Real Yukoners favour Peel protection

Real Yukoners favour Peel protection Some people boast in letters to the editor (see Karen Simon: "Leave the Peel for Real Yukoners," Nov. 30) about how long the mining and prospecting heritage goes back in the Yukon. Simon writes: "Stakers are not only

Some people boast in letters to the editor (see Karen Simon: “Leave the Peel for Real Yukoners,” Nov. 30) about how long the mining and prospecting heritage goes back in the Yukon.

Simon writes: “Stakers are not only Yukoners, but they are also the kids and grandkids and great-grandkids of Yukoners. How many of the tourists paddling down the Peel River can say that?” (Quite a few, actually, since many of the wilderness travellers in the Peel are themselves Yukoners.)

Proportionately few Yukon stakers are from here, and of the few who are, it is irrelevant how many were born here or what their lineage is. It is also absurd to imply this somehow gives them extra rights and seniority to the land. If we are considering seniority, then First Nation Yukoners trump the prospectors every time.

After all, they have lived here for over 10,000 years. How many generations does that go back, or do they not count?

We live in a vast territory that is largely already open to development. South of the Ogilvies, there is far more staked than 30,000 people could take advantage of in a few lifetimes much less the next few years.

The final recommended plan put forward by the Peel planning commission isn’t a ploy by conservationists and First Nations to dupe miners, but a recognition that people in the territory share different values and these values should be respected.

That is why if one took the time to actually read the recommended plan they would realize that the Peel planning commission spent over seven years gathering meticulous and comprehensive research and conducting frequent, effective, and transparent consultations with stakeholders, First Nations elders, plan partners and the general public to work out a fair compromise, reflecting the needs and desires of all parties involved.

This resulted in a plan recommending only 55 per cent protection with an additional 25 per cent to be reviewed every 10 years and the remaining open to development. Mining exploration could continue on existing claims even in the protected zone. Isn’t that a definition of a conservative compromise?

More than 75 per cent of Yukoners surveyed in stratified random samples done by Datapath, an independent survey company, agreed with large-scale protection of the Peel watershed. The commission received overwhelming public support for large-scale protection in its seven years of consultations. But apparently this doesn’t work for the Yukon government.

Its new “concepts” would virtually open the entire watershed to development and road access; in other words, other than a few scraps here and there for First Nations, they want it all for industry. How does this in any shape or form, appeal to Yukoners and First Nations who value wilderness and traditional heritage? Where is the compromise in the government’s new concepts?

Thorin Loeks

Whitehorse

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