originally expected to be released by summer, won't likely be available until October because the interview process has been so extensive, Kotchea said.

A community meeting is to be held to discuss the completed document. Recommendations from the review will then be implemented to help curb any adverse impacts, she noted.

"An assessment of this size, you can't just shelve it," she said.

Kotchea added that the review may prove useful as a model for other communities in the future.

"Development is not going to stop here at this parallel. It's going to keep moving north," she said.