Peel documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada

The environmental groups and First Nations fighting with the Yukon government over the Peel watershed have officially asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear their case.

The environmental groups and First Nations fighting with the Yukon government over the Peel watershed have officially asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear their case.

The Peel case, and the way Yukon’s umbrella final agreement is interpreted, will impact all of Canada’s First Nations that have modern treaties, they argue.

“If allowed to stand, the reasoning of the Court of Appeal will inevitably undermine the careful balance between the respective roles in future decision-making of non-Aboriginal governments and Aboriginal peoples that has been so assiduously negotiated and set out not only in the Yukon modern treaties, but in similar modem treaties across Canada,” the document says.

The Supreme Court of Canada judges only hear about 10 per cent of the cases that are sent its way, so lawyers have to prove a case is worth their time.

In the Peel case, both the Yukon Supreme Court and the Yukon Court of Appeal agreed that the Yukon broke the rules when it tried to create its own plan for the giant swath of mostly untouched Yukon land.

While the Peel land use planning commission had recommended 80 per cent protection, the government’s plan was for 29 per cent. The government’s plan was thrown out by both courts.

To fix the mistake, the Yukon Supreme Court said the government could go back and try again to modify the recommended plan. But the judge said the government couldn’t alter balance between protection and development, or allow building new roads or other surface access into the area.

The judge said the government didn’t provide enough detail about the changes it wanted earlier in the process, so those points were off the table.

The Court of Appeal arrived at a different conclusion, saying the government could make any changes it wanted so long as it properly consulted with everyone and provided a more detailed explanation of their plans.

The Yukon government has always maintained that it needs to have final say in the management of public lands.

But the First Nations and environmental groups say that giving the government this much of a do-over is taking things too far.

While most of the Peel case centres around treaty interpretation, Thomas Berger, the aboriginal law pioneer going against the Yukon government, touches on the Peel’s environmental value as being nationally significant.

“The Peel watershed is a national treasure in the custodianship of the government of Yukon and First Nations. The future of the Peel Watershed is a matter of importance not only to Yukoners but to all Canadians.”

The Yukon government will have 30 days to respond to the application for leave to appeal. After that, the other side gets 10 days to respond to any of the government’s arguments.

It will be months before anyone gets a yes or no answer from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Meanwhile, more legal wrangling means more costs.

The Yukon Department of Justice says it spent $232,496 on Outside lawyers for the Yukon appeal alone.

That brings the total spent in the whole thing so far to $285,767.

The First Nations and environmental groups have refused to say how much money they’ve spent so far.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read