Road funding jumps the gun

$360M for mining roads ‘a subversion of due process’

The federal and Yukon territorial governments have announced $360 million to upgrade various public roads with the specific intention to “set the stage for the long-term development of the territory’s growing mining sector.” The roads in question are the Nahanni Range Road (the most likely access to Selwyn-Chihong’s Selwyn project), and four roads in the Dawson Range, including those that would be used by the proposed Goldcorp’s Coffee Gold project and the Western Copper’s Casino project.

None of these potential mines has completed environmental assessments under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board process. I argue that by making this funding announcement at this time, governments are prejudicing the outcomes of the environmental assessment processes.

YESAB has the legal option to recommend that a development proposal be rejected, with final decision-making powers resting with the territorial cabinet. By committing large amounts of public money to road upgrades in advance of the results of the environmental assessments, the territorial government has effectively biased its future decisions on whether to accept these development proposals, whatever the outcomes of the environmental assessments.

The government would clearly want to accept a project after publicly investing in its associated infrastructure. This is a subversion of due process.

Donald Reid

Conservation zoologist, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada