Whitehorse Daily Star

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A MILESTONE EVENT – The smiles were broad at last Thursday’s signing ceremony for the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan at Galena Park on the traditional territory of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo. From left to right: Deputy Grand Chief Jordan Peterson of the Gwich’in Tribal Council; Chief Simon Mervyn of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun; Premier Sandy Silver; Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in; and Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm. Inset Chris Rider Photo by GOVERNMENT OF YUKON/ALISTAIR MAITLAND PHOTOGRAPHY

Groups hail ‘historic’ Peel land use plan

Last Thursday’s signing of the Peel land use plan was historic,

By Chuck Tobin on August 26, 2019

Last Thursday’s signing of the Peel land use plan was historic, say the two environmental groups that were heavily involved in lobbying for maximum wilderness protection through the region.

The Yukon Conservation Society (YCS) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon issued a press release congratulating the Yukon government and the four First Nations for signing off on the final land use plan.

“This historic day is the culmination of a 30-year campaign highlighting the cultural and ecological value of the Peel Watershed by CPAWS Yukon and YCS,” said the release.

“For nearly three decades, CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society have worked hard to help people around the world fall in love with the Peel,” said Chris Rider, the executive director of CPAWS Yukon.

“Our goal has always been to support the First Nations in their efforts to protect this iconic landscape. Today we achieved that goal.”

The land use plan provides wilderness protection over 55,858 square kilometres or 83 per cent of the 67,431-square-kilometre planning region.

The remaining 11,573 square kilometres, located primarily along the Dempster Highway, allow for development.

“Whole ecosystem conservation opportunities are few and far between,” Mike Walton, the YCS’s executive director, said in the release.

“The campaign to protect the Peel represents an incredible chance to safeguard our land. Over 55,000 km2 of new protected area announced today is a boon for conservation efforts and is an example of conservation done right.”

The signing ceremony was held in Mayo last Thursday. Each of the four First Nation leaders and Premier Sandy Silver took turns speaking of what they described as a significant accomplishment for the environment and future generations.

The planning process for the Peel watershed region began in 2004. It wrapped up earlier this year following a December 2017 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The high court upheld the findings that the former Yukon Party government had failed to act honourably during the negotiations of the land use plan. It instructed the government to accept the plan recommended by the planning commission in 2011, and to conduct a final round of consultation before finalizing it.

As the Star reported Friday, executive director Samson Hartland of the Yukon Chamber of Mines has suggested it’s quite likely exploration and mining companies will be seeking financial compensation because the plan essentially expropriates their existing mineral claims in the Peel region.

The industry is looking for the government to speak to the matter of compensation, he said.

The premier, however, said in a press conference following the signing ceremony the Yukon government is not contemplating compensation.

The Peel land use process ignited a long and passionate debate over the future of the Peel.

The joint press release issued by the environmental groups indicates more than 3,000 responses were received during the final round of public consultation late last year.

Ninety-six per cent of those who filed submissions called for maximum wilderness protection, says the release.

“The significance of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan will continue beyond just the planning area,” says the release.

“The focus on conserving spaces with ecological and cultural values and having joint decision-making between First Nations and (the) Yukon government sets an important benchmark for future land use plans in the Yukon.”

Comments (11)

Up 9 Down 4

Josey Wales on Aug 30, 2019 at 12:00 am

Hey Groucho...love it, great use of sarcasm and cynicism.
I say your prophecy will evolve into a date too.
I give it less than 6 years, if team Red pulls a dozen rabbits outta our hat in the next election cycle?
...less than two years, and I suggest it will be a cultural elitist concession domestic or foreign matters not.

Up 16 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Aug 28, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Time will tell if the "no develpment" values that created this protected area will endure. Perhaps a lottery for picking the date and type of the first consession in the Peel area could be created with proceeds going to local charity?

