The Yukon Green Party strongly supports the final recommended plan as presented by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission in July 2011. We respect the commission’s recommendations of 80 per cent interim protection, with 55 per cent permanent protection.
The final recommended plan was the result of a land planning process conducted under the Umbrella Final Agreement, a binding agreement. Six and a half years of planning and consultation were involved in the process. It was a fact-based approach that included input and feedback from stakeholder groups. It is counterproductive to undermine the time, money and effort expended by the commission.
It is important to note that a large number of Yukoners, including many First Nation stakeholders, lobbied for 100 per cent protection from industrial development. The final recommended plan is already a major compromise, protecting only 55 per cent of the planning area for the long term.
The Peel watershed is the second of eight land use regions to undergo a formal planning process. We would like to see these processes be effective and respectful so that future land-use plans can enjoy a pattern of cooperation, clarity and inclusiveness. When a government simply ignores the recommendations of an authorized agency that has worked with the public cooperatively, conscientiously and in good faith, it does not bode well for the future of land planning in the Yukon.
Furthermore, it is clear that the Yukon government’s recent proposals are designed to allow road access throughout “protected areas” and “restricted use wilderness areas” as well as “restricted use wilderness corridors.” The result is a lack of genuine protection prescribed for any part of the watershed. This is a totally untenable position.
The Peel watershed is a unique, largely roadless wilderness area. As such, it is an increasing rarity. Most of the Yukon will remain accessible to varying degrees of industrial development. We have an opportunity to pass on to future generations a wilderness area that will have vastly more long-term value in its natural state than any short-term industrial projects could hope to have.
Leader, Yukon Green Party