Think of the future

Think of the future Open letter to the Yukon government: For the past years, the people in the Yukon have been talking about the Peel River Watershed protection. Public consultation has shown overwhelming support for the Peel Watershed to be protected Ð

Open letter to the Yukon government:

For the past years, the people in the Yukon have been talking about the Peel River Watershed protection.

Public consultation has shown overwhelming support for the Peel Watershed to be protected Ð 80 per cent to 90 per cent of Yukoners want to see at least 80 per cent of the area protected, First Nations ask for 100 per cent protection.

Why does the Yukon government not listen to the public opinion?

Why does the Yukon government put aside the Peel Planning Commission’s recommended plan like it was never written?

We’re currently in a mining boom and the Yukon government happily supports this industry. This industry relies on nonrenewable resources and isn’t infinite. It’s a finite industry. There’ll be tons of money coming into the territory in the near future, but when all resources are used the money will stop floating in.

Hasn’t the Yukon government learned from Faro?

After the mining money is dried up, only costs are left. Despite new regulations, there will be enormous costs for the government to clean up after the industry. The environment will be diminished in value forever; the chemicals put in the ecosystem will never leave the system Ð instead they will be spread deeper into the environment.

Roads and cuttings will have a disastrous effect on all wildlife and flora currently existing in the Yukon.

What does this mean for the far future?

Tourism is important for the Yukon economy. How interesting will the Yukon be for tourists when the wilderness isn’t the wilderness anymore?

The argument can be made that it’ll be more accessible than before, thanks to all the roads put in by the mining industry.

That might be true, but roads are not part of a wilderness experience. People come to the Yukon for an off-road experience; to be able to spend days and weeks in nature without coming across roads. Yukon will look just like northern Alberta, not exactly a tourist destination.

When the Yukon cannot offer this experience anymore, what will be left of the tourism industry? They might as well stay down south, where a wilderness experience combined with development is already present. Where are we getting an economy for this territory if mining and tourism are both nonexistent?

Why is the Yukon government so arrogant to only think of short-term income? Why can’t it take into consideration that it’ll ruin the whole territory by opening it up to the mining industry?

Future generations will need to be able to live on this land just like we do now. First Nations need the land the way it is now to be able to continue their traditional lifestyle. We are in no position to take that important part of their lives away from them. We need to leave a liveable territory for First Nations’ traditions and for all future generations. This means we need to search for sustainable industries in the Yukon, and the mining industry is not a sustainable industry.

So please, Yukon government, think of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the generations after that. Wilderness exists forever if it isn’t touched and changed and poisoned by humans. It’s self-sustaining, sustainable and makes for a good tourism industry. Think long-term; short-term is over before we know it Ð and then what are we going to do?

I vote for 100 per cent protection of the Peel River Watershed.

I moved to the Yukon from a heavily industrialized and developed place to live close to the wilderness, to be able to experience the wilderness.

There’s no money in the whole world that can replace this experience. Not for me and not for your great-grandchildren either. Keep them in mind before you make decisions that have a disastrous effect on the wilderness and the future economic system of the Yukon.

J. van Gulick

Whitehorse