It’s time to act for the Peel

It's time to act for the Peel Tuesday, June 30th is the last day for the public to submit comments on the draft Peel Watershed land-use plan. Even if you have already submitted comments during past phases of the planning process, it is important to make

Tuesday, June 30th is the last day for the public to submit comments on the draft Peel Watershed land-use plan.

Even if you have already submitted comments during past phases of the planning process, it is important to make your voice heard again.

The draft plan can be viewed at www.peel.planyukon.ca. There are printed copies, including a summary sheet, available for viewing at the Peel Watershed Planning Commission office at 202-307 Jarvis Street.

The Yukon Conservation Society is recommending the following: Fully protect at least 50 per cent of the Peel from industrial development, including the Hart, Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume river watersheds, and important cultural areas along the northern Peel main stem.

Protect viewscapes along the Dempster Highway. Clearly define wide buffers along all rivers. Protect viewscapes along all rivers.

Do not allow road access – summer or winter – in the above areas.

Exploration access has almost all been by air to date – there is no need for road access for exploration, and impacts from it would be detrimental to tourism, wildlife and cultural values.

We support the commission’s proposal to end staking of new mineral claims in the Hart, Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume river watersheds.

A moratorium on staking in these watersheds is needed now – before more claims are staked.

More than 10,000 claims have been staked in the Peel since land-use planning began.

Do not let the Yukon government’s statement that there will be no compensation for, or expropriation of claims, influence the commission’s recommended plan.

It is not up to the commission to deal with existing claims. It is the commission’s job to produce a strong plan that the Yukon public and First Nations can support.

The Peel Planning Commission should revise the draft land-use plan in light of previously withheld technical information from Yukon government’s Department of Environment.

A 2006 Gartner Lee report and 2002 Hatch report both indicate that it is highly unlikely that any of the mineral exploration projects in the Peel will ever become operating mines.

The Peel is just too far away from access, power infrastructure and markets.

Significant protection in the Peel Watershed will not kill the mining industry in the Yukon. It would only withdraw about eight per cent of the Yukon’s land base from mining – and this is a land base that is among the least economically viable for mining in the territory.

Karen Baltgailis

Yukon Conservation Society

Whitehorse