Re: Peel protectors are misunderstood (Dec. 19)
I feel compelled to respond to Joe McIntyre’s recent letter in which he characterizes the Peel Watershed Regional Planning Commission’s final recommended plan as a theft of 10 per cent of Yukon.
This is a puzzling accusation because the land will continue to be there, and we shall all remain able to go there and even make a living there, (although not by mining everywhere in the Peel.) It will continue to belong to all Yukoners.
As a member of the Dawson District Renewable Resources Council, with a mandate from the Umbrella Final Agreement to be the “primary instrument of fish and wildlife management in Tr’ondek Hwech’in Traditional Territory,” Joe ought to be concerned by the way the Yukon government is setting aside the product of the commission after so much work.
This is the equivalent of his council working on a recommendation on, for example, how domestic sheep should be regulated, for several years, with multiple consultations with the affected First Nations, other councils, the public, all stakeholders and various government departments and at the very end to have the recommendation distorted beyond recognition with no equivalent work or consultation behind it, all because some people in the government had a philosophical concern with regulating domestic sheep.
Perhaps Joe wants to reconsider lumping category A and B land in with protected areas. As a member of a UFA-mandated body, as is the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Planning Commission, Joe should be aware that category A and B First Nation settlement land is not protected for or against anything, but it does belong to the First Nation.
I am sure he is aware that the Minto mine is on Selkirk First Nation category A land. As a miner, I am sure he is aware that with suitable permits he can explore on First Nation settlement land and upon the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations, can even mine on it.
Joe points out that recent innovations in mining and oil and gas regulations have resulted in lower environmental impacts. It’s true that regulations are stricter than, for example, when Faro was operating. One does indeed hope that the Yukon government has learned from the past and the mines that have come or are coming into production in the last few years will not leave massive cleanup costs for taxpayers to cover as all the previous ones did.
But even more than mines and exploration, the roads, the surface access, have the really big long-term impact. It is the restrictions on new roads that are the starkest differences between the final recommended plan and the new concepts of the Yukon government. Joe asks us to say “no” to the Peel project. By this does he mean we should say “no” to regional land-use planning?
Finally, I find fascinating his argument that we should allow mining in the Peel so the evil mining companies do not go elsewhere to trash unsophisticated places even worse!