Letter to the Editor

Municipal act falls flat: mayors I have a particular interest in the Yukon’s Municipal Act. This is pioneering legislation for Canada as it…

Municipal act falls flat: mayors

I have a particular interest in the Yukon’s Municipal Act.

This is pioneering legislation for Canada as it concerns the empowerment of citizens and residents who, we must never forget, live with and pay for the economic, cultural and social consequences of local government decisions.

There appears to be some concern on the part of some Yukon municipal politicians that the public votes provisions in the municipal act “override council’s own decision-making processes” to quote from the article.

A key principle of local government in the Yukon, established in the municipal act’s preamble, is “that public participation is fundamental to good local government.”

Another key principle is “that Yukon municipal governments are created by the government of the Yukon and are responsible and accountable to the citizens they service and to the government of the Yukon.”

Unlike their provincial counterparts, Yukon municipal councils do not have a monopoly on power.

The Act establishes that the power to govern a municipality in Yukon is to be shared by councils and citizens, with citizens having the last word.

Buckway’s question: “If you hold referendums to make the decisions that council is supposed to make, why do you have a council?” misses that important fact.

The new municipal act was proclaimed a decade ago and citizens have been rather frugal in the use of their rights. There was the green-spaces referendum in Whitehorse and the more recent sewage treatment plant location referendum in Dawson.

Two referendums in 10 years in the entire territory hardly constitute an abuse of power!

More disturbing than the citizens’ use of their democratic rights is the decision of Whitehorse council to sue one of its citizens for attempting to make use of the municipal act’s public votes provisions.

Under these circumstances it would be more appropriate for citizens to ask: If we are going to be taken to court for attempting to exercise our democratic rights, what is the use of having democratic rights?

André Carrel

Salmo, BC

We support the leader,

and we’ll win

We, the members of the Yukon Liberal caucus wish to express our collective disapproval of Wednsday’s editorial as it relates to caucus support for our leader, Arthur Mitchell.

We unanimously support Mitchell. That is an unqualified statement!

We are ready to lead this territory. We are confident the Yukon public considers our team ready and prepared to govern. We will do so with Mitchell at the helm.

Our caucus works on a daily basis to evaluate and improve our performance. This is a very open party where constructive criticism is encouraged and welcomed, unlike some other parties. This is one of the fundamentals that makes us strong.

We know Mitchell as a very intelligent, competent and compassionate man. Above all else, he is a leader with integrity.

We have every confidence that he will soon be the premier of this territory.

Gary McRobb, Eric Fairclough, Darius Elias and Don Inverarity

Whitehorse

Take time to remember

This is to remind the public that the annual Legion Remembrance Campaign will soon be underway.

Businesses will be contacted with an offer to purchase Remembrance wreaths to display at their place of business. Poppy boxes will appear at various places around town. Legion members will be offering poppies at the Liquor Store, Wal-Mart, Super Store and Canadian Tire. They will be wearing discernible identification cards.

On November 1 and 8 Cadets will be at various locations offering poppies as well.

At noon on Wednesday, November 5 we will hold our annual Poppy Flag ceremony at Veterans Square by city hall; drop by and salute our veterans.

On Friday, November 7, the Legion will host a veteran’s appreciation event. Veterans, old and young, from any war, including the one going on now, as well as Legion members and supporters are invited to attend.

Community organizations, groups and service clubs will be contacted with an offer to lay a wreath at the Remembrance ceremony; if you are not contacted, please contact me at the Legion at 667-2802.

The Remembrance ceremony starts at 10:15 a.m. on November 11 at the Canada Games Centre.

Whitehorse Transit will be offering special bus services that day. Check the newspapers.

So far, the sale of wreaths and money donated for poppies has provided more than $65,000 for medical equipment for Whitehorse General Hospital.

Through the years thousands more have gone to provide various services to our veterans. Recently the Legion invested $10,000 in the Veterans’ Transition Program to assist those who suffer from the invisible wounds of war resulting from their service to world peace.

Remember that freedom is not free, never has been, never will be; it takes a soldier to assure our freedom. It takes those with guts to put their lives on the line for our lives, for our democratic way of life.

Please do support Remembrance Day; take the time to remember.

