Yukon News

Government unveils new plans for Peel

Jacqueline Ronson Wednesday October 24, 2012

Mike Thomas/Yukon News

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Resources Minister Brad Cathers discusses the proposed changes to the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan during a press conference on Tuesday.

At a glance, the Yukon government’s newly unveiled plans for the Peel watershed closely resemble what was proposed by the region’s planning commission.

But appearances can be deceiving. The four maps released by the territory on Tuesday use similar colours as the final recommended plan. But the same colour doesn’t mean the same level of protection.

The new maps will be the centrepiece of the government’s final round of Peel consultations, set to be held over the next four months. The commission’s final plan will be included too, but the Yukon government has said it does not like it.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that we think that the plan proposed by the former Peel planning commission should be modified, and that the final plan can be more fair and balanced,” said Resources Minister Brad Cathers.

The government is touting its new plans as a way of satisfying both developers and environmentalists.

To accomplish this, they have invented two new land-use designations: restricted use wilderness areas, and wilderness river corridors. 

Both designations allow some limited development, which is “managed to a higher standard of care,” explained Jim Bell, a senior land use planner with Energy, Mines and Resources.

During the public consultation, the government has come up with four proposed maps, using these new designations. Those maps can be directly compared with the planning commission’s map at http://www.peelconsultation.ca.

Including the final recommended plan as one of the scenarios under discussion in the consultation is a requirement of the Umbrella Final Agreement, said Cathers.

The government is asking Yukoners to carefully review the new concepts and maps that it has put forward for discussion. A careful review is indeed necessary, as the details reveal the major differences between the government’s ideas and those of the planning commission.

On the surface, the new maps appear to resemble the final recommended plan.

It proposed 80 per cent of the Peel watershed region be either protected as a special management area, or given interim protection subject to later review.

Submitted Photo/Yukon News

Peelmap

This map is one of four scenarios the Yukon government presented.

Each of the government’s proposed maps see 74 per cent of the area designated as either a protected area or one of the new land-use designations. 

A dark green colour on the maps represent the most protected areas. The planning commission called these special management areas. The government is calling them protected areas.

Both categories would protect the area from new land uses, but the government’s designation would not require subsequent special management plans to be developed, said Bell.

These designations cover 55 per cent of the area in the commission’s plan, and between 14 and 36 per cent in the government’s four scenarios.

A lighter green, used by the commission to designate a wilderness area, becomes a new category under the government’s scheme: restricted use wilderness area. However, these categories are quite different.

A wilderness area is protected from new claims to subsurface and surface rights and subsequent development, subject to review.

A restricted use wilderness area, meanwhile, allows for both new claims and new development, subject to stricter conditions intended to preserve the ecological and tourism values of the area.

The commission’s plan calls for 25 per cent of the area designated as a wilderness area, while the government’s scenarios ask for between 32 and 51 per cent of the area designated as a restricted use wilderness area.

The second new designation, the wilderness river corridor, is designed to provide special protections to the Peel’s many rivers and surrounding landscape, which have become so famous among environmentalists and adventurers.

While no new mineral claims can be made in these areas, they can be used for access roads, including river crossings, as long as standards are met for protection of the environment and natural beauty.

Wilderness river corridors span three to 10 kilometres in width, and represent six to nine per cent of the Peel watershed in the government’s plans.

Despite the government’s assertion that their scenarios afford special protections to 74 per cent of the area, new development and access roads will be permitted in up to 86 per cent of the region, based on the new plans.

Currently, 8,428 mineral claims cover approximately three per cent of the watershed, according to government documents.

The bulk of these were claimed while the government stalled on implementing a staking ban, even as the area’s land use was under review.

Regardless of the outcome of the planning process, these stakeholders are likely to retain rights to their claims, although they would be required to go through a permitting process to develop their claims.

First Nations were not involved with coming up with these scenarios, but will be consulted on them over the coming months, officials said.

Public consultations will continue for four months. Consultations with First Nation stakeholders will occur concurrently, and will also continue for an additional month after public comments have closed.

The public is invited to learn more and share their feedback at http://www.peelconsultation.ca until February 23, 2013.

There will also be meetings with stakeholders, as well as public open houses.

Information will also be mailed to each household, with an enclosed feedback form.

Comments provided through the website will be made public once the consultation period is over.

The government will also compile and summarize all of the feedback received through the consultation process.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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12 Comments

Yukonshadow wrote:
11:56pm Saturday October 27, 2012

And this move by the Yukon Government surprises people why? They did it this way on purpose - they know it will raise the hackles on those that like or accepted the earlier proposal - they are hoping it will go to court as it gives them a way out for whatever the final plan is - if they win in court they strut like a peacock saying we told you so; if the lose in court they can still hold their heads high amongst the Yukon Party financial supporters and shrug their shoulders that they tried but c’est la vie.

