Peel mismanagement bodes ill for our future

Peel mismanagement bodes ill for our future The final recommended Peel watershed regional land use plan is one of the finest examples of Yukon land claims implementation that we have. The land-use planning model in the Umbrella Final Agreement is a sup

The final recommended Peel watershed regional land use plan is one of the finest examples of Yukon land claims implementation that we have. The land-use planning model in the Umbrella Final Agreement is a supremely democratic solution to the thorniest of all land claims issues – how to share the land wisely and with respect for each other. It is, after all, a “land claim,” so the land use portion of it is the litmus test of whether we got it right or not.

The history of land-use planning in the Yukon has not been pretty. The North Yukon was chosen as the test pilot because it was believed to be relatively simple: one community, one road, lots of emptiness. The North Yukon plan crashed and burned twice but rose each time from its ashes to drag itself across the finish line with the government on its back nitpicking all the way. The Teslin plan went off the rails and was never heard of again.

And the Peel plan? Well, the Peel plan went innocently ahead as if people were supposed to be honourable and decent. The commission performed its appointed tasks impeccably – three times over six years. And it did so without any sensational meltdowns.

In fact it did so by consensus – they never voted on a thing. Instead they always reached a mutually agreeable solution. Isn’t that elegant? Isn’t that what this whole power sharing thing is all about? Does it get any better?

One would expect that such an accomplishment would cruise in for a safe landing. Not so. At the eleventh hour, when it should be consulting the public on the final recommended plan and nothing but the plan, the Yukon government is offering its own self-generated alternatives even before having heard from the public. This is like a judge giving a verdict in advance of the trial.

Last Friday I went to the government open house to contribute my comments. It is, after all, the public consultation phase as determined by the claim. But, of course, I did not offer comments on the government alternatives because they have no place in the system.

The bureaucrats there were either brave faced and incredibly naive or shame faced and apologetic, “I am just doing my job.”

It is a carnival for sure and it will be coming to a venue near you in the communities. Please drop in but do not let them engage you in discussions about the government alternatives. If you do so you will be contributing to the bait and switch. Simply register your disapproval of this distortion of the correct process and support the existing final recommended plan.

After 18 years we have one battle-scarred land-use plan, one roadkill and one hostage. The future of land-use planning here is bleak indeed. But it will be utterly hopeless if the Peel plan is not approved.

Doug Urquhart

Whitehorse