The Yukon Chamber of Mines outright rejects the final Recommended Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan released on December 2 by the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission.
The chamber believes the commission has completely failed to adequately, objectively and fairly analyse interests of the various stakeholders in the region.
The Peel plan effectively converts into a park an area larger than the province of Nova Scotia.
By banning access and activity in a huge region of the Yukon, this Peel plan is the failed ‘protected areas strategy’ brought back to life in another form.
The chamber finds the commission’s recommendations to be unacceptable because they effectively shut the mining sector, the largest private sector contributor to Yukon’s economy, out of a huge region of the Yukon for no justifiable reason.
The chamber believes the Peel plan, if adopted, will drive mineral investment out of Yukon resulting in a significant negative impact on Yukon’s economy, its local businesses and its citizens.
The Peel plan exposes Yukon, Canada and endorsing First Nations to risk of litigation and considerable payouts for effective expropriation of existing mineral rights.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines object to the Peel plan for numerous reasons, which include the following:
Â¥ The commission has usurped the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (which was agreed by Yukon, Canada and First Nations under the Umbrella Final Agreement) by predetermining, without any review taking place, that mining will result in such adverse environmental and socio-economic effects to warrant banning mining.
Â¥ The commission is undermining the whole basis of the public consultation by recommending more land be withdrawn from development than was set out in any of the previously released scenarios.
Â¥ The Peel plan calls for a ban on mining in 54,400 square kilometres (80.6 per cent) of the entire region, an area greater than the size of Nova Scotia or the entire countries of Switzerland or Holland. The area increases to 65,650 square kilometres (97.2 per cent) when areas where mining is rendered impossible are included.
Â¥ The chamber believes the amount of land alienated from responsible resource development, and many other important sectors of the economy, far exceeds that of any other land use plan, and, should it be accepted, forms a dangerous precedent for subsequent land use plans in the Yukon. The uncertainty created by the Peel plan and the spread of such policies across the Yukon will drive investment and jobs out of the Yukon.
Â¥ Although existing claims will be “grandfathered,” no winter or all-weather access roads will be allowed in the vast majority of the region, rendering the existing mineral claims essentially worthless, as no rational person or company would invest in claims that cannot be accessed. This is de facto expropriation and provides a clear basis for claims for compensation.
Â¥ Mineral exploration has been on going in the Peel plan region since the early 1960s, and yet is still considered by many to be a pristine wilderness, demonstrating the compatibility of mineral exploration activities with other land uses, despite what the commission says.
Â¥ In preparing the Peel plan, the commission ignored the submission of almost 1,000 letters and statements supporting responsible exploration in the Peel region, many of which are from people and companies that have invested many years and considerable capital in the area and in the Yukon.
We urge the Yukon government, Canada and First Nations to take these issues and the many other problems with the Commission’s recommended Peel plan into consideration during their review of the Peel plan.
The chamber strongly advocates either outright rejection of the Peel plan in its current form, or drastic amendment before any implementation is even considered.
Michael Wark, executive director, Yukon Chamber of Mines
See more letters page 10.