Developing and Operating the Wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada

July 18, 2016

Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) were conducted for the "Strategic Proposal to Protect and Share the Franklin Discovery" and the "Treasury Board Submission to access funding to develop and operate the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada" (the proposals) pursuant to the 2010 "Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals" (CEA Agency/Privy Council Office 2010). SEAs provide an opportunity to identify the broad and unintended impacts of proposed management actions resulting from a proposed policy, plan or program, including the cumulative environmental effects of multiple activities. SEAs also inform the subsequent assessment of related projects and are initiated early in the planning process to ensure that environmental effects are fully considered.

The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada is the first national historic site in Nunavut to be administered by Parks Canada. The wreck of the HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014 and, in April 2015, Parks Canada added the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada (the site) and the site description to the Schedule of the National Historic Sites of Canada Order under the Canada National Parks Act. This provided legal protection for the site, enabling Parks Canada to protect the heritage value of the wreck for both present and future generations.

The proposals seek to ensure the security of the site and related artifacts, to undertake the necessary research and conservation on the HMS Erebus, and to share the story and significance of the discovery with Canadians. The proposal will be undertaken in collaboration with partners, in particular the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. Based on the outcome and management model determined under the Inuit Impacts and Benefits Agreement with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, an operations/visitor center in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut will be explored.

The proposed operations/visitor center will support the security and conservation of archaeological objects recovered from the wreck and enhance access to important features of the cultural environment though the display of recovered artifacts and interpretation of the in-situ cultural resources. In addition, it will provide a venue in the North for sharing the importance of the wreck, its associated artifacts, Northwest Passage explorers, and the contributions of the Inuit to the Franklin search expeditions. A key driver will be to support economic development opportunities in Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay. Should this facility be constructed, it will undergo the necessary reviews to identify and mitigate any potential negative environmental effects.

Additionally, over the next five years, Parks Canada will work with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay to develop a management plan for the site, to outline strategies to protect the commemorative integrity of site, and to promote public understanding and visitor experience.

The expected outcome of the proposals is the enhancement of visitor experience, protection of the cultural resources, and support of the commemorative integrity of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site of Canada. The proposals will have important positive effects on these factors; no important negative environmental effects are expected to result from the proposals.