The capital is ignoring the needs of the Yukon mining industry, said Mike Kokiw, the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.
It’s a situation that has both the chamber and its members “extremely concerned,” he said.
The industry supported the recently passed ban on staking in the city, but expected to see access rights affirmed for existing mining claims.
That hasn’t happened, said Kokiw.
As it stands, unless the land where a claim sits is zoned for industrial use or future planning, the owner of that claim has to get an amendment to both the zoning bylaw and the Official Community Plan to do any work.
“It’s a very cumbersome process,” said Kokiw.
With the latest update of the OCP designating more than half the land in the city as greenbelt or environmentally protected, it’s a problem that’s only going to get worse, he said.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines was in talks with the territory and the city about developing a process that would satisfy the needs of both industry and government.
It wanted to see some kind of permitting process developed, similar to existing development permits. But, when the city finalized it’s Zoning Bylaw rewrite last month, none of the chamber’s recommendations made the cut.
Kokiw made a presentation to city council last week to reintegrate his concerns, but the response he got was disappointing, he said.
“Claim holders have their rights but they do, as far as the Municipal Act is concerned, fall under the general rules of the municipality,” said Robert Fendrick, manager of administrative services.
There is also the territory’s Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act to consider, he added.
“It’s really not in discussion, it’s a matter of being tested in court,” said Fendrick.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, said Kokiw.
Having a clear and transparent process would forestall costly legal battles, he said.
Whitehorse was built on mining, said Kokiw, But if it does end up in court, the city’s lack of process could be considered a form of expropriation, he warned.
Contact Josh Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org