I was disappointed to read the speaking points of Premier Darrell Pasloski at the Yukon Geoscience Forum recently. It seems to me that Pasloski, his government and his speech writers have once again demonstrated their love of mining and complete disregard for the Yukon’s “world renowned wilderness.”
Pasloski stated in his address to the forum that “what many don’t see is the value and beauty of the geology beneath that landscape.” Well, we definitely will not see that beauty once those rocks have been blasted and then passed through the primary crusher, the secondary crusher, the ball mill and the flotation cells. That beauty will be unrecognizable and never again seen in its original form.
Perhaps this irony was lost on Pasloski’s speech writers. Pasloski’s government is not content with just encouraging environmental damage at the surface through poorly planned development, they are also happy to ruin the lovely rocks that lie beneath our feet.
I am not against mining per se, and I have mostly been employed in the Yukon because of mining and exploration.
However, I am against the saccharin coating that Pasloski and his government pour over the mining industry.
I would much rather they recognize the industry for what it is - with all the good and bad that comes with it - and clearly lay out their plan to responsibly manage mining in the Yukon to achieve a balance of a robust economy and a lasting, unblemished wilderness.
The government should prioritize the land planning process in the Yukon that includes structured input from Yukoners who can have a say in how our resources are used. We need to designate areas as being available for mining, and designate other areas as out of bounds to mining, all largely driven by ecological values.
As part of the process, thought needs to be given to the cumulative effects of all development in an area and the social and economic effects of development over time. “Wasn’t this kind of approach adopted for the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan?” I hear you ask. Silly me, of course it was. It’s just too bad the government can’t be trusted to follow a process when they don’t like the outcome of that process.
Instead of prioritizing and implementing land use planning that helps to manage the negative and positive effects of development, the government continues to tell us that the Yukon is open for business and that they will not be “unduly swayed by environmental concerns.” According to Pasloski, the “resources embedded in our ground are nature’s endowment to us.”
More poorly chosen words, Mr. Pasloski. You are not supposed to use up the endowment capital (those beautiful rocks) but live off the interest that the capital accrues. Not so easy to do when mining rocks. Mining does have a place in the Yukon, so let’s get on and responsibly plan for it and very much be “swayed by environmental concerns.”