A court action aimed at halting the Quill Lakes Water Diversion Project is being put on hold for now.
The Pasqua First Nation launched the challenge in an effort to force the Environment Department to conduct a full environmental assessment of the drainage ditch until an environmental impact assessment is done.
The chief of the First Nation, Todd Peigan, says the hearing, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been adjourned for a week in the hopes to reaching some kind of a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of all concerned.
He says the new developments came on Friday, and offer some hope for those opposed to the project.
“It will be adjourned for a week so the parties can try to find some sort of resolution, which would avert any legal proceedings now or into the future,” he said.
Peigan says the whole process could take months. In the fall, the Environment Department gave approval to the 25-kilometre drainage channel, saying it would have little environmental impact, therefore an environmental assessment was not required.
Chief Peigan says the government has provided no proof of that, and he has lingering concerns that the water from the Quill Lakes, which is very salty, could have a devastating effect on wildlife and fish throughout the Qu’Appelle Lakes water system.
“What are the impacts in the long term? Not just to the lakes in the upper Qu’Appelle, but what about the lower Qu’Appelle down in the Crooked and Round Lake areas?” he asked.
The call to drain the Quill Lakes comes from a group called the Quill Lakes Watershed Association. Its concern is the loss of farmland caused by yearly flooding of the Quill Lakes.
It’s estimated about 60,000 acres of farmland has already been lost and more land is at risk.