The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its twenty-first session, expressed its serious concerns with regard to potential threats to the integrity of this site due to the proposed Cheviot Mine Project, designed to exploit a large, open-pit coal mine, located 2.8 km from the Jasper National Park portion of this World Heritage area. A range of conservation organisations and Parks Canada had expressed concern regarding the negative impacts which the proposed mining project would have on the integrity of the World Heritage site. Nevertheless, the Federal Government of Canada and the Provincial Government of Alberta had subsequently approved the project and published a full EIA in favour of the project. The conservation groups subsequently challenged the Federal-Provincial Environmental Assessment Panel’s report. The judge dismissed the case based upon the fact that the Panel report is not subject to judicial review.
The Centre received a report entitled “Government of Canada Response to a request from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for Information on the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage site” and a letter from the Assistant Deputy Minister of Parks Canada. The report provided details of the Cheviot mining project, which at its closest, would be 2,8km from the boundary of Jasper National Park. The mine will involve the development of an area of 3007 ha with open pits, infrastructure and roads. The report also highlights the review and approval process and indicates key elements of the Government of Canada’s response to mitigate environmental impacts, including the objective to maintain ecological integrity of Jasper National Park, and an agreement for integrated grizzly bear management.
The Bureau thanked the Canadian Government for having provided a detailed report concerning the impacts that the proposed mining project would have on the integrity of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks and mechanisms put in place to ensure that strict mitigation measures will be applied. The Bureau invited the Canadian authorities to ensure that all possible environmental impacts on the World Heritage site are mitigated. The Bureau requested the Canadian authorities to provide a status report on the proposed mining project, including any proposed start-up date for the project, to the Centre, before 15 September 1998, for review by the Committee at its twenty-second session.