Time to lift the fog of doubt

The Fentie government should come out of the shadows and tell citizens where it stands on protecting the Peel River Watershed. It's beyond time it did so. In late 2009, the commission studying the issue recommended protecting 80 per cent of the watershed.

The Fentie government should come out of the shadows and tell citizens where it stands on protecting the Peel River Watershed.

It’s beyond time it did so.

In late 2009, the commission studying the issue recommended protecting 80 per cent of the watershed.

The public was consulted through the late summer.

And senior bureaucrats from the Yukon government, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondek Hwech’in, Vuntut Gwich’in and Gwichin Tribal Council have formed a Senior Liaison Committee to hash out the various positions and advise their leaders.

That group was supposed to meet after the public consultations wrapped up in September.

But according to aboriginal leaders the committee unexpectedly went dormant.

Senior territorial officials begged off meeting, saying they were confused by a letter from the aboriginal governments, which provided their position and asked for the Yukon’s, said Chief Simon Mervyn of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun.

The groups are supposed to submit their comments on the recommended plan by December 15.

With that deadline looming, and with the Senior Liaison Committee in limbo through October and November, the chiefs scheduled a meeting with Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Patrick Rouble to figure out what the holdup was.

They cannot continue to discuss the Peel without knowing the Yukon government’s position on protecting the watershed, said Mervyn.

They were to meet November 16 at 9 a.m. at the cabinet offices.

Tr’ondek Chief Eddie Taylor and Mervyn drove from their respective communities to Whitehorse.

Arriving at the scheduled time, they were told by a ministerial assistant – Mervyn is not sure who it was – that Rouble was too busy to meet them. No further explanation was given. No alternative meeting date was suggested.

Rouble has been asked for comment, and has refused to provide one.

(Another meeting to discuss economic development issues in the north Yukon, this one with Highways and Public Works Minister Archie Lang at 1:30 p.m. the same day, was also cancelled. According to Mervyn, Lang said he couldn’t meet them without Premier Dennis Fentie, who was too busy. Officials could not tell Mervyn when Fentie had an opening in his calendar.)

The chiefs are, understandably, frustrated and insulted by the double snub.

Governments that are supposed to be working together, aren’t, said Mervyn.

And, if the government keeps stalling on the Peel, then it should extend the staking moratorium in the region another year, said Mervyn.

But that’s getting ahead of the game.

The public has expressed a desire to protect the Peel.

The aboriginal leaders want the entire region protected.

The mining industry opposes protecting the region.

And the Yukon government? Well, we don’t know. It’s the sole holdout.

It’s time for the Fentie government’s dithering to end.

To provide certainty to industry, aboriginal governments and the public, it must lift the fog of doubt and simply say how much of the Peel Watershed it is willing to protect.

If any at all.

Just Posted

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read