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.
Energy, Mines and Resources Spokesperson Sue Thomas confirmed in a March 1 email the territory is looking at potential solutions for all claimholders impacted by changes in land designation, though she also confirmed that miners are subject to local bylaws and plans.
“All land use activities within community boundaries are subject to mining laws, local zoning regulations, official community plans, local area plans and all other applicable regulatory requirements,” she stated in the email.
“We are continuing to work on solutions for all claimholders in the Dawson area.”
The most recent issue involved Lucas Hawkes.
In a March 1 interview, Hawkes said when he applied for a permit through the territory to work his father’s claims in Dawson, he was told he would need a development permit from the town. He soon learned he couldn’t get the development permit without relinquishing his rights to the claim once he was done mining.
The clause comes out of changes that were made to Dawson’s Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw in 2019, which designated Hawkes’ property as future planning.
While Hawkes argues the town is attacking miners to get their claims, the town’s mayor Wayne Potoroka argues the town is working to ensure there’s certainty for the community and has a provided a 10-year window for Hawkes to complete his mining work.
“We just want certainty for the land in our boundaries,” he said in a March 2 interview, outlining the process the town went through to ensure there was public input into the OCP process that designated the land as future planning.
The town sent out all required public notices for input sessions, consultations and so on, Potoroka said, noting there was no issues expressed over the claims being designated as future planning.
He pointed out that while claim holders have subsurface rights, they don’t own the land. In this case, Potoroka explained the Yukon government owns the land.
Hawkes said he has tried to come up with a compromise that would benefit all, but to no avail.
As Potoroka explained, while the city has jurisdiction to designate the land use through the OCP and zoning bylaw, it is titled to the Yukon government. Any discussion on the title of the property would be between the miner and landowner, Potoroka said.
In moving towards the future planning designation, Potoroka highlighted the community’s need for more housing and noted this could be one of a few areas that may be suitable for development.
“We are a growing community,” he said.
The 10-year window provides time for the town to look at the possibility while also giving Hawks time to mine.
Had the space been designated as parks or green space, mining would not be able to happen, Potoroka pointed out, again highlighting the 10-year timeline for mining to happen.
He said he’s hopeful that a resolution can be found as efforts continue with the Yukon government.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org