Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 31, 2014

Pasloski uncertain what impact court case will have on implementing Peel plan

It is not yet clear whether a legal challenge of the government’s Peel land use plan will stall its implementation.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on January 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Premier Darrell Pasloski

It is not yet clear whether a legal challenge of the government’s Peel land use plan will stall its implementation.

Premier Darrell Pasloski said Thursday it would be premature to comment on whether the impending court case would impede implementation of the plan, as the government is still developing its statement of defence.

The government was served with a statement of claim Wednesday, after Thomas Berger, a well-regarded aboriginal rights and environmental lawyer, filed it in the Supreme Court of Yukon on Monday.

Berger is representing the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society as they seek to have the government’s plan overturned and the Peel planning commission’s final recommended plan implemented in its stead.

Tom Ullyett, the deputy minister of Justice, said department lawyers are forming a legal team to work on the Peel case,

“This is a pretty significant lawsuit on a very important public issue.”

He wouldn’t confirm whether or not the government planned to hire legal counsel from Outside as well.

Like Pasloski, Ullyett was relatively tight-lipped Wednesday about the government’s defence strategy, but he did say the litigation at its essence revolves around the parties’ interpretation of the land use planning process outlined in chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

“The plaintiffs by virtue of their filing have put into question whether the government respected the process that’s set out under chapter 11,” he said.

“And that’s what we’ll be addressing in our response because we believe that the government has respected the process.”

As for implementation of the government’s plan, Ullyett said it remains to be seen whether that will be affected as the case works its way through the court system.

A hearing is likely several months down the road, he noted.

“In the meantime the lay of the land has not changed and does not appear that it is going to change until we hear from the court,” he said.

The implementation strategy is laid out in chapter six of the government’s Peel land use plan.

Brigitte Parker, a spokesperson for Energy, Mines and Resources, said late last week that the implementation committee of senior government officials had not yet formed.

Officials from affected First Nations will also be invited to join the committee, she said.

A key responsibility of the committee will be implementing the relevant land use designations in the Peel plan. For the Protected Areas, which encompass 29 per cent of the region, this includes withdrawing the areas from mineral staking and oil and gas dispositions and designating the areas as territorial parks. A new park designation, Wild River Parks, will be created under Parks and Land Certainty Act over the course of this year.

The Protected Areas will be managed under the broader land use plan until detailed park management plans are developed, which Parker said could take several years.

A key priority for implementing the Restricted Use Wilderness Areas will be developing a process for tracking cumulative effects. Parker called this a “priority item” that would be implemented this year. She noted it would be similar to the process implemented under the North Yukon plan.

For the RUWAs new regulations for off-road vehicles will be created under the Territorial Lands Act. Parker said the government anticipates this will occur in the spring.

A cumulative effects tracking system will also be implemented in the Integrated Management Areas, which account for 27 per cent of the region.

The plan dictates that at least two indicators will be monitored: the total amount of surface disturbance and linear density, or the total length of linear impacts like roads, seismic lines or access trails.

Implementation of the plan will further require the government to develop a single air access system for the Protected Areas and Restricted Use Wilderness Areas.

Parker said the government would implement a public registry online over the next year.

Commercial air traffic will be encouraged to register anticipated flight dates, times and locations in the Peel Watershed, but it cannot be enforced, as aircraft regulation is a federal jurisdiction.

The plan mandates that it be assessed within 10 years to determine if a review is needed.

Speaking Thursday, the premier reiterated his support for the plan.

“We’re proud of this plan and we’re proud of the work that has gone into it,” he said.

“What we’ve heard so far is that the environmentalists are not happy with our land use plan. But we’ve also heard so far that at the other end of the spectrum the mining industry is not happy with our plan either. I think what that speaks to is what we were trying to achieve and that is a balance. A balance that will protect the environment and also have the opportunity to protect all sectors of the economy,” he continued.

