Ex-Yukon Gold star fined $145,000 for not cleaning up placer operation

Ken Foy, 44, pleaded guilty to four charges related to his placer mining operation outside of Dawson

A former star of the reality television series Yukon Gold was fined a total of $145,000 in Whitehorse court Oct. 5 for failing to properly clean up his placer mining operation outside of Dawson City.

Ken Foy, a 44-year-old resident of British Columbia, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Placer Mining Act and one charge under the Environment Act in early June related to a placer mining operation he ran from 2012 to 2014 along Moose Creek. The charges, laid in 2015, were for failing to leave all disturbed areas in a condition conducive to revegetation, failing to stabilize the disturbed areas, failing to remove materials from the site and contravening conditions of his permit.

Judge Peter Chisholm approved fines of $20,000 each for the Placer Mining Act charges, the maximum amount allowable, and $85,000 for the Environment Act charge. The fines were proposed in a joint submission by Crown prosecutor Julie Desbrisay and Foy’s lawyer Mike Reynolds.

Reading from the agreed statement of facts, Desbrisay said that Foy’s operation spanned 26 claims, making up an area four kilometres long and 610 metres wide, and involved excavating gravel, running it through two sluice plants and depositing the tailings in piles.

The piles, which Foy did not remove, ran the length of the area and were 75 to 100 metres wide, Desbrisay said, and he also left unusable vehicles, dilapidated buildings and a “bone yard” on site. The bone yard, which was essentially a dump, contained strewn and partially-buried waste including five-gallon buckets, 45-gallon drums, wooden pallets, machine parts and scrap wood.

Foy’s failure to properly restore the area also created the risk of land eroding into the creek and filling it with sediment, Desbrisay said, and the government would have to spend “hundreds of thousands, potentially up to a million” dollars to clean up the area.

“This is in the mid-to-high range of culpability, in that it was neither an accident nor an innocent mistake,” Desbrisay said, noting that Foy was given the opportunity to do cleanup work on the area over the summer but didn’t.

Desbrisay said giving the maximum fine for the Placer Mining Act charges was “reasonable” considering the amount of waste left behind and the costs for the cleanup, which would involve examining the soil for contaminants and then sorting and disposing of everything appropriately. The sentence also “sends a message to other operators in the territory that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated,” she added.

The Crown stayed four other charges against Foy.

In his address to the court, Reynolds said Foy has shown remorse for what happened, travelling to Whitehorse throughout the legal proceedings even when he wasn’t required to because he wanted to be a part of making things right again.

Foy, originally from Saskatchewan, entered the “family business” of placer mining in Dawson immediately after finishing high school, Reynolds said, and had a “fairly successful” year at the Moose Creek operation in 2012. However, the next year didn’t go well and Foy failed to satisfy the investment contract, leading to the investor seizing equipment from the site. Foy ultimately failed to remediate the area before his authorizations expired in 2014 and again following a reminder from the government in 2015.

“Unfortunately … Mr. Foy was certainly the author of his own demise,” Reynolds said, adding that Foy has had trouble trying to find work in the two years since he was charged. The work he has found, Reynolds said, “isn’t what it used to be,” and the pay is “not at a level” where Foy was able to meet his family’s needs and also finance a cleanup over the summer.

In a tearful apology following the Crown and defence’s submissions, Foy said he takes “full responsibility” for his actions.

“Even though I made bad choices, I would hope that you take into consideration that my intentions were good for everyone involved,” Foy said in a shaky, unsteady voice, adding that he’d been part of the Dawson mining community for 26 years.

“I will demand more of myself in the future, if I decide to work in the (mining) industry again.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

placer miningYukon courts

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

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read