Yukon News

Proposed access road near Keno draws ire

Maura Forrest Wednesday February 15, 2017

Ian Stewart/Yukon News


Nacho Nyak Dun elder Jimmy Johnny worries a proposed all-season access road northeast of Keno City could increase hunting pressure in the region.

A proposal for an all-season access road to a mineral deposit northeast of Keno City is attracting criticism from outfitters and others who use the area for traditional purposes.

ATAC Resources Ltd. wants to build 65 kilometres of road off the existing Hanson Lakes road to access the Tiger Gold deposit, part of its Rackla Gold project located 55 kilometres northeast of Keno.

The road would require eight or nine bridges for large stream crossings, and nearly 40 culverts for smaller crossings. Construction would cost about $11 million.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board is currently reviewing ATAC’s proposal.

Chris McKinnon, who runs Bonnet Plume Outfitters, said he’s disgusted by the proposal. About 16 kilometres of the access road would run through his outfitting concession.

“I just can’t believe we’d even possibly entertain the idea of putting in an all-season road for exploration purposes,” he said. “That’s just insane. Ludicrous.”

McKinnon said the mining company hasn’t done proper research to determine what impacts the road would have on wildlife in the area. He also said the road will end close to the Peel watershed, and he worries that it could bring further industrial development into an area of pristine wilderness.

He said ATAC should have to rely on flying in or using winter roads. “You know what? You staked your claims going in there knowing it was remote,” he said. “You knew what you were getting into.”

First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun elder Jimmy Johnny said the road could increase hunting pressure in the region.

“I want to keep it the way it is because of the future generations to come behind us,” he said.

Johnny said there are traditional trails and grave sites in the area, and he worries they could be disturbed.

“I’m 71 years old now and I still try to go out as much as possible, as long as I’m able to. And I want to show the young people the country that I knew.”

Chris Widrig, who runs Widrig Outfitters, said the road is “a dagger pointed directly at the heart of the Peel.”

“Really what this is is a way for the mining company to try to save some money,” he said.

But ATAC CEO Graham Downs said the company might not be able to develop the project any further if it can’t build the road. ATAC has been flying into the site until now, but Downs said sonic drills and other heavy equipment are now needed to advance the project.

“You can’t fly in sonic drills,” he said.

The company could use a winter road to drive in heavy equipment. But Downs said some of the rivers haven’t frozen over in recent years.

“You can’t really run a business or anything when you don’t know if you can actually get there,” he said.

Downs said ATAC has spent about $90 million on the project to date, of which $25 million was used to pay for flying fuel, drills, people and other equipment to the site.

If a mine were ever developed on the Rackla site, he said, the same route would be used for the access road.

The company has proposed two routes for the road, one of which would pass through Nacho Nyak Dun Category A settlement land. Downs said that route would allow the First Nation to control who comes and goes on the road.

“We’re still working through that,” he said. “That’ll be their decision if they’d like us to do that.”

Regardless of the route, Downs said, the company wants to keep the road private, and there would be a no-hunting policy in the area. He said placer miners and other commercial operations looking to use the road would have to be evaluated.

But McKinnon said there would be no way to keep the road private, especially after the mining company packs up and leaves.

“Bullshit. It doesn’t work,” he said. “What happens when this company’s defunct? Gone? It’s still a road.”

The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun could not be reached by deadline and does not appear to have submitted comments to YESAB at this time.

The assessment board will be accepting public comments until Feb. 27.

Contact Maura Forrest at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


concerned citizen wrote:
6:42pm Friday February 24, 2017

Mr. McKinnon who charges tens of thousands of dollars per animal killed, to people who want to come to the Yukon to blow away animals for nothing more than giggles and to climb the childish pyramid of glory for killing (the Safari Club - look it up), would have done better to keep his mouth shut.  He’s outraged is he?  Well guess what Chris?  I’m outraged that we still sell blood sport in the Yukon!

I have to put that man’s statements aside in my mind or I’d be 100% behind this mining road just to spite the trophy hunting industry.

But I am against this road unless they can somehow make sure it doesn’t turn into another opportunity for a road side shooting gallery like we see on the Dempster each year.

Janet wrote:
4:26pm Friday February 24, 2017

Jimmy John gives two lines of comments. Enough to show he is simply a NIMBY.

objection wrote:
10:17pm Tuesday February 21, 2017

ATAC mention it has a mine life of five years. why bother with the access road. real yukoners know that when a access road is built it will never be closed to the public so dont fool yourself. look at areas like dempster highway, the history shows it was ment to have access to a certain site now a highway.