CommentsAdd a comment


Jan 31, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Being an open minded sort, I thought to myself that I must be missing something, after all, our premier said that we are being mislead, and that we should read the new plan for ourselves.  So I downloaded the 180 or so pages and read it.
Well, lots of filler, but no surprise there.
The big issue is the Protected Areas(PA) and the new designation of RUWA, restricted use wilderness area.
The PAs amount to narrow corridors along the big 3 rivers: Snake, Bonnet Plume and Wind.  And I mean narrow as in shoot across them.  The report is big on speaking to the protection of the wilderness aspect of the area, but how in gods name do narrow corridors along the rivers accomplish this?  RUWA sounds good, but in fact, there is no protection at all in RUWA areas beyond what we have now for any Yukon land.
I encourage everyone to read the plan.  Make up your own mind.  It’s all there in black and white.

Carmen Northen

Jan 31, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Hard rock mining has a destructive history of ruined lands and tainted waters.  The companies have a bad habit of making a mess, then declaring bankruptcy.  These lands will never be the same again.  I sincerely hope and pray that this huge mistake can be prevented and the powers that be will protect the 80% in the original plan for the people of the Yukon.  For the sake of future generations
to cherish.

Rick O'Shea

Feb 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

“Pasloski uncertain what impact court case will have”

Really Darrell? Has 15 years of selling toothpaste and adult diapers taught you nothing?  I’ll give you an idea of what is bound to play out.

First, YG will be entangled in a mulit year, multi million dollar lawsuit that they don’t stand a chance of winning.  Brad Cathers already admitted on the floor of the legislature that the lawyers they employ aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. Although he later apologized and sent a dozen donuts over to the Legal Services branch. I’m sure the lawyers are ready to battle now.  They may get jelly filled donuts this time around, rumour has it. 

Second, uncertainty for investment will actually skyrocket. No mining or oil and gas company will as much as stick a shovel in the ground with this court case playing out.

Third,  the YP alienated a lot of the electorate with their Jeckle and Hyde stance on the Peel before the election and now.  Their only saving grace is that the political center and left continue to split the vote.

Fourth,  bullying the peer First Nation governments is a school yard tactic Fentie picked up in the joint but is just crass.  It is inconceivable that this is tolerated by anyone.

Fifth,  you are selling the soul of the Yukon forever for what?  A few hundred million dollars and the legacy of the destruction of a pristine wilderness.

bobby bitman

Feb 1, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Rick O’Shea, just to clarify what the Yukon Party sells the soul of the Yukon for, let’s look to the placer industry as an example of the benefits that flow from the destruction of riparian zones.

According to the National Geographic, between March 2012, and March 2013, placer miners reported $70 million dollars worth of the gold they removed from the Yukon’s waters.  They left a $20,000 tip on the bedside table in ‘royalties’.

Can’t beat that hard bargaining that the Yukon government does against the mining industry!



Feb 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

While I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing royalties increased under the quartz mining act, I think it would do our economy a huge disservice to increase royalties on placer miners.

While some of our placer mines are large, money making operations, a lot of them are small mom & pop businesses that don’t always make money or break even every year. Yet they fuel our economy with everything they do from hiring employees, chartering planes, renting & purchasing equipment, keeping expediting businesses running, doing a lot of business in local grocery stores, supply stores, etc. Raising royalties for the placer industry would shut down a lot of these operations and it would trickle down negatively into every aspect of our economy.

Oh Please

Feb 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Oh please Mr. Paz,
The mining industry is not happy with your plan?? I know for a fact they are doing summersaults over “the YP Plan”.
Just because the YP flunky S. Hartland says the mining industry is unhappy is a bunch of BS.
The YFNs and Yukon public don’t like the YP plan and the industry probably thinks the YP is full of a bunch of idiots for trying to sell their plan as something other then a slap in the face to all Yukoners!


Feb 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Just wait.

We will soon hear Yukon government employees are advised they cannot comment to the media on the new plan.
Spokespersons close to the Yukon Party will handle all media interviews and relationships with FNs will fall apart. Yukon lawyers are being forced to defend court challenges that go against the constitution and the government’s fiduciary responsibility.

The Yukon Party will try and spin their contempt for FNs and Yukoners and pristine wilderness in mumble jumble about a balanced plan. Their mining friends in Vancouver and the US and China are being rewarded for contributing to the Yukon Party’s war chest. Its still legal to do this, of course,  but its unethical- kinda the dark ugly side of Canadian politics. Our premier will run off to speak to mining symposiums but he has personally closed the door on our aboriginal people. That is the way I see it.

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