Government seeks feedback on Environment Act changes

The Yukon government is looking for public feedback on changes to the Environment Act. The act was written in 1991, and much has changed since then, said Environment Minister Currie Dixon.

The Yukon government is looking for public feedback on changes to the Environment Act.

The act was written in 1991, and much has changed since then, said Environment Minister Currie Dixon.

Many of the proposed changes would increase the government’s ability to enforce regulations, said Dixon. One has to do with inspections.

Right now, environmental protection officers can only do inspections on properties that have a permit. Someone can call and complain about something they see their neighbours doing on private property, but the protection officers can’t come and investigate, said Dixon. Changing the act will give them this authority, said Dixon.

Another proposed change increases the minister’s ability to ban hazardous substances and pesticides. The act lists nine different categories of hazardous substances. But there’s no provision to let the minister ban chemicals, said Dixon. Changing the act will let the Yukon identify what chemicals it wants to ban, he said.

The government is also looking at allowing industry-led recycling initiatives. In other parts of Canada, businesses partner together to recycle things like oil and tires, said Dixon. But in the Yukon, all recycling programs are funded through the recycling fund. Businesses couldn’t create their own programs. This change makes it possible for them to do that, said Dixon.

Other proposed changes include making it easier for a third party to clean up contaminated sites and allowing the minister to approve waste management plans for specific facilities. Right now, management plans need cabinet approval.

And a requirement for a territory-wide management plan would be removed. Simply requiring local plans would more efficient, according to a discussion document.

Public comments are being accepted until Oct. 14. People can call 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5634, email ppar@gov.yk.ca or go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/env-act to submit feedback.

Changes to the act could be approved as early as the fall sitting, said Dixon.