Peeling away the misinformation

Krysta Meekins's article "Peel away the hypocrisy" (Nov. 16) criticizes the Peel planning process as being polarized and divisive, yet articles such as hers spread misinformation about the process, potentially causing polarization and divisiveness.

COMMENTARY

by Mike Tribes

Krysta Meekins’s article “Peel away the hypocrisy” (Nov. 16) criticizes the Peel planning process as being polarized and divisive, yet articles such as hers spread misinformation about the process, potentially causing polarization and divisiveness.

She obviously has strong opinions on the subject, as do many people, but I want to focus on the facts of the situation, which are grossly misrepresented in this article. Maybe by having everyone understand the truth, we can be less polarized, and divisive, and understand where the middle ground really is.

Ms. Meekins states that the Yukon Party made it clear that it did not support the final recommended plan during the election, and the Yukon voted on the issue, and elected the Yukon Party to a majority government. While it is true that we voted in a majority Yukon government, I have two points to correct:

* During the election, the premier repeatedly asserted that it would be irresponsible of the Yukon Party to state their opinion on the Peel, and in fact, did not take a public position on the Peel, because the final public consultation had not yet happened. (And it would have been difficult for the Yukon Party to make a public commitment on protecting the Peel when over $100,000 of their $160,000 campaign was funded by mining companies, and mining support services).

* If the election was truly about the Peel, 60 per cent of the voters voted for parties that publicly stated they would protect the Peel, which is indeed a strong majority.

The so-called radical environmentalists who support the final recommended plan are not a small minority fringe element of society, but represent all walks of life, and are taking time out of their busy days to protest and make their voice heard because a majority of the people (60 per cent, remember, from the last election) feel frustrated that a government that represents a minority of the population is ignoring a transparent and democratic process that was followed in the Peel planning process.

The Peel planning process was open and transparent. Everyone, including the Yukon government, mining proponents, oil and gas proponents, outfitters, radical environmentalists, and First Nations had their opportunity to speak up, submit written comments and supply alternative scenarios.

As to the mandate of the Peel planning commission, being “only an appointed body:” Their mandate was determined by the Umbrella Final Agreement, Chapter 11, which was negotiated with and signed by the Yukon government. Of the six planning members, two were appointed by the Yukon government, and two more were joint appointments between the Yukon government and affected First Nation governments.

Ms. Meekins is suggesting that we want to render 67,400 square kilometres untouchable to future generations. A couple of points here:

* The Faro Mine is one example that has rendered a large land mass untouchable to future generations due to toxic water, lead dust in the wind and contaminated ground, not to mention a dangerously large hole in the ground. Protecting the Peel actually leaves the area open to future generations.

* The final Peel plan recommends 80 per cent protection, which is 55 per cent permanent protection and 25 per cent interim protection that is to be regularly reviewed. To put this in a broader perspective, the Peel represents 14 per cent of the Yukon, so this permanent protection represents eight per cent of the Yukon and is remote and difficult to access.

* The government’s revised plans have created a “restricted use wilderness area” designation. It allows for the same development levels as “integrated management area, zone II.” So the newly proposed plans protect anywhere from 10 per cent (Concept A) to 34 per cent (Concept C) of the area, and don’t even do that well, because the “protected” areas will still have existing claims honoured as well as allow road access to claims. And the new plans allow for approximately 15,000 km of roads or other cutlines in the area (approximately twice the length of the Trans Canada Highway).

* About 50 per cent of the people employed in the mining industry in the Yukon are Yukoners. So theoretically, we could have 50 per cent fewer mines and still employ the same number of Yukoners. This suggests to me that we don’t need more mining to provide jobs to Yukoners.

As a final note, here is an interesting perspective on protected areas:

* Yukon is 482,000 sq. km with 34,000 people.

* Germany is 357,000 sq. km with 82 million people and 96,000 sq. km of protected areas (27 per cent).

* Ecuador is 275,000 sq. km with 15 million people and 118,000 sq. km protected (43 per cent).

* New Zealand is 268,000 sq. km, 4.5 million people and 61,000 sq. km protected (27 per cent).

*Cambodia is 181,000 sq. km, 15 million people and 29,300 sq. km protected (16 per cent).

Other countries don’t seem to have issues with protecting their natural areas.

I do agree with Ms. Meekins on one point. I encourage all Yukoners to engage in the final Peel consultation. Attend next week’s consultations at the Gold Rush Inn and visit www.peelconsultation.ca.

Mike Tribes is a Whitehorse resident, business owner, part-time university student and “radical environmentalist.”

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

Just Posted

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Premier Sandy Silver during a live update on the COVID-19 situation at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Total Yukon COVID case count increased to 42 cases

Premier urges patience after national meeting on vaccine roll-out

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read