Fracking committee making slow progress

The government's fracking review committee met for the first time this week.

The government’s fracking review committee met for the first time this week.

The committee was formed by a government motion on May 6 after a promise to review hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the territory before any permits are issued for the practice.

It has less than a year left to conduct a rigorous scientific review, facilitate a public discussion, and produce recommendations regarding the highly controversial practice.

The committee’s report is due to the legislative assembly by the spring sitting.

“It’s a major undertaking, I’m sure you know,” said MLA for Watson Lake Patti McLeod, the committee’s chair. “We certainly are planning to have this tabled within our timeframe.”

Fracking involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals into wells deep underground to break apart the rocks and release oil and natural gas trapped inside.

The committee is mandated to determine if the benefits of fracking outweigh the risks here in the Yukon.

“It was a very good introductory meeting,” said McLeod. “At the meeting we of course talked about our mandate and the work going forward, and we named (MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin) Darius Elias as the vice chair.”

Also sitting on the committee are MLAs Currie Dixon, Stacey Hassard, Jim Tredger and Sandy Silver.

McLeod couldn’t say who it will call as witnesses, which communities it will visit, and what timelines will be followed.

“The work ahead will include deciding how to do public consultation and exactly how we’ll do that, which will include which communities that we will be visiting and how often we’ll be going there,” she said.

Other committee members declined to comment on what was accomplished during the first meeting, citing committee rules.

One sticking point for some critics is that the committee’s mandate only requires it to visit Watson Lake and Old Crow for the purpose of consultation.

Other communities may be visited “as deemed appropriate by the committee.”

Yukoners Concerned About Oil & Gas Exploration/Development says their group will try to visit all of Yukon’s communities to consult on fracking, since the government has failed to commit to do so.

The first meeting is scheduled for June 25 in Watson Lake at the recreation complex.

Liard McMillan, chief of the Liard First Nation and an outspoken critic of fracking, will introduce the event, said Don Roberts, the group’s chair.

The goal is to visit every community, but Watson Lake and Old Crow are the priorities, said Roberts.

The group doesn’t have the government’s deep pockets, he said.

McLeod said she finds it “interesting” that some groups have already criticized the committee for how it plans to go about consultation, given that those decisions have not been made yet.

“We have not decided how to move forward for our mandate.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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

Just Posted

The Liberal government blocked a motion by Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers that would have asked the federal government to provide the territories with more than a per capita amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses during initial distribution. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Party says a per capita distribution of vaccines would leave Yukon short

The opposition is also asking the government to release their plan for vaccine distribution


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 4, 2020

Dawson City’s BHB Storage facility experienced a break-and-enter last month, according to Yukon RCMP. (File photo)
Storage lockers damaged, items stolen in Dawson City

BHB Storage facility victim to second Dawson City break-and-enter last month

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

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

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: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Most Read