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Devolution mistakes make for poor neighbours in Mayo

Kim Klippert wants answers.The proprietor of C & I Construction Ltd., a Mayo-based contractor, doesn’t understand how the Yukon…

Kim Klippert wants answers.

The proprietor of C & I Construction Ltd., a Mayo-based contractor, doesn’t understand how the Yukon government could privately sell a piece of land his company has been using for almost two decades.

For 19 years, Klippert’s company has been digging gravel out of a public quarry located at kilometre 49 on the Silver Trail in Mayo.

When the town’s main garbage dump was decommissioned back in the ‘80s, Klippert applied for a private pit land-use permit, and cleared a 240-metre swath of land for excavation.

“We went out 19 years ago, flagged the area and stripped it,” he said in an interview.

“I’ve got four legal land survey pins sitting right on my property now. The minister and the commissioner have not signed off on it.”

C & I paid $1.50 per cubic metre for industrial access to the site — significantly more than the $0.25 required for public use, he said.

Klippert thought he had “legal tenure.”

But when another Mayo resident applied for land immediately adjacent to the quarry in 2003, the federal department of Northern Development made a mapping error that got lost in the shuffle of devolution.

The applicant — a member of Mayo’s Ewing family — was offered a two-hectare parcel that overlapped the public quarry by 0.115 hectares.

The application was initially received in March 2003, pre-devolution, when land was still within the federal government’s jurisdiction, said lands branch director Lyle Henderson.

A month later, land was the Yukon’s responsibility.

“In April 2003 the applicants provided an acceptance letter, and the Yukon government was obligated to complete that land transaction,” Henderson said in an interview Thursday.

“Approximately 0.115 hectares of one corner of that public gravel pit was included within the mapping sketch that the federal government authorized for sale to Mr. and Mrs. Ewing.”

The dispute is a question of ownership, he said.

“(C & I) don’t own that pit,” said Henderson.

“There is currently no exclusive possession to that pit. They can continue to use the pit as they have before.

“We’ve also advised them that the pit has significant expansion potential, and the Yukon government is fully prepared, through its quarry development program, to extend the pit by a significant amount to free up or provide other granular material to their company, or any other contractors in the area.

“To date, we haven’t been asked to undertake that quarry pit expansion.”

But the section in question is clean land, free of buried garbage and perfect for making cement, said Klippert.

The Ewings want to build a house on the parcel they purchased from the government.

Klippert insists he doesn’t have an issue with his neighbours, but with the government process.

“How can it be given legal title when there is already tenure in place and the site that was originally applied for title was moved completely up on top of the gravel quarry, where there was a pre-existing claim?” he said.

“I want the applicant to reapply. This way everything goes out front and we’ll know exactly what’s going on.

“I would have no opposition, if that were to be the proper procedure. But we were never notified of this prior, and we’re the only ones with anything at stake.

“What they’re doing is waiting for me to cave in and let it go.

“But I can’t. I’ve got too much invested on that gravel quarry, and I want to get to the bottom of it.”