The Yukon government has once again extended its staking ban in the Peel watershed.
According to an order in council signed Wednesday, the ban, which was supposed to end Jan. 1, 2016, has been bumped up another two years.
The move follows an announcement on Monday that First Nations and conservationists will try to take their challenge of the government’s plan for the region to the Supreme Court of Canada.
New staking has been banned in the 68,000 square kilometres of mostly untouched wilderness since 2010 in the midst of intense conflict over what to do with the land.
Last year a Yukon Supreme Court judge reprimanded the government for failing to live up to its obligations under Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement when it came up with a plan for the region that protected only 29 per cent from new mineral staking. The planning commission that spent years coming up with recommendations had suggested protecting 80 per cent.
This August, the Yukon Court of Appeal decided the government did mess things up, but it should get a chance to do them over again properly.
According to the most recent statistics, it takes about three months for the Supreme Court of Canada to decide whether it will hear a case. Provided the court says yes, it’s about another eight months before a hearing.
Meanwhile, work on the territory’s other land-use plans has come to a stand-still.
Last year the Yukon government, Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation all agreed to suspend the Dawson regional land use planning process, which began in 2010.
There was no point in proceeding while the process itself was the focus of a lawsuit, Yukon’s environment minister said at the time.
Within the Peel watershed region there are approximately 8,380 quartz claims in good standing right now, according to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
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