Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 23, 2014

Plan seems like déjà-vu for former commission chair

The Yukon government has been criticized on all fronts for its Peel land use plan released Tuesday.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on January 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

DAVE LOEKS

The Yukon government has been criticized on all fronts for its Peel land use plan released Tuesday.

And the chair of the former Peel watershed land use planning commission is anything but surprised.

Speaking Wednesday morning, Dave Loeks said the government’s plan bares striking similarity to the commission’s initial draft plan released in April 2009.

“That was the plan in which we were trying to be all things to all people, and it had very little protected areas and emphasized instead temporary access, rolling road tops and restoring landscapes after use,” Loeks said in an interview.

“What was interesting is the industry as well as the rest of the public rejected that as an option. They hated it, and that’s why the commission moved on.”

At the time, the commission realized there were three choices:

• proceed with the development of a plan no one liked;

• take a pro-development path; or

• proceed with a more cautious approach – which is what they did.

“It’s very interesting that at this stage in the game this is something that’s being trotted out, which already was fielded and industry hated,” said Loeks.

The Star reported Wednesday that Samson Hartland, the new president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, is concerned with the amount of land the government has withdrawn from staking.

The four affected First Nations, opposition parties and the Yukon Conservation Society have condemned the government for not implementing the final recommended plan, which offered the area more protection and was developed through the planning process outlined in the land claim’s Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA).

The government, meanwhile, maintains it has followed the process outlined in the UFA.

It contends the plan released Tuesday is more balanced than the commission’s final recommended plan.

The government’s plan protects 29 per cent of the Peel from new staking, versus the final recommended plan, which would have permanently protected 55 per cent of the area.

But, as Loeks noted, “the fine print says you can have roads in all areas” in the government’s plan.

All mineral claims already staked in the Peel watershed will be respected, Environment Minister Currie Dixon said Wednesday.

That means there is potential for temporary road development even in protected areas, but Dixon noted any development in those areas would be held to a higher standard.

The four affected First Nations have implemented the final recommended plan in their settlement lands that fall within the Peel watershed and have said they plan to take legal action against the government.

Their formal announcement is expected next week at the annual Mineral Exploration Roundup event in Vancouver.

By Ainslie Cruickshank
Star Reporter

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Jan 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm

The sitting government, the (Yukon) Conservation Party, has not made any secret of their intention to sell off the Peel. 
They really don’t care what anyone says, thinks, or what the scientific reports reveal.
Is anyone really surprised now?

melba

Jan 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Zero percent protection for the Peel (roads allowed everywhere).  The Yukon Party way. While saying they are protecting 29% just to add some dishonesty for good measure in case people do not read the fine print.

Mike Hawk

Jan 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Wasn’t this guy’s five minutes of fame over a long time age?

Yukonertoo

Jan 25, 2014 at 8:16 am

So, the gov. is going to honour all existing claims in the Peel watershed. I take it that will include the claims filed immediately after the Commission was struck to conduct land use studies. Those “speculators” should have their claims vacated. Very sleazy business practices. Obviously, the speculators do not care at all about the future of this area nor the rest of our territory.

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