Yukon boy wrote:
1:34pm Tuesday February 21, 2017

I get so tired of extremists (on both sides) on this type of issue. It is always all or nothing, when the vast majority of Yukoners are probably somewhere in the middle.
The pro development crowd is particularly annoying with their, if you drive a car, or use a computer or whatever that is mineral related and you oppose this, then you are a hypocrite and you “should shut it”. I fully support that we need mineral development, it is how we do it that is most important. If we have mineral development that is going to harm future generations, it will not happen here, end of story.

apolitical wrote:
9:37pm Monday February 20, 2017

Concerned Yukoner: exactly!

canon2000 wrote:
10:31am Monday February 20, 2017

be another north canal road

Yvonne Lattie wrote:
3:09pm Saturday February 18, 2017

Think about it!! Once a road goes through pristine country the entire face will have changed, never for the better but for profit and destruction of all that, which First Nations hold close to their hearts. I am from BC and have went to the Yukon many times and have been taken to many beautiful and very spiritual and sacred areas by the amazing people of Mayo. Their kindness and friendship is priceless. Stop and listen to the amazing stories they offer out of the kindness of their hearts, close your eyes and wander the lands with those amazing Elders and feel the love they have for that which is near and dear to them, their lands. Once it is all roaded and the resources are gone, What is left for future generations?  Who spoke for the wildlife, who spoke for the ancestors and those sacred sites? It takes energy and determination to walk a mile, two or more. We all need to put in the effort to see things in their natural state. Motor homes take away from the real life experience of feeling the earth beneath your head and the pure peace of connecting. I am Fist Nations, born of the land and will return to the land. Walking over a mountain range and watching the goats graze on the hillside below is beyond description.
God said in his Holy Book, “Man shall destroy himself.” Let us not make this become a reality!!!

john henry wrote:
9:32am Saturday February 18, 2017


Andrew wrote:
8:45pm Friday February 17, 2017

Mining is a large part of the Yukon when it comes to Identity as well as industry. Between Faro and Mt Nansen the clean up costs are to a point where the overall mine production and economic benefit don’t even come close to what it will cost to clean up what has been left behind. I would also argue that reclamation or clean up costs can not be properly projected in an area as remote as this one.
Atac Resources is by no means a Gold Corp or Chevron when there stock trades at .48 cents.  Some people may remember a mine in the Mayo area during the 80’s that use to fly out ore by helicopter from the mine to an airstrip where it was loaded onto a plane and then flown back to Mayo. These endeavors in remote areas are not without tremendous costs for these required commodities.
What is a road going to solve in this complicated equation of commodity price, development, extraction, processing and finally industrial use. I am not against mining in the least but I am against poor planning and a road would be the last step in this process once a long term plan is proven to be in place
If a road was the final step to a long term project that will benefit the Yukon then lets do it, but at this time I would have to side with Jimmy Johnny and the outfitter that this is only the first step towards a bigger problem for the area.
Finally, I will say that it is absolutely ridiculous to say that Yukoners are at a loss without a road to access this area. The majority of the comments have nothing to do with jobs or economic benefits and instead show how dependent people now are on quads, trucks and campers to enjoy what is available to us. 

pj wrote:
6:17pm Friday February 17, 2017

Why not post your comments to the YESAB website? Pro or against.

Jonathan Colby wrote:
2:34pm Friday February 17, 2017

Doppleganger, git!

I stand with Jimmy Johnny

Yukongirl wrote:
8:25pm Thursday February 16, 2017

Chris mackinnon is a hypocrite. He just doesn’t want any more access to “his ” pristine area. This will be a company road. Not for public access. And ATAC is doing their due diligence. I am so tired of people being anti development. Stop driving your car. Stop using your computer. Stop using your cell phone. All the materials for these things are MINED. And people are working. Unless you have a better solution shut it.

Nile wrote:
4:28pm Thursday February 16, 2017

B&R almost all roads in Yukon started as resource roads. Now they help us get to the best hunting, hiking and camping spots. We live in an amazing place. We should get out and see as much of it as we can no matter what your physical capabilities may be.

Yukoner wrote:
2:28pm Thursday February 16, 2017

For reclamation & to prevent access. Can pull the bridges out when road is no longer needed if project does not go forward.

Rich foreign trophy hunters benefit from the pristine guiding concessions. Regulary Yukoners don’t.


common sense wrote:
1:00pm Thursday February 16, 2017

It would be cool to see this part of our Yukon without having to spend a lot of money on a flight to get to it. It would be for all.

Concerned Yukoner wrote:
8:29am Thursday February 16, 2017

I think Atac is doing their due diligence. This road has been in the works for at least 8 yrs. The Yukon has been built on mining, not trophy big game hunting. Check and see how much mining brings to our economy and how many people does it employ. Yes we have to smarter about the envoirment but we mining and exploration to help maintain our standard of living. Trophy hunting and tourism just doesn’t cut it. Not even close.

Jonathan Colby wrote:
7:02pm Wednesday February 15, 2017

At one time, there was no road to Whitehorse, this is inevitable progress.

BnR wrote:
6:22pm Wednesday February 15, 2017

Nile.  It’s a resource road, not a public access road.  Access would be restricted and a reclamation plan would need to be in place, assuming it gets passed the YESAB review.  Having said that, if the “average” Yukoner needs a road to experience our lovely territory, that doesn’t say much about the “average” Yukoners level of adventure or fitness, does it?

Patrick wrote:
4:34pm Wednesday February 15, 2017

I have talked with Nacho Nyak Dun elder Jimmy Johnny a number of times, He is passionate, honest and sincere.

I take any concerns he has at face value.

ProScience Greenie wrote:
2:24pm Wednesday February 15, 2017

The NND has legitimate concerns, those in the business of helping rich foreigners blast away at big game for trophies, not so much.

Nile wrote:
2:12pm Wednesday February 15, 2017

Oh no a road that might let the average Yukoner see and experience more of our great corner of the world. The sky is falling.

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