Set the record straight

Set the record straight The Yukon Party government claims that roads can be built, regulated and effectively decommissioned after industrial activities have ceased. Such roads would have minimal impact on the natural environment, wildlife and wilderness.

The Yukon Party government claims that roads can be built, regulated and effectively decommissioned after industrial activities have ceased. Such roads would have minimal impact on the natural environment, wildlife and wilderness.

In reality, none of the thousands of kilometres of Yukon tote roads have been effectively decommissioned. ATVs successfully circumvent obstacles and continue to use tote roads. Once the roads are built, they have a dramatic impact on the landscape, wilderness and wildlife. They are not compatible with wilderness.

Yukon Party claims: the mining sector is the backbone of Yukon’s economy. Exploration and mining bring great economic benefit to the Yukon and ought to be facilitated and encouraged.

Reality: Large expenditures in mining exploration have shown little change in other sectors of the Yukon economy such as retail sales. If exploration and mining are the backbone of our economy, other sectors would show related benefits. This claim is unsupported without a comprehensive input-output analysis.

Yukon Party claims: Providing mining interests free entry to 85 per cent of the Yukon landscape is vital to both the mining industry and the economy. Keeping most of the Peel area open for mining exploration represents balance.

Reality: The 15 per cent of the landscape not available for staking are lands protected by national parks or lands under First Nation jurisdiction. Leaving 85 per cent open to development and 15 per cent preserved does not represent balance. We need to find a better balance between the greed of the mining industry and other values such as those related to tourism and wilderness. Protecting an area does not mean the minerals are going to disappear.

Yukon Party claims: The Yukon has established legislation, regulation and agencies that guarantee protection of the environment.

Reality: Agencies such as the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board and the Yukon Water Board have mandates to protect the environment. The vast majority of their decisions favour industrial interests and dismiss community and environmental input. The Yukon government appointees to these boards have become ministerial servants. They are no longer public servants representing the environmental concerns outlined in their legislative mandates.

Yukon Party claims: The “open house” process meets the minister’s consultation obligation as outlined in Chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Reality: The planning process outlined in the UFA is based on community consultation involving a “give and take” over an extended period that leads to consensus among the planning participants. The Yukon Party “open house” process fails to do this and does not comply with the planning intents of the UFA.

Yukon Party claims: During the last election they said they would not comment on the Peel plan as it might influence the planning process.

Reality: Yukon Party didn’t disclose their opposition to the Peel plan during the election, but following the election they declared an intention to dramatically alter plan while the process was still underway. This demonstrates that they intentionally misled the Yukon public. They were aware of the overwhelming public support for the plan and they didn’t show their true colours during the election to avoid the consequences.

Let’s insist the Yukon Party set the record straight and accept the Peel plan, as developed by the planning commission.

Bob Sharp

Whitehorse