when consultation really isnt

It’s still a tad cool, but the summer is upon us. Children are out of school. Soccer is wrapping up. The wilderness and the front lawn beckon.

It’s still a tad cool, but the summer is upon us.

Children are out of school. Soccer is wrapping up.

The wilderness and the front lawn beckon.

So it’s time to hike, ride, paddle, swim, fish, boat, camp, mow, plant, dig, water.


However, all this recreation begs the question, who is minding the Whitehorse waterfront and considering the 20-year plan of the Yukon Energy Corp.?

Because, right at the time when most Yukon residents are focused on absorbing as much sunlight as they can before the long night descends, the Yukon government has started consultations on these two important issues.

The waterfront consultation began in a wall tent at the corner of Wood Street and First Avenue last week.

The goal is to conjure a big-picture plan for the waterfront from citizens.

The tent will travel to various public events until July.

The deadline for written submissions is July 14 — that’s not much time, especially when people are busy and distracted.

Similarly, the Yukon Energy Corp. has started running its 20-year plan by residents.

It’s proposing a host of measures — raising the water level of Marsh Lake; building a power line to Stewart Crossing from Carmacks; building a new turbine at Aishihik Lake; and refurbishing three diesel turbines.

The cost of the equipment will be enormous, running more than $45 million.

Most of it will go towards the Carmacks-Stewart hydro line — at least $32 million.

That project will primarily benefit proposed mining operations in that region. Yukon Energy Corp. has not yet estimated how much of the tab mining companies will have to pay.

And there’s the little matter of raising Marsh Lake’s water level by almost half a metre.

These are issues that people might want to consider and discuss with the utility.

Similarly, debate around the waterfront has been intense, and unless people mobilize and participate they’re liable to be shut out of the process.

Of course, finding time to research, write and contribute to a consultation program is painfully difficult to do during the summer.

Which might, ultimately, be behind the consultation schedule.

Consulting in the summer allows the government to claim it has tapped public sentiment, even as it limits input. Because, as every Yukoner knows, a summer consultation is really no consultation at all.

And that’s why we urge the government to extend the deadline for feedback on these two important initiatives until the end of September. (RM)


The friendly Alaskan border guard

Many bikers were anticipating problems at the US border during the Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay.

A last-minute security update, spurred by the capture of Canadian terrorist suspects in Toronto, led officials to force bikers to stop at a checkpoint in mid ride and present their passports.

It seemed a goofy overreaction.

And some bikers were predicting record-wrecking 20-minute waits.

Support-vehicle drivers were also expecting the tighter border security would cause traffic snarls that would keep them from getting to riders.

In fact, all the worry proved groundless.

Border guards of both nations were friendly and processed the considerable traffic quickly and efficiently.

The bikers were dispatched down the road with nary a delay.

It could have been a disaster.

But it wasn’t.

And officials deserve credit for that.

It helped safeguard a popular international race that gives residents a chance to mingle and maintain and build friendships.

These days, that’s more important than ever. (RM)