Mining at stake in government to government talks

Once again, the city and Yukon government are going to try and tackle the inner-city staking issue. After miners staked 85 claims on Whitehorse ski…

Once again, the city and Yukon government are going to try and tackle the inner-city staking issue.

After miners staked 85 claims on Whitehorse ski trails, Yukon government officials will sit down with city staff in February to talk about municipal claim staking, Greg Komaromi, assistant deputy minister of Energy Mines and Resources, told a news conference last week.

Yukon officials offered to discuss the issue with city staff several times in the last two years, but the discussions weren’t fruitful, he said.

“We made that offer to them some time ago and we are totally prepared to enter into that dialogue with the city and take some recommendations forward for cabinet to consider,” he said.

 “Those discussions have not gone as far as we might all have liked in the past few years.

“We’ve clearly said that we are prepared to engage in conversation with the city of Whitehorse about what we can do to protect various areas of the city from staking.”

Those discussions will include the free-entry system of staking claims, where miners can stake available Crown land.

They will also include existing regulations prohibiting certain land from being staked.

“There are prohibitions, there are conditions under which and around which claims can be staked and, as such, can be registered,” said Komaromi.

“It’s not as simple as just going out and staking where you want … there are some inherent protections in the legislation.”

Both governments have discussed the staking issue, said city manager Dennis Shewfelt on Monday.

Legal reviews have determined the city has the right to manage claims within its boundaries, he added.

“We sought a legal review both from the government and from our own legal firm,” he said.

“Basically, the activity could be managed through our own processes.”

The city’s Official Community Plan and zoning bylaws are driven by the Yukon Municipal Act — which, following devolution, has the same weight as the Yukon Quartz Mining Act, said Shewfelt.

The city is open to having areas within city limits taken off the mining table and will discuss that with the Yukon government in February, he said.

In 2005, the city made miner Wade Belcher move his trailer off claims he had staked on the side of the Mayo Road.

Belcher’s trailer had to be moved because he hadn’t obtained a city development permit.