On this page, we link to documents we’ve obtained through Access to Information requests that show evidence of irregularities in the Village administration’s lack of accountability (that we describe here). Take our guided tour below, or explore documents by category as listed in the sidebar.
So far we’ve discovered a few of the more important documents, but the Village administration has been actively thwarting our efforts to uncover basic information. We’ve listed these censorship efforts here.
Guided tour through Pinehouse documents
Pinehouse Business North
By far the hardest sector to explore when we try to understand how the Pinehouse leadership operates is the Village’s economic development corporation Pinehouse Business North (PBN). PBN is 100% owned and controlled by the Village. As such it is described as a “reporting entity” in the Village’s audited annual financial statement.
The Mayor and several members of the current Village council serve, or have served on PBN’s board of directors, supposed to be representing the interests of ordinary Village residents, earning generous stipends from the corporation but providing no accountability or transparency as to how PBN is managed.
Why then, has there been only one PBN financial statement released to the public in the last seven years?
How could PBN, having earned millions of dollars in contract revenue, not have created financial statements for three years, 2009-2011? Neither Village council nor the PBN board apparently authorized this!
Why did the Village and PBN Development Inc. create another arm’s-length corporation PBN Partnership Limited in 2012 to take over business operations? Whose interests does this serve?
Audited financial statements are always hard to decipher, but for Pinehouse the important categories to focus on are: (1) Statement 2 – Revenue & Expenses; (2) Statement 4, Note 6 – Long-term investments re Pinehouse Business North ; and (3) Schedule 10 – Council Remuneration.
Pinehouse Mayor Mike Natomagan has always received more than generous remuneration for his responsibilities. But we can’t help but raise our eyebrows when we look at the 2013 financial statements. Mayor Mike received $87,100 and Councillor Greg Ross, $71,100 PLUS expenses. In Prince Albert, a city of 43,000 people, the mayor received $84,470 in 2013, and councillors about $31,000.
Greg Ross has received remuneration far beyond the average Village Councillor since 2011 for “Government Relations” responsibilities. (We are still trying to determine what those responsibilities entail exactly.) But we did get copies of Mr. Ross’s time and expense vouchers for two years, 2011 and 2012. Besides his regular generous salary, he also claimed $200-$300 per day for meetings he attended. Is this a form of double-dipping at the expense of Pinehouse taxpayers?
On November 13, 2012 , a seemingly innocuous document was distributed without fanfare at a Pinehouse community meeting. This “Summary of the Collaboration Agreement Term Sheet made among Cameco Corporation, Areva Resources Canada Inc., and Pinehouse” (often referred to simply as the “Term Sheet”) had been secretly negotiated over the past year, beginning with a Letter of Understanding signed on August 23, 2011. This disclosure was not so much intended as a matter for community discussion as it was to present a fait accompli. But a few attendees with a critical eye quickly recognized problems with the Term Sheet.
Among the objectionable provisions in the Term Sheet was what amounted to a gag order on Pinehouse residents regarding the social and environmental impact of expansion of the uranium mines north of the community near Key Lake. Despite a public outcry, the collaboration agreement itself was hurriedly signed on December 12, 2012, incorporating a few modifications to soften the more offensive terms in the Term Sheet, but the original text was largely left intact.
Since its endorsement, roughly $3 million dollars has been paid by industry to the community, which has been distributed by the locally controlled Pinehouse Community Trust Advisory Panel. It is hard to imagine anyone in Pinehouse not having been impacted in some way by the largesse. But for many, the questions raised back in 2012 about the impropriety and the long-term implications of the collaboration agreement seem to have been forgotten.
Pinehouse and Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)
NWMO, a consortium of nuclear development and uranium mining companies, has put pressure on several northern communities to host a nuclear waste disposal site for depleted uranium from nuclear reactors in eastern Canada. Secret discussions between NWMO and Pinehouse Village Council/Kineepik Metis Local Inc. began in 2010, and the more open “Learn More” community engagement process began in 2011. However, community resistance did force the withdrawal of NWMO from Pinehouse late in 2014. These documents, obtained from NWMO via the Village of Pinehouse as a result of a Freedom of Information request early in 2014, show how the nuclear waste agenda was advanced there from 2011 to 2013.