Open letter to Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski:
I feel compelled to write today after reading news of your government’s position with respect to the Peel watershed. I have followed this issue from afar for some time now.
“From afar” being small town Ontario. I am not a Yukoner anymore but spent a number of years living in Whitehorse and Carcross. I also had the opportunity to paddle the Bonnet Plume in the early ‘80s. We flew into Bonnet Plume Lake, still covered with breaking ice and spent 16 days paddling the swollen river to Fort McPherson. We saw lots of wildlife, stunning peaks and absorbed the beauty of that flowing river. We also saw a whole lot of abandoned 45-gallon drums from previous mining exploration. I know firsthand the beauty of this land, the tranquil and the violent flow of that river and the peace and sense of accomplishment in doing a river trip like this.
I understand your responsibilities as the premier with respect to growing the economy, providing jobs for Yukoners and increasing the level of quality of life for all the people of the Yukon. But at what cost? I understand the mining activity in the Yukon at present is doing fairly well. I am not opposed to mining. In fact, I worked in mining exploration for most of the time I was in the Yukon. You may refer to me as an Outsider, someone from the South, and that not being a Yukoner, I should not have any say in how this land is developed.
My answer to that is that I am a Canadian. I am certain there are lots of Canadians and former Yukoners who recognize the value in protecting land for future generations.
There is a park just south of where I live called Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. It is less than two hours from Toronto and, as there are no road access points into the land, likely receives fewer visitors than the Peel watershed. It is a piece of land protected. It has been set aside so that future generations can enjoy a space of natural beauty as the surrounding lands become more developed. It also contains the headwaters for various water systems. I have never been there. Whether I ever go see this park is really irrelevant Ã it is the fact that spaces like this exist that is comforting. There is something very Canadian about that.
There will come a time when the value of the protected land will exceed the value of what is in the ground.
I ask that you move cautiously on any decisions on the Peel watershed. Think in terms of investment on the long term. Think how your grandchildren would view action taken today. You now have an opportunity to create a legacy for all Yukoners and all Canadians. Please do not take this responsibility lightly.
Muskoka Falls, Ont.