Protect the Peel

Protect the Peel The Conservation Klondike Society supports the final recommended Peel watershed regional land-use plan released by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission in July 2011. The plan represents the product of a legitimate, lengthy and thorough

The Conservation Klondike Society supports the final recommended Peel watershed regional land-use plan released by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission in July 2011.

The plan represents the product of a legitimate, lengthy and thorough consultation process, and we acknowledge that four out of the five governments involved are in support of this plan. Having followed the Peel consultation process, we are convinced the plan represents a reasonable compromise between those many individuals and all four First Nation governments who would have liked to see 100 per cent protection of the Peel watershed, and those who would like to see continued industrial development in certain portions of the Peel.

This compromise is plainly visible in the plan where only 55 per cent of the region is placed under permanent protection, with the remaining 45 per cent being divided into regions of short-term protection and various levels of development permitted.

Twenty per cent of the Peel watershed remains open to a variety of land uses, and would continue to allow new surface access under the plan. It meets the goals set out for it under the Umbrella Final Agreement and upholds the principles of sustainable development.

The Yukon government’s present consultation does not adhere to the rules set out in the Umbrella Final Agreement, which is a Yukon law and is embedded in the Canadian Constitution.

There was ample opportunity for the Yukon government to clearly state its objectives at appropriate times throughout the consultation. The fact that the Yukon government provided only vague and general statements regarding their visions or changes to draft versions of the plan, and, to quote the commission in the forward to the plan, “did not discuss why it wanted these changes and where it felt they might be appropriate” nor “what modifications it sought,” provides evidence that the Yukon government has simply waited too long to take a firm stance, and that now is no longer the time when changes of the magnitude proposed by Yukon government should be under discussion or consideration.

We believe that including Yukon government’s proposals in this current consultation is outside the Yukon government’s mandate and in violation of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Further, we are disturbed at the superficial nature of this present consultation. An open-house format, without an official presentation or method of public discussion, is entirely inappropriate and does not allow for genuine participation and exchange of ideas. In addition, the confusing, if not outright misleading, use of colours in the government’s proposed new land-use categories feels like an attempt to “greenwash” the proposed new concepts.

Our society supports the plan as it stands, and we do not feel this current consultation is necessary, or even acceptable.

Derrick Hastings,

President of CKS

on the behalf of the CKS board of directors