Community Services’ disservice

Community Services' disservice Open letter to Community Services infrastructure branch program manager Brian Richie: The village of Haines Junction gave me your name as a contact with Community Services as the agency responsible for issuing the contract

Open letter to Community Services infrastructure branch program manager Brian Richie:

The village of Haines Junction gave me your name as a contact with Community Services as the agency responsible for issuing the contract for the new development at Willow Acres in Haines Junction. I am appalled at how the contract is being fulfilled. The reckless bulldozing and burning of the overburden is anything but acceptable. Polluting Haines Junction and wasting natural resources is incorrigible.

When is the Yukon government going to behave responsibly? The methods chosen to clearcut the road right-of-way for the new subdivision is just wrong on so many levels.

Community Services is polluting an area known for its beauty and pristine environment. It’s jeopardizing the health of the citizens of Haines Junction. The smoke from its little project has completely filled the valley and surrounding area. I live nine kilometres from Haines Junction and I can smell the smoke when I open the door to my home.

There are many citizens of Haines Junction who have compromised respiratory systems. This contract is forcing them to stay indoors to maintain their health. Perhaps we should consider calling the department Community Disservices. This polluting of Haines Junction started last Thursday. How much longer are the people of Haines Junction going to have to put up with this reckless behaviour and the total lack of concern for peoples’ health? The fresh air and vistas in the Junction are continually being obliterated by the Yukon government either by the so-called Firesmart program or by the clearing of highway right-of-ways. Shame on the government!

Has anyone ever thought of logging the trees for firewood, and chipping the branches and brush? How many hundreds of cords of wood are being burned in this project? I went to view the site, which appears to be two to three hectares of clearcut land. I was told that the contract included salvaging trees of a certain diameter; apparently the preferred dimensions were too large, as I could only see four to five cords of wood that have been set aside for use as firewood from a clearcut of several hectares of dense forest. What money the Yukon government is saving with this wanton lack of consideration for the health of the citizens of Haines Junction the citizens will be paying for in health problems.

Community Services is a one-stop shop. First, it pollutes and compromises peoples’ health through programs initiated by its community infrastructure branch and Firesmart, through slashing and burning. Then emergency medical services comes into play to transport anyone having respiratory emergencies and then hand them off to Health and Social Services. The reason for moving emergency medical services from Health to Community Services is now clear. They are the cleanup crew for Community Services’ ill-conceived plans. Community Services may save a bundle through bulldozing and burning instead of considering ecological alternatives, but at what cost?

When is the Yukon government going to get an intellect and a conscience? The Yukon Party purports to support business but apparently not the health of its citizens. Why not hire contractors to salvage or harvest the trees for firewood or lumber and chip the remainder. That would save health dollars and promote a cleaner and healthier lifestyle for its citizens. The present way of conducting business is archaic and would not be acceptable anywhere but in a Third World country.

Poor leadership has bled into the general population. Those who can afford to purchase or already own large tracks of land feel free to bulldoze their land, and burn the piles, which sometimes continue to pollute the area for weeks. Why does the Yukon government support and condone these unacceptable and unhealthy practices? Oh yes, leading by example?

I moved to Haines Junction for a healthy lifestyle and for the beauty of the surroundings, but that is constantly thwarted by the government. Every year, for the past 12 years, the winter air has been tainted with the grey-yellow haze of smoke from the clearing of right-of-ways or from Firesmart.

The village of Haines Junction commissioned me to photograph two mountain ranges in the Haines Junction vicinity for a tourist information kiosk. I cannot complete that task because whenever the weather is suitable for photographs the view is obliterated by smoke from some government project or by someone wealthy enough to hire a bulldozer to clear their land.

Perhaps one day the Yukon government will realize what a jewel the Yukon is, and will start governing appropriately with regulations that support both health and good business.

Bruce Binder

Haines Junction