McLean Lake residents oppose gravel quarry plans

The window for comment submissions to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board on a proposed new quarry closed yesterday.

The window for comment submissions to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board on a proposed new quarry closed yesterday, but not before several local individuals and organizations raised concerns about the project.

The potential project, put forward by Ron Newsome of Territorial Contracting Ltd., would see a new quarry created at Sleeping Giant Hill, just off McLean Lake Rd. The quarry would provide aggregate, sand and gravel for Newsome’s planned concrete batch plant nearby. The batch plant was the subject of years of public wrangling and legal back-and-forth before receiving a final approval in 2012.

Skeeter Wright, commenting on behalf of the McLean Lake Residents’ Association, focused his concerns on McLean Lake’s inflow, water temperature, and possible damage to the lake’s rainbow trout population.

He noted that a previous City of Whitehorse official community plan required that hydrological and hydrogeological studies be completed before any gravel excavation could take place in the McLean Lake area. After a Yukon Supreme Court decision found that the city had failed to adhere to that requirement, Wright wrote, it was removed in a subsequent version of the plan. In the absence of completed studies, the residents’ association is opposed to the project.

Writing on behalf of the Yukon Conservation Society, mining co-ordinator Lewis Rifkind raised concerns about dust, noise, and groundwater contamination, among other issues. “The negative implications (water contamination, impacts on fish and fowl, change in water levels and associated impacts on flora) for McLean Lake, the drainage system and stream leading to Ear Lake, the Logan-Arkell wetlands and possibly the McIntyre Creek drainage system could be severe,” wrote Rifkind.

He also questioned the project’s proposed closure and relocation of an existing trail leading to McLean Lake from the road, and noted that the lake and surrounding area form part of a newly created city park. The society is seeking assurances that the project does not overlap with the park area, and that there is an appropriate buffer between them, he wrote.

The conservation society is not opposing the project outright at this stage, Rifkind clarified. But the society would like to see more detailed information addressing its concerns.

Mark Daniels, the president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association, offered a similarly nuanced submission. Daniels noted the importance of the existing trail to recreational users, and outlined several requests for its relocation. “The KSA is happy to work with the proponent and authorities having jurisdiction regarding trail alignment, design specifications, and signage,” he wrote.

A submission from the northern conservation section of Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service noted that the olive-sided flycatcher and the common nighthawk, both listed as “threatened” under the Species at Risk Act, are present in the project area. The rusty blackbird, listed as a species of special concern, can also be found there.

“The proposed project has the potential to impact migratory birds, species at risk and their habitats,” wrote Sherri Clifford for Environment Canada.

The assessment board now has the option to either request more information from the proponent, in response to concerns raised by the public, or to proceed with preparing a recommendation. Project proponent Ron Newsome did not respond to the News’ requests for comment.

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read