Canadian Natural recognized concerns and ideas of stakeholders, especially the First Nations and Métis people, during the development of the compensation lake.
2009 Steward of Excellence Recipient
Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Horizon Oil Sands contains bitumen resources that underlay the Tar and Calumet river watersheds. Avoidance of the watershed was impossible for development to proceed, so to mitigate the planned disturbance Canadian Natural chose to construct the first fisheries compensation lake in the oil sands.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s
Horizon Project compensation lake
For Canadian Natural, an important component to the development of the compensation lake was to recognize the concerns and ideas of stakeholders, especially the First Nations and Métis people. Open houses and joint meetings with government regulators and First Nations were held throughout the planning process from 2001 to 2004.
First Nations and Métis played a key role in the development of the final species assemblage for the lake. Fish species that were important food resources to Aboriginal people were of particular interest to Canadian Natural. One of the final goals was to develop a lake that could be used as a gathering place for Aboriginal people to continue to practice their traditional lifestyle. The lake itself was named by a member of the community of Fort McKay as Wapan Sakahikan, Cree for Horizon Lake.
“Canadian Natural incorporates the environment, health and safety and community in all our operations,” according to Calvin Duane, Manager, Environment. “In the area of environment, this includes managing the impacts of projects and the engagement of stakeholders to address their concerns.”
The creation of a lake ecosystem to compensate for lost fish habitat is a unique alternative to address mine operation impacts and to maintain equivalent ecological functions. Years of planning, stakeholder involvement, scientific expertise and detailed habitat construction have resulted in the compensation lake establishment exceeding performance expectations.