I am disappointed the Peel Watershed issue seems to have devolved into a black-and-white debate, with the creation of a park as one option and indiscriminate mining as the other.
I realize this may be an oversimplification of the matter, however, time and again I have witnessed discussions of this complex issue reduced to these two basic arguments.
The knee-jerk reaction of making an area into a park to protect it from mining is not a new one (remember the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park in 1993?) and does nothing to reform mining practices.
Similarly, haphazard mining may benefit the economy in the short term, but in the long term will only cripple the territory.
There is great potential for the Yukon to emerge as a leader in sustainable development in the North, something that is desperately needed as more resources are discovered and utilized. Sustainable development is an ideal mechanism to solve the issue since it embraces both environmental conservation and resource development and there is no better place than the Yukon for these ideas to be applied.
I believe a viable alternative to the two extremes would be:
1) A massive reform of the current mining legislation, the Yukon Quartz and Placer acts, and regulations regarding mining practices, something that has needed to happen for a long time anyway.
2) A pause in the expansion of exploration in the Peel Watershed while this legislation is brought into the 21st century, followed by the responsible development of our natural resources under these new regulations.
As someone who was born in the Yukon, and is planning on dying there, I would say that it’s time to start considering long-term investment and planning, on both sides.