Charette or charade?

Charette or charade? Open letter to David Morrison, CEO of Yukon Energy Corporation: I would like to thank you for letting me attend the energy charette. It was a good learning opportunity for many Yukoners. The sharing of information and knowledge about

Open letter to David Morrison, CEO of Yukon Energy Corporation:

I would like to thank you for letting me attend the energy charette. It was a good learning opportunity for many Yukoners. The sharing of information and knowledge about these complex issues is very important in order for us to understand and appreciate the process that Yukon Energy has to undertake when juggling the competing priorities and the struggle to come to the best decisions. When people understand the language and have good information, then people can make the best choices.

In the continuing spirit of transparency I feel the charette had some great strengths and some shortcomings.

The strengths were the bringing of such a diverse set of people together, the public engagement and the process of learning and wrestling with the competing issues. These strengths were clear and they were noted and exclaimed by you and by the participants.

May I raise a few shortcomings of the charette, because these did not seem to be very apparent to the participants.

Firstly, to have a wind expert come from down south to present the most promising wind energy project in the Yukon as being Ferry Hill is baffling to me. Ten years of data collection and extensive modelling have been done on Mount Sumanik to the north of Haeckel Hill. Yukon Energy had a wind feasibility study done for that mountain in 2008. The beauty of wind is that it is stronger in the winter when demand is up and hydro has a dwindling supply. Why wasn’t Mt. Sumanik presented? Why did the charette participants have to write a wild card for it so that it could be considered in the charette process?

Secondly, there was no mention during the whole charette about the full-page ad that the residents of Atlin had put in both papers voicing their concerns about Yukon Energy’s proposed “control” of Atlin Lake for additional winter water storage. The ad was specifically directed towards the charette. This would have been a magnificent fit into the charette’s “wild card” process, showing some of the significant public input which Yukon Energy should be considering as it makes its difficult decisions. Allowing it to be part of the charette process would have given participants a better understanding of stakeholders’ concerns and how Yukon Energy handles these issues. It was an amazing opportunity for the participants to learn and appreciate Ð but this important teachable moment was lost.

Thirdly, there was no mention nor discussion about the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s September 2010 letter to Yukon Energy about the Gladstone Diversion Project (Yukon News, Yukon Energy’s Gladstone Smokescreen, March 4, 2011). I was so relieved that Fisheries and Oceans realized early on that this damaging and distressful project was a no-go. As a resident of Kluane who has hiked and camped all over the Ruby Range, the Gladstone Lakes are like a string of liquid jewels that feed and quench the thirst of many animals and fish.

Fisheries and Oceans gave you a heads-up five months ago, to save Yukon Energy a whole lot of money, and you just continued on, telling everyone from First Nations to the business community that there had been no show stoppers on this project. But in the face of the Fisheries and Oceans letter, I’m sure a lot of Yukoners are wondering just what is going on. These are important considerations for the charette participants to understand. Both Gladstone and Atlin were presented as viable options for hydro enhancement projects. Why?

What was the reasoning for this?

For all the desired and stated transparency, why were the facts above not included? Yukon Energy would have won so much by including them. You cannot just simply claim that the charette gave Yukon Energy a clear direction for moving forward when all the available information wasn’t shared.

Please don’t make this charette into a charade.

Sally Wright

Kluane Lake