Land use planning in Dawson suspended

While the Peel land use plan is getting most of the attention these days, governments involved with a similar plan for the Dawson region have suspended their work.

While the Peel land use plan is getting most of the attention these days, governments involved with a similar plan for the Dawson region have suspended their work.

The announcement was made Monday, the day before a Yukon Supreme Court judge struck down the Yukon government’s plan for the Peel watershed.

The Yukon government, Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation all agreed to suspend the Dawson regional land use planning process, according to a statement released by the territory.

“We all agree that there is no point going further down the process when that very process is the subject of litigation,” Environment Minister Currie Dixon said Monday, before the Peel decision was released.

There are some big differences between the two plans. While much of the Peel remains undeveloped, the Klondike has a long history of mining.

“However, what is the same, in both the Peel land-use planning process and the Dawson land-use planning process, they’re both subject to Chapter 11, they’re both following the same process,” Dixon said. He said they are waiting for the “clarity” they hope to get from the Peel decision.

Chapter 11 of Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement lays out the rules around land use planning.

In the Peel decision, Justice Ron Veale sided with First Nations and ruled the Yukon government strayed too far from the process when it introduced its own land use plan at a late stage.

No draft plan has been developed yet for the Dawson region, Dixon said.

Dixon was reluctant to say when the Dawson process could start back up again once the Peel decision was made.

“Obviously we’ll need time to review whatever Justice Veale puts out by way of decision. That review’s going to take some time, but then there’s always the possibility that any decision Justice Veale makes may be appealed,” Dixon said.

The Dawson commission formed in 2010. Since then it has worked to collect detailed information about what exists in the region and how people would like to see it used.

All that information is being archived and preserved, Dixon said, so it will be available when the process starts up again.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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