Open letter to the Yukon government:
I have read and listened to the Yukon government’s recent comments on the final recommended plan for the Peel watershed. They raise a number of serious issues and concerns.
1) Prior to and during the territorial election, the government announced it would be “inappropriate” to take a position on the plan before the final round of public consultations. Now, well in advance of these consultations, you suddenly alter that stance and have taken a position. It does seem more than a little disingenuous and indeed misleading to do so at this juncture, having denied full and honest debate of the issues while seeking Yukoners’ votes. I would appreciate an explanation for this change of direction.
2) The government has announced eight new principles “to guide modifications and completion of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.” The current planning process has long adopted and incorporated six original principles, drafted collaboratively and based upon the Umbrella Final Agreement. These have guided the plan since its inception. This “moving of the goal posts” at such a late juncture is neither appropriate, fair, nor respectful of the principles laid out in the final agreement. You cannot expect planning professionals or Yukon residents to accept such a change in planning principles after seven years of plan development. You have lost an enormous amount of goodwill and credibility by taking this route.
3) Minister Brad Cathers inferred (on CBC radio) that only a minority of Yukoners take the position of “not allowing mining activity in that area.” I’m sure you are aware that 87 per cent of respondents to the most recent round of consultations on the Peel plan wanted more than 80 per cent of the watershed protected. I assume you are also aware of the independent Datapath report that confirmed three-quarters of Yukoners supported protection of 80 per cent of the planning region, as outlined in the recommended plan. Here’s the link to that survey report: http://www.cpawsyukon.org/peel-watershed/2009-peel-survey-results.pdf. I obviously don’t need to remind you that the affected First Nations requested total protection for the entire planning region.
To see what should be a respectful and inclusive government continually seek to discredit and disengage those involved in the plan’s development, the affected First Nations and the residents you purportedly serve, makes me ashamed to be a Yukoner. I trust you, your department and government will now endorse the wishes of the majority (including your First Nation government partners) by acknowledging and adopting the final recommended plan. Failure to do so will only serve to undermine democracy and your government’s credibility.