Develop, sure, but don’t follow Alberta’s example, says senator

In moving forward with development, the Yukon should be careful not to follow Alberta, said Senator Tommy Banks on a recent fact-finding sweep of the…

In moving forward with development, the Yukon should be careful not to follow Alberta, said Senator Tommy Banks on a recent fact-finding sweep of the North.

And Banks should know. He’s from Alberta.

A balance between development and environmental stewardship is often hard to find, said Banks.

“And Alberta hasn’t done a good job of finding it,” he said.

“The trick is to do it in a way that won’t create a mess that nobody can afford to clean up.”

Banks was in Whitehorse Friday as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

The committee was on a weeklong fact-finding mission of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

“We are looking at the impacts of climate change upon the North; upon development, upon the people, upon trade … and vice versa, ” said Banks.

The committee met with representatives of the scientific and business communities as well as government officials in a bid to study how “Canada’s Arctic communities are adapting to climate change and the environmental impacts of economic development in the Arctic.”

“We decided we should come here, see it for ourselves and talk to people closer to the ground in the North than we usually are.”

The committee has drawn no specific conclusions, but it has identified recommendations.

“(Development) should happen in a way that’s not going to place undue pressures on everything else,” he said.

The Klondike Gold Rush remains a potent example of the kind of frantic development the Yukon should seek to avoid.

“We all know how long the gold rush lasted – not very,” said Banks.

Over the past few years, Alberta has seen explosive development in its Athabasca tarsands, a region estimated to hold more crude oil than Saudi Arabia.

“Alberta’s resource development has gone almost unabated, the results upon labour shortages and housing prices and cost-of-living prices wouldn’t be as great as they are if the development had been a bit more carefully spaced.”

“Do the same amount of development, but do it over a longer period of time — don’t be in such a hurry.”

The North provided hard evidence of climate change.

Northern ice roads, for one, have seen a dramatic reduction in lifespan, said Banks.

Previously lasting up to five months, many ice roads now only last 3.5 months.

“The only other way to get in supplies is to fly them in, and the prices just go nuts,” he said.

When accounting for the ice-road needs of major industry, the repercussions can have “major effects on international trade.”

The North needs better infrastructure, the committee learned.

Its residents also need training, said Banks.

Roads need to be built, industries need to be expanded and Yukoners will need the knowledge to do it, he said.

The effects of climate change will increasingly demand focused attention, in the North as much as anywhere else.

“It bumps into sovereignty, health, trade, export, import, everything — everything’s interrelated.”

The rest of Canada could also stand to learn from the environmental perspectives of northerners, he said.

“People have a greater awareness here than they do in the rest of the country about the facts of climate change,” said Banks.

“Never mind how it’s caused — we know we have to deal with it.”

Just Posted

John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file
Catherine Elliott, Yukon acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has announced two new COVID-19 cases in the Yukon.
Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Porter Creek Secondary prom cancelled

Graduating students are encouraged to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms

Jim Elliot/Yukon News
Ross and Cindy Smith are finding more reason to smile as the floodwaters that almost reached their farm house were beginning to recede on June 8.
Farms on South Klondike Highway experience severe flooding

The nearest body of water is a lake almost three kilometres away

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 11, 2021.… Continue reading

Whitehorse courthouse interior on April 6, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
CYFN launches pilot program for community impact statements

First Nations will receive support developing statements after major crimes

Israr Ahmed speaks at a vigil at the Whitehorse Mosque to honour the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on June 10. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukoners gather to honour Muslim family killed in London

Like many communities across the country, Yukoners came together to honour the Muslim family murdered in London Ontario

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)
Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

John Tonin/Yukon News Rang Pillai speaks at the Great Yukon Summer press conference on May 27.
‘The sooner the better’: Operators react to Great Yukon Summer campaign

The Great Yukon Summer campaign was announced May 27 and begins June 4

Mayor Dan Curtis stands in front of Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell during an infastructure announcement made outside Jack Hulland Elementary School in Whitehorse on June 2. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Safety improvements planned for Whitehorse school zones

Enhanced pedestrian crosses are planned to make walking to school safer

2020 Haines Junction graduates line up for a photo on May 27, 2020 as part of a celebration parade through the village. While the St. Elias Community School is able to host an outdoor grad ceremony for 2021 grads this year, it will also host a parade and group photo as it did last year. (Marty Samis/Submitted)
Ceremonies and parades all part of 2021 grad

2021 sees old traditions return with some 2020 events adopted

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
New city hall could cost $24.7 million

Council will be presented with latest plans June 7

Most Read