Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 23, 2014

First Nation won’t be ‘steamrolled’ into campground

The Yukon government could be facing two different legal battles with First Nations this year.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on January 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm

The Yukon government could be facing two different legal battles with First Nations this year.

Just hours after Na-cho Nyak Dun Chief Ed Champion said a court battle with the government over the Peel plan is a “given,” John Ward, a spokesperson for the Atlin-based Taku River Tlingit, told the Star the First Nation will not be “steamrolled,” and is seeking legal advice.

Ward was referring to the government’s decision to move forward with the development of the Atlin Lake campground, as announced Wednesday afternoon, despite the First Nation’s concerns.
“I guess the immediate reaction is it’s a little bit frustrating, but knowing how (the) Yukon government works, it could be expected,” Ward said.

The Taku River Tlingit don’t want any development to occur in the area until they’ve settled their land claim, Ward explained.

In the 1980s, the First Nation put a claim on the area where the new campground will lie that was supported by the Council of Yukon First Nations and accepted by the federal government, he noted.
“We’ve let the government know about those but they’ve still decided to ignore that and just ride roughshod over those concerns,” Ward said.

“We just don’t think that the government is being fair in not acknowledging our constitutional rights. I just don’t think it’s good to be rode roughshod over.”

Both the Taku River Tlingit and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) participated in the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board’s (YESAB’s) process and in government-to-government consultations with the Yukon government regarding the Atlin Lake campground, Environment Minister Currie Dixon noted Wednesday.

From the government’s perspective, the Taku River Tlingits’ opposition to any development in the area until a land claim is settled is “untenable.”

“We’ve indicated to them we’re very willing to come to the table and negotiate a land claim once they’ve made the appropriate advancements in the area of their primary claim which is in British Columbia and once they have mandates from Canada and British Columbia to negotiate a land claim,” Dixon said.

The government has also offered to enter into a consultation protocol in the meantime, he noted. He added the government feels it has adequately addressed other environmental concerns raised by YESAB and the First Nations.

The government accepted all of YESAB’s recommendations in its assessment of the project, making adjustments to one regarding the construction of a boat launch and the impact on fish habitat, and included additional conditions to address concerns raised by the C/TFN regarding raptor habitat.

“Beyond what YESAB recommended we do, we’re doing additional studies to look at bird nesting in the area….if we find any nests in the area, we’ll of course have to address those by building around them or avoiding disturbing them,” Dixon noted.

The government will also avoid clearing land in the winter when caribou and moose are known to be in the area.

As well, it will develop a human-wildlife conflict response plan, and engage with the C/TFN and Taku River Tlingit First Nation on any further heritage assessment work to ensure that any identified resources of value are appropriate managed.

As he wrote in a commentary in last Friday’s Star, Dixon said it’s a wonderful time to build a new campground in the territory, as campgrounds within a two-hour radius of Whitehorse are “very well used.
“Yukoners have told us that it’s very challenging to find a spot at almost any campground in that area during the weekends, or most weekends during the summer, so I think now is an excellent time to build a new campground,” he said.

“Atlin is a big, beautiful lake with excellent fishing, beautiful viewscapes and is strategically located because it’s going to take some pressure off Sanfu and Tarfu, which are, quite frankly, over-used and usually over-fished.

“I think this is a great place to build a campground, and I think we are certainly in need of a new campground in the territory.”

A spokesperson for C/TFN said it’s not in a position to comment at this time on the decision as it hasn’t had an opportunity to examine the government’s decision document, which can be viewed publicly at http://www.yesab.ca/registry.

The campground will be open to the public in 2015.

Construction work on sites, cook shelters, outhouses, walking trails and a playground will begin shortly.

Plans for the boat launch are on hold until a plan is in place for conserving fish populations in the lake, the government said in a statement released Wednesday.

By Ainslie Cruickshank
Star Reporter

CommentsAdd a comment

YukonNDN

Jan 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

How can you sell something that isn’t yours?
This land belongs to no man.  #FNStrong

Yukoner

Jan 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

If the land is so important to them they should have done land claims years ago. So if there are no land claims in place why do they still get money from the government? Are they just waiting to see if they are going to be some royalties out there for them to get in the future?

Yukon Camper

Jan 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Why can’t the government spend some money on campgrounds that are closer to Whitehorse??  Tarfu, Snafu and Squanga lake could use some work - make them bigger and more accessible to all who love to camp!!

Frank

Jan 26, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I support John Ward and the Taku River Tlingits on this one.

Its important to consult, accommodate and deal honourably with First Nations. Why steal their land Currie, that has happened so many times over the years with aboriginal people. Also, why allow the Peel to be stolen by an industry that puts money into your party’s campaign coffers- that should be illegal, it’s certainly very unethical- that’s the dirty capitalist (and colonial) culture Robert Kennedy Jr. told us about.

The Yukon Party does not really care.
I will never camp again at Snafu on a weekend- drunks screaming all night in the overflow camping which is not controlled. People driving up to and ripping up a beautiful alpine like area overlooking the lake. Is that what will become of the new campgound? Take it despite protests from the TRT and then let it be spoiled by crude people. This will be a waste of a special area the TRT have included in their claim. Come to think of it, this is exactly what Curries plans to do for the Peel as well.

Charles

Jan 26, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Just a small question. Did anyone complain about the chip sealed access to the Atlin Lake area or can we roll it up?

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