Assessors approve Atlin Lake campground

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has recommended that the Atlin Lake campground project go ahead despite opposition from First Nations and neighbours.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has recommended that the Atlin Lake campground project go ahead despite opposition from First Nations and neighbours.

“It feels like the government has created a legal system for itself to legally steal land from under the feet of the Taku River Tlingits. That’s the way it feels to me,” said John Ward, spokesperson for the Atlin, B.C.-based Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

The proposed campground is located on the eastern shore of Atlin Lake, just north of the British Columbia border. It is within the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Taku River Tlingit.

Unlike the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, the Taku River Tlingit do not have a land claims agreement with the Yukon government for the portions of its traditional territory that fall within the Yukon.

The First Nation says the government must first sit down to talk about the land claim, and then talk about what land should be developed, and how.

Ward said he was “disappointed” that the assessment board did not acknowledge that in its decision.

“I think YESAB was in the wrong, knowing full well this violates our constitutional rights.”

The board did mention the potential loss of economic opportunities for the First Nation, but said it “cannot address the hypothetical outcomes of a land claim negotiation between YG and the TRTFN, specifically, what rights might be afforded to the TRTFN, if any, respecting land management decisions for the project area.”

The First Nation is seeking legal advice as to what steps to take next, said Ward. It is prepared to take the battle to court, he said. “We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make a stand for our territory.”

The Yukon government is not likely to back down quietly at this point, he said.

“They’re not going to halt this thing and say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry, we made a mistake. Let’s talk.’ What’s done is done in their mind. They’re plan is to go ahead, bulldoze us aside, and use the land even though it’s not legally theirs, in my mind.”

Camp Yukon, a year-round recreation site located directly adjacent to the proposed campground, also opposed the development.

The group was disappointed but not surprised by the YESAB recommendation, said Joel Nettleton, the camp’s general director.

The organization was cynical with the process from the beginning, he said.

He, like many others, heard about the campground when it was announced in the news as a commitment from the government, he said.

“It wasn’t announced as if it was a possibility that was going to be looked into, and perhaps this could happen,” said Nettleton. “It was announced as something that was going to happen. ‘Merry Christmas, Yukoners, you’re going to get a new campground as a result of the wonderful Yukon government and their generosity with providing you these wonderful facilities.’ Basically, when they have announced it with that kind of a commitment in the announcement, it would be pretty humiliating for them then to … back out.”

The camp is worried about the continued loss of privacy and wilderness character in the area, said Nettleton. It is also concerned about the safety of campers and the security of camp property, he said.

A petition was tabled this week in the legislative assembly urging the government to halt action on the Atlin Lake campground and look for other options.

It suggests that the Conrad historic site, south of Carcross, would be a suitable alternative.

The site was negotiated as part of the government’s final agreement with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

The government must respond to the petition by December 9.

The role of the environmental and socio-economic assessment board is to look at a proposed development and determine if the negative impacts of that project can be mitigated.

If it recommends that a project go forward, it usually includes a list of recommended mitigating conditions.

In this case, the board has suggested 16 terms and conditions. Most are related to monitoring and protecting fish and wildlife in the area.

The board also recommended working with the affected First Nations to protect heritage resources in the area, and developing a safety and security action plan.

The board’s suggestions have been made to the Yukon government, which ultimately may accept, reject or modify the recommendations.

The government plans to open the campground in 2016, at a cost of $780,000 for construction.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read