Comrade Red Grossinger, Legion president

Whitehorse

It ain’t sick, don’t slag it

I have been in the Yukon for five years and until recently I have been very impressed with the professionalism and open dialogue that has existed between environmentalist groups and the Yukon mining sector.

Communication is essential to sustainable and responsible exploration and mine development in Yukon.

However, the recent tone, context and factual correctness of communications by local environmentalist groups, such as the Yukon Conservation Society, has greatly disappointed me.

If the mining industry was to describe well-considered legislation as “sick” it would be immediately and very strongly criticized by many groups.

I am not even convinced that if we were to express ourselves in that manner that our response would be printed.

The Yukon Placer Mining Act is not a “sick” legislation, as implied by Gerry Couture of the Yukon Conservation Society … it is a model of excellent legislation, respected across the country as being on the leading edge and is also supportive of responsible and sustainable placer mining activities.

Couture is being irresponsible issuing such statements.

Furthermore, the Yukon Conservation Society has implied the proposed royalty scheme within the amendments to the existing Quartz Mining Act will not look out for the public good.

What is not stated is that the royalty scheme has been proposed after open public consultation and the proposal selected was based on a very comprehensive study by David Gladwin, one of Canada’s renowned mining taxation experts.

Being responsible, and on behalf of all Yukoners, the Yukon territorial government solicited Gladwin to provide detailed research and calculations leading to a variety of royalty options and their comparisons to those existing in all other jurisdictions in Canada — an excellent piece of factual research on which to base good decisions for Yukoners.

This led to the proposed Yukon royalty scheme to be included as an amendment within the Quartz Mining Act.

According to calculations presented in the Gladwin report, royalties accruing from hard-rock mining activities in Yukon would be comparable and in most cases on the upper end compared to other jurisdictions in Canada.

In other words, the Yukon government within this royalty scheme appears to be taking a conservative approach, aimed at ensuring Yukon remains a competitive jurisdiction with a balanced approach that, on one hand, provides significant benefits to all Yukoners and on the other continues to attract exploration and mine investment to our territory.

The Yukon Conservation Society also implies companies enjoy “special treatment” in Yukon through the “right to free-entry.”

The “right to free-entry” only provides an opportunity for industry to acquire the mineral rights.

Additionally, before a resource can be commercially exploited, the project is subjected to comprehensive environmental assessment and numerous regulatory and licensing requirements.

It is standard industry best practice today to inform all groups of any activities we plan to do, to keep governments and First Nations informed of our activities.

I can confidently say that 99 out of 100 times industry does this.

Most of us have learned that fostering positive working relationships with First Nations and local communities is an essential part of our day-to-day business and we spend a lot of money and resources doing it.          As a majority of us do not generate revenues, being able to expand community development helps to offset the major investment required for our project.

This is not a huge benefit, but in these trying markets and with the high risk associated with investment into the mining sector, such deductions again provide that little bit of help we all need to continue operations and acquiring investment. Investment in good projects will provide significant and long term benefits to Yukoners, First Nations and Canadians.

Finally, Karen Baltgailis’ statement that support for mining and the right to free-entry is “…at the expense of other industries” is another irresponsible and totally incorrect statement.

I had “Joe” the courier guy in my office the other day.

He was worried about the market conditions and the impacts of the global financial crisis on our sector.

Why?

Because just in their local business this year the mining sector has doubled its level of activity in the local courier business.

Mining is the cornerstone of the Yukon economy and will remain so for a long time. In many other ways the mining sector is working closely with other groups such as the tourism sector to foster a positive working relationship.

I suggest investment in Yukon by the mining sector since the 1890s has always contributed significantly to both short- and long-term benefits to all Yukoners and has ensured that the economy of our territory can grow and remain healthy in the long term.

Infrastructure investment is critical to any long-term growth, and to both direct and indirect jobs, as we cannot always expect to run a government-based economy forever.

The “right to free-entry” is a critical component to our sector and one that must remain in order for us to remain an attractive place for exploration and mine development.

The “right to free-entry” does not hurt other industries … it supports their growth and development too … .”

“Joe” knows that!

All businesses in Yukon know that!

Without the continuation of the “right to free-entry” other industries will indeed suffer and that would indeed hurt Yukon.

Kevin Brewer, mining industry consultant

Whitehorse

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