Kp Auto wrote:
2:58am Saturday October 27, 2012

Its definately Beautifull country It would be a Shame To develope it or any Oyher Existing Yukon ,, Wilderness ,, Everone knows mining ruins the Land and WAter ,  but You cant stop progress ,, We all would like to ,,,,,, Except for the ones that will get rich ,, They dont ,, Care,, If you cant find a job without ruining something ,, move back to the cities ,, Thats just A thought NOW!!!

esmith wrote:
8:57pm Thursday October 25, 2012

I thought we lived in a democratic territory.  Isn’t a government supposed to represent its people? Exactly who did the government consult when drawing up these new maps?  Not First Nations.  Not the Yukon people.  Then who?  Who is our government representing if not the Yukon people?? They’re throwing out a democratic process because they aren’t happy with what the Yukon people want.  They’re taking from the Enbridge playbook assuming the public is more ignorant than they are and will take pretty colours as an assurance of protection.  Be smarter than they think you are.  Read the recommended plan that took SIX YEARS of consultations and still came up with 80% protection. Analyze and compare the YG’s and the Peel Commission’s definitions of “protection”.  Ask the right questions. Who did you consult?  How did you identify high conservation values? What science did you use to determine the buffer zones?  How will this affect caribou habitat? Fish habitat? How will it protect the Peel’s pristine watershed? If the Yukon government is going back to the drawing board for the Peel, than Yukoners, First Nations and stakeholders should too.  The deal’s off the table. Demand 100% for the Peel.

Davey Jones wrote:
8:30pm Thursday October 25, 2012

Well maybe if we only a two party system what the Majority of Yukoners did would count…. so with the 3 way and in some places 4 way splits the Yukon Party came out ahead… if the NDP had formed Government they still would not have had the majority of Yukoners voting for them… so maybe we need to go back and look at the Party systems and since the Liberal Party is falling apart anyways, they should merge with the NDP give it a new name and then some change can happen and we would have more effective elections

BB wrote:
8:23pm Thursday October 25, 2012

The Yukon Party had it’s chance to reject, accept or modify.  They chose to stay silent. Especially through the election, even when asked numerous times, because they knew it would be a deal breaker.  Then to to compound the problem by keeping the claim staking open during the process.  The Yukon Party has a BIG problem and seem to have painted themselves into a corner.  Now they want to present these new plans throwing away all the money it cost and work that the Peel Planning Commission did.  The time for modification is over.  If they would have rejected or even opted to modify this would not be an issue.  They can not now decide to bring completely new plans to the table.  With the Recommended plan being released December of 2009 and the Final plan July 2011, the Peel Watershed Planning Commission did it’s due diligence.  Now for the Yukon Government to suck it up and face the music for lack of proper engagement and for allowing staking to continue way longer than it should have.

J wrote:
7:12pm Thursday October 25, 2012

Actually the majority of votes went for the other parties in the election. The majority of Yukoners did NOT vote YP.. Do your research. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukon_general_election,_2011

yukon wrote:
6:13pm Thursday October 25, 2012

lets go hunting

Fernando wrote:
6:11pm Thursday October 25, 2012

DS is right, more people voted YP than for the other parties so this is probably what most people want. It’s hypocritical to continue living in an area that uses more resources per capita and complain whenever anyone wants to extract some of those resources from an area most people will never see. If you love the environment so much, live somewhere where your mere existence pollutes so much in greenhouse gases, etc.
I guess you all can’t because only in the Yukon do so many get paid so much for so little (YG, FN & municipal “workers”) leaving them so much time to protest EVERYTHING.

Sam wrote:
11:59pm Wednesday October 24, 2012

“We committed to seeking a final plan for the Peel that protects the environment and respects all sectors of the economy,” he said.

“And we’ve repeatedly made it clear we think the plan proposed by the former Peel Planning Commission should be modified and that the final plan can — and should — be more fair and balanced.”

What Premier Darrell Pasloski is really saying when respecting all sectors of the economy is that the mining sector contributed heavily to the Yukon Party election campaign and their interests will be given the highest level of protection.

And when he says we would go bankrupt if we bought all the mining claims staked in the Peel watershed he is really saying the Yukon Party will go bankrupt if they no longer pander to the mining industry.

Its shamefull and what it really means is that people who want to protect the Peel Watershed should have paid for the protection by contributing to the Yukon Party. This type of thing has to stop- we need election campaign contribution reform because the status quo is shady .

DS wrote:
11:37pm Wednesday October 24, 2012

I don’t think it’s fair to say all Yukoners haven’t been listened to by the government. We have a majority government and I think most Yukoners knew that the Yukon party would take a more balanced view of the Peel yet they still got voted in. Tells me that more people are for a balanced approach than against it.

J wrote:
11:26pm Wednesday October 24, 2012

You can’t just protect certain area’s of the Peel and expect the wildlife and flora to not be effected at all! This is totally ridiculous.

Malcolm Boothoyd wrote:
10:48pm Wednesday October 24, 2012

Two things: “We want to hear from you?” Really? You weren’t listening for the last six years because I’m fairly confident Yukoners made themselves clear that we want the Peel protected. And isn’t six years of consultations with industry/ First Nations/ the public defined as “hearing from you?”

Secondly, Fox News is calling. They have copyright on “Fair and Balanced.”

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