Open the Peel to industrial development: Cathers

The Yukon government wants to allow industrial development in most of the Peel Watershed, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers announced Tuesday.

The Yukon government wants to allow industrial development in most of the Peel Watershed, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers announced Tuesday.

“We see that as taking a balanced approach that shifts the debate from whether to protect the Peel, to how to protect the Peel,” said Cathers.

“Yukoners value wilderness beauty and healthy ecosystems, but also want a diversified economy that provides employment for their friends, family and community.”

Key areas would receive full protection, either through the creation of a park or special management area. That likely includes the Turner Lake wetlands and

“the confluence” of the Snake, Bonnet Plume and Wind rivers, said Cathers.

But “the majority” of the 68,000-sq.-kilometre watershed in northeast Yukon, would be open to development, he said.

That’s a big change from the planning commission’s recommendations to protect four-fifths of the watershed.

Miners that hope to dig up iron, coal and uranium in the region will be pleased. Conservationists are furious.

“They aren’t looking to the future and they certainly don’t respect all sectors of the economy,” said Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the Yukon Conservation Society, in a release.

“How are wilderness tourism and outfitting businesses supposed to coexist with industrial development in the Peel?” Baltgailis said.

Cathers wants to see a land-use plan for the Peel that resembles the one crafted for northern Yukon.

There, half the region is protected, with the remaining half open to a sliding scale of development, with stricter safeguards required for sensitive areas.

Similarly, the government wants to see in the Peel “active management of the landscape rather than prohibitions to use and access,” according to eight principles announced on Tuesday.

Cabinet hasn’t yet decided what percentage of the Peel it would like to see protected, said Cathers.

More details will be released when the government holds a final round of community consultations on the Peel plan later this year. A schedule is to be hammered out soon with affected First Nations, he said.

The government hopes to have a Peel plan signed off by the fall, said Cathers. That’s when a mineral staking ban for the Peel expires.

For that to happen, the territory and affected First Nations will need to broker a compromise. First Nations initially called for the entire watershed to be protected, and later endorsed the proposed plan.

Miners should be allowed to keep claims in the Peel, said Cathers. And they should be allowed to build “reasonable” access roads, he said.

Roads had been ruled out in the proposed plan, for fear they would spoil the region’s pristine character. Miners howled with indignation at this, saying that such a scheme would be tantamount to expropriation.

The Peel plan should also be amendable by the government to allow “for additional conservation or development,” according to the government’s principles.

And it shouldn’t cost too much.

“Ultimately, the plan must be one that can be implemented within fiscally responsible means and human resources capacity,” it states.

The Yukon Party government has, until now, said very little about what it wants to see done in the Peel, other than it thought the commission’s plan went too far.

Cathers denied there was anything amiss with the territory announcing its position only now.

“It’s a different step in the process,” he said.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukon Employees’ Union says a lack of staff training and high turnover at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is creating a dangerous situation for underpaid workers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Employees’ Union says lack of training at emergency shelter leading to unsafe situations

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said the staffing policy “is evolving”

Justice Karen Wenckebach will begin serving as resident judge on the Yukon Supreme Court early next year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
All-female justice roster ‘a good step’ for diversity in Yukon Supreme Court

Karen Wenckebach is the third woman appointed to the Yukon Supreme Court in history

The Liberal government blocked a motion by Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers that would have asked the federal government to provide the territories with more than a per capita amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses during initial distribution. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Party says a per capita distribution of vaccines would leave Yukon short

The opposition is also asking the government to release their plan for vaccine distribution

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 4, 2020

Dawson City’s BHB Storage facility experienced a break-and-enter last month, according to Yukon RCMP. (File photo)
Storage lockers damaged, items stolen in Dawson City

BHB Storage facility victim to second Dawson City break-and-enter last month

A sign outside the Yukon Inn Convention Centre indicates Yukoners can get a flu vaccine inside. As of Dec. 4, the vaccinations won’t be available at the convention centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse Convention Centre ends flu vaccination service early

Flu vaccinations won’t be available at the Whitehorse Convention Centre after Dec.… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White River First Nation to run for councillors in the 2021 election. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News File)
White River First Nation to elect new chief and council

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White… Continue reading

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Most Read