Planning council blasts government on Peel

The government’s recent actions on the Peel have jeopardized land use planning across the territory, according to the Yukon Land Use Planning Council. “The council believes that the regional land use planning program is in trouble.”

The government’s recent actions on the Peel have jeopardized land use planning across the territory, according to the Yukon Land Use Planning Council.

“The council believes that the regional land use planning program is in trouble,” according to an April 7 letter signed by Ian Robertson, the council’s chair. The letter was addressed to Brad Cathers, minister of resources, as well as the chiefs of the four First Nations involved with the Peel plan.

“A number of negative precedents may have been set that undermine the trust and public confidence required to sustain an effective land use planning program.”

The recently released What We Heard report reaffirms “the extent of the polarization and disconnect” between the views of Yukoners, according to the letter.

“The consultation report clearly demonstrates a public perception that the government of Yukon did not follow either the spirit or intent of the rules established in Chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement and hijacked the process. Whether that is true or not is largely irrelevant at the point.”

The effect of this “lightning rod for division” has spilled over into other land use planning processes, and undermines the government’s ability to promote the Yukon to industry as a good place for investment, the letter states.

The council raised four specific concerns with the government’s handling of the Peel plan process.

First, the process for approving the land use plan did not follow what was agreed to in a letter of understanding signed by Yukon and First Nation governments in January, 2011.

The parties agreed to a “process, timeline and approach to consultation,” but these tenets were not followed.

The lack of commitment to the letter of understanding “has resulted in the reduction of trust between the parties, hampering future communication and harming relations,” the letter states. “It is now unlikely that there will be other such ‘handshake’ agreements, and more formal, costly and time-consuming legal agreements can be expected.”

Second, the council raised concerns with the government’s decision to release a set of “planning principles” at a late stage in the process, and without input from First Nations or the council.

Land use planning commissions are charged with producing an “approvable” plan, but in order to do so parties must be clear on their expectations.

The letter noted five earlier points in the process where the government could have identified its planning principles.

“As principles are foundational statements used to base a plan or planning process upon, having these come out that the end of the process jeopardizes any work done prior to their release,” according to the council.

Third, the council blasted the government for introducing proposed modifications to the plan that were “cobbled together with little supporting evidence as to their validity.”

Any proposed changes should have been based on consultation with the public and First Nation governments, and not the other way around, according to the letter.

“The rationale behind the concepts and legitimacy of the proposed new land use categories struck many as illogical, vague and even naive. This is unfortunate because it meant that the ideas themselves did not end up getting fair consideration.”

Finally, the council said that the government’s new proposed land use designations are confusing and out of step with existing land use designations.

“The use of the word ‘wilderness’ as part of the title of an area where development is allowed (roads, mines, etc.) is misleading,” the letter states.

A 1999 government report defined wilderness as existing beyond a set distance from roads and development, according to the council.

Furthermore, the government’s own planning principles indicate that there are areas in the Peel that deserve “the highest level of protection available.”

None of the areas in the government’s plans meet that standard, according to the letter.

“There is no designation in the new Peel concepts that would align with the highest level of protection envisioned internationally.”

The governments involved must exhibit courageous leadership and creativity to bring land use planning back on track and restore public confidence in the process, the letter concludes.

“The present situation is untenable for all.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

Most Read