Cathers clarifies his Peel position

Cathers clarifies his Peel position I write to correct several factual errors in your Feb. 15 issue, in particular the headlines "YG rejects Peel plan" and "Open the Peel to industrial development: Cathers", as well as John Thompson's article, which misq

I write to correct several factual errors in your Feb. 15 issue, in particular the headlines “YG rejects Peel plan” and “Open the Peel to industrial development: Cathers”, as well as John Thompson’s article, which misquoted me and misrepresented the government’s position.

At no time did I say that the Yukon government was “rejecting” the Peel plan, or that the Yukon government was opening the majority of the Peel Watershed to “industrial” development. Those assertions are contrary to the facts and misrepresent government’s approach and intentions.

The Yukon government is not rejecting the final recommended plan. In fact, there are many elements of that document that we agree with. We believe that it is time to shift the debate from whether to protect the environment in the Peel, to how to protect the environment in the Peel while allowing responsible use. That is the key question that will be examined in the upcoming consultation, the final stage in the land-use planning process for the Peel Watershed.

As I stated on Feb. 14, the guiding principles for completing the Peel plan process use the central concept from Yukon’s only regional land-use plan, the North Yukon Regional Land Use Plan. That plan provides the highest level of protection for key areas, while managing intensity of use in the majority of the region. That approach and the plan were jointly approved by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Yukon in 2009.

We are seeking common ground and common sense, rather than needlessly polarized debate. It would be helpful if your newspaper could responsibly contribute to this conversation.

For more information, I invite the public to read our Feb. 14 news release, found at www.gov.yk.ca/news.

Brad Cathers

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources