Oil and gas report needs follow up

It was gratifying to see Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) Minister Brad Cathers listen to the concerns of Yukoners and agree to ban oil and gas exploration in the Whitehorse Trough until after the next election.

It was gratifying to see Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) Minister Brad Cathers listen to the concerns of Yukoners and agree to ban oil and gas exploration in the Whitehorse Trough until after the next election.

But, in my attempts to learn more about reasons for this decision, it was disturbing to learn that a summary report will not be prepared as originally planned.

I find this unacceptable, disrespectful and ultimately a lost opportunity. A report is owed to Yukoners that summarizes:

a) views that were recorded, and assesses whether the information presented, and the process followed, were considered adequate;

b) costs (government and public) associated with this disposition process;

c) recommendations that formed the background for the decision. These need to be documented for ministerial accountability, accountability of the process, and for reference in future processes.

The commitment made during the review to have a report prepared needs to be honoured to provide clear documentation and transparency. It is unclear what concerns were deemed valid and what concerns were disregarded.

Or, was the decision based more on a sense that oil and gas exploration in the Whitehorse Trough is not part of the current mandate?

Once the report is completed, we need to ask:

Was this a reasonable cost to bear in reacting to anonymous requests?

Why are costs of disposition processes imposed on the taxpayer, especially when proponents have no obligations to submit bids if their requests for exploration rights are granted? Having proponents responsible for costs would ensure that only serious parties apply and frivolous requests are discouraged.

And would the effort have been better spent on a land use planning process?

Now is the time to review the disposition process. EMR officials acknowledged it really hadn’t been tested thoroughly until now; considerable concerns were expressed.

The current process is entirely reactionary, lacks transparency, is narrow in scope and, as witnessed, can cause considerable and unnecessary panic.

This week, we learned about plans for EMR officials to meet with industry representatives in Calgary to conduct a comprehensive review of oil and gas resources of the Whitehorse Trough. This will potentially escalate interest in this area.

Given what we’ve just gone through, isn’t this premature? Continuing to promote exploration activities in the absence of land use plans will leave the government continuously at odds with both those who care passionately about this land, and with industry, which needs assurances that their investments will not be wasted.

Now is the time to develop a comprehensive land use plan for this area so that future extractions of Yukon’s non-renewable resources, if permitted, can be planned responsibly and done with clear objectives in a transparent and sustainable manner, following procedures that are understood and accepted by those who live here, the stewards of the land, water and air.

There appears to be considerable interest and momentum in doing so. It would be time well spent during the ban!

Sandy Johnston

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read