Up 32 Down 17

Josey Wales on Aug 28, 2019 at 9:20 am

The Canadian Progressives Against White Society pulled it off.
Huge land lockup, more regulation, more division, more financial dependence on our overlords in Ottawa.
Seriously just put park gates at the borders, hire all the cultural elites officially as park staffers, purge all that have no office, the wrong DNA or chair to warm.
Then important, more valued voters can live in socially constructed utopia
peacefully free of all those pesky alleged invaders that finance the whole charade.

Next step? Next swath of land to lock up? Who else will get stepped on in this quest to pander as team Red moves the pawns around the board?
The Truman show was fiction, about everything being not quite as seen.
So many folks up here are actually living that fantasy, as much they view in their world is pure fantasy that over time....becomes believable to those with malleable minds.
Gee am I ever fortunate, I reside in a Disney theme park.

That inset photo and attached info is very revealing, represents himself whilst getting paid by a NGO, speaking on behalf of Mother Earth. I kinda expect that in this NGO gold-rush, that is our economy and from..
Canadian Progressives Against White Society.

Up 25 Down 15

Wilf on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:09 pm

This is not land a use plan. I have worked on a lot of land use plans and this does not have all inclusive elements in it. I tried a year ago to get people open their thinking but got nowhere. This is a cultural plan when one group is party to the agreement. When land claims was signed this was not the intent of land use planning process at all. Some elders help to set the guidelines that included all to have use of the lands for different purposes was the intent.

Up 15 Down 26

Ed Norton on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Although I don't agree with your conspiracy theory on big US dollars dictating what happens in the Territory, even if that was the case, that was not what drove the process in the Peel. One needs to do their homework before or it does not reflect on them well.

Up 12 Down 19

Wes on Aug 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

FacePalm, and you dragged your 20% number up from where exactly???

Up 33 Down 15

Follow The Money on Aug 27, 2019 at 3:06 am

It’s big American financial backing from the environmentalist organizations south of the border that keeps organizations like CPAWS afloat and helping to disrupt what goes on up here. Dig into it a little more deeply and the evidence suggests that it’s an indirect way for the US to covertly keep Canadian industry and resource extraction in check. People don’t seem to mind having their strings pulled indirectly from south of the border however.

Up 18 Down 18

Seth Wright on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:38 pm

At da FacePalm - There are 14 First Nations in the Yukon. The article informed that only 4 First Nation leaders were at the signing ceremony in Mayo. If the 14 First Nations represent 20 percent of the population then 4 would represent what? But even this would distort the actual numbers as aboriginal peoples do not represent a homogenous grouping. A chief, a leader, an MLA or an MP only represent the interests of a fraction of those who voted for him or her at the time of the election.

It is a necessity that the electorate accept the illusion that these individuals represent the will of the people. It is an absolute distortion that “we” legitimize every election cycle.

However, the numbers are irrelevant. When making decisions some First Nation members consider 7 generations forward and 7 generations back. We cannot make decisions for ourselves as if they only impact the here and now. We should all strive to be as thoughtful in our decision making.

Up 18 Down 32

What??? on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

Dear Faceplant, what are you talking about?? The Liberals are not letting anyone dictate what is happening in the territory. The Agreements that guided this process were agreed to by the Parties a long time ago. What came out of the process was this plan, how is that dictating, the Parties all had representation on the Committee that recommended the Plan to the Parties. Now we can agree that your Yukon Party tried to mess that up, we all know how that went. If you are going to comment, either know what u r talking about or do some research cause you are not doing Yukon Party any favours.

Up 34 Down 10

Joe on Aug 26, 2019 at 7:21 pm

So no one is allowed to hunt there? No indigenous, no outfitters ? That seems fair enough, otherwise the taxpayers got burned.

Up 55 Down 24

FacePalm on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:09 pm

If CPAWS and YCS are praising this it's bad for all Yukoners. This is a bad deal. Protect the water ways yes of course but there is so much more land there least of which is the largest iron ore deposit in the world. The liberals are letting 20 percent of the population dictate what happens in the Yukon. No one will benefit from this.

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