Fate of batch plant rests with judge

After two days of legal arguments, the McLean Lake Residents’ Association, the territory and the city have nothing left to do but wait.

After two days of legal arguments, the McLean Lake Residents’ Association, the territory and the city have nothing left to do but wait.

However, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale didn’t say when he would hand down his decision.

Skeeter Miller-Wright, who represented the association, presented his arguments on Tuesday.

He argued that the city’s rezoning of the site and the territory’s approval of the land violated their own laws and regulations.

McLean Lake residents waited too long to submit their petition, argued Michael Winstanley, the lawyer for the territory, on Wednesday.

It had been 27 months since the environmental screening report was released.

There is a 15-year limitation period on petitions under the Environmental Assessment Act, but Winstanley argued that had been imposed because there is often no evidence of a problem until after a project has already been running for some time.

Veale dismissed the argument.

If the petitioners had brought it forward immediately it would have been considered premature, he said.

Miller-Wright’s issues were raised as early as 2004, Winstanley continued. Therefore the environmental screening report was done with those concerns in mind.

The territory looked at all the facts when making its decision, he said.

Winstanley then addressed the residents’ argument that the territory didn’t look at alternative sites, as it is required to under the Environment Act.

It’s not mandatory, said Winstanley.

Why would you look at an alternative site if there’s no significant adverse effects to an existing one, Winstanley asked the court.

“Well, I can think of a lot of reasons,” the judge replied.

The territory then argued that Miller-Wright had brought new complaints before the court that hadn’t been made at previous meetings.

If these complaints had been given to the territory earlier, they could have been taken into account.

“If it was very serious, it wouldn’t have mattered,” replied Veale.

Next the city pleaded its case.

Whitehorse’s Official Community Plan is only a guideline for city planners, city lawyer Lori Lavoie argued.

Council is not obliged to follow the city plan as it’s not a bylaw.

If the court decided that the city did have to follow the plan, as the McLean Lake residents have asserted, then the city would argue that it had.

In the Official Community Plan, the area was planned for natural resource extraction.

The bylaw implemented by council changed the 5.6 hectares from a “future development” zone to “quarry.”

Thus the zoning became more consistent with the plan.

She then pointed out that “Squatter’s Row,” where most of the petitioners live, is situated on land designated natural open space.

“It is difficult, unpalatable even, for those residents to argue bad planning,” she said.

Lavoie defended the city’s decision to not do a hydrological assessment.

She argued that so little water would be used by the batch plant that the assessment wouldn’t make sense.

The plant wouldn’t use that much water but a quarry means digging a large hole and that may have a big impact on the spring-fed lake nearby, said Miller-Wright.

The loss of insulation in the ground due to the hole could also affect the temperature of the lake, which could harm marine life, he added.

Before Justice Veale ended the proceedings, Miller-Wright asked that he not take too long to come to a decision.

“The development is proceeding.”

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

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read