These Peel watershed consultations are a sham

These Peel watershed consultations are a sham The Yukon government "consultation" on the Peel plan is a fraud on three counts: it is insincere, it is manipulative, and it cannot fulfill its legal obligations as it pretends to do. The Yukon government co

The Yukon government “consultation” on the Peel plan is a fraud on three counts: it is insincere, it is manipulative, and it cannot fulfill its legal obligations as it pretends to do.

The Yukon government come-on ad blares: “We want to hear from you.” Really? They already know what Yukoners think. They’ve had six long years of an open public planning process with extensive consultation and massive public input from all sectors of society. What part did they miss?

The problem is that they did not like what they heard. Cabinet has said in effect: “We understand the public interest better than the public does, so we will decide what is good for them.” On what basis they claim this wisdom is unclear.

The best way to whimp out on public consultation is to conduct an “open house.” It maintains the appearance but provides none of the real function of consultation, which is an open exchange of ideas among the public and the proponents.

Governments with sketchy or controversial proposals hate open, active public meetings where citizens speak freely to each other as well as to the “suits.” A public meeting allows citizens to form a critical mass where they actually debate and learn from each other. Governments who are trying to float something by will avoid this risk if they can.

This terror was manifest at the geoscience forum when respected Fort MacPherson elder Charlie Snowshoe attempted to address Resources Minister Brad Cathers. Cathers wanted none of it, stating he was not there for questions. In short: I am here to tell you … I am not interested in what you have to say, no more than I want to hear what my staff have to say.

Manipulation is evident in the material presented by the government. The real meaning of the “plans” written by territorial bureaucrats is glossed over with misleading green shades and labels misusing the word “wilderness.” They deliberately obscure the fact that these plans would allow roads virtually anywhere in the Peel watershed. The meat and the careful compromises of the Peel commission’s plan are not touched on.

Finally, and sadly, after this charade, the Yukon government will still not have fulfilled its legal obligation under the Umbrella Final Agreement to consult about the final recommended plan. The UFA instructs the government to consult on the final recommended plan before it rejects or modifies it.

The Yukon government has got the cart firmly before the horse. Worse, it has muddied the consultation by interjecting its own “plans,” developed entirely outside of the legal UFA planning process.

This should alarm you, no matter what party you support and no matter what you think about the balance between development and wilderness in the Peel. Legal process is a serious matter that binds all of us. Especially government.

David Loeks

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read