Planning council criticizes territory’s Peel plans

The Yukon Land Use Planning Council is raising concerns about the Yukon government's handling of the Peel watershed plan.

The Yukon Land Use Planning Council is raising concerns about the Yukon government’s handling of the Peel watershed plan.

“(The Yukon government) did not communicate their thoughts clearly until the eleventh hour, when they introduced … their own vision, which any one of the parties might do, but to do it at the eleventh hour undermines the integrity of the planning process,” said planning council chair Ian D. Robertson.

At a meeting on Friday, Robertson met with planning council director Ron Cruikshank and the Yukon Council of First Nation’s representative, Shirlee Frost. Emile Stehelin, the Yukon government’s representative, was conspicuous by his absence.

According to Cruikshank, the planning process under the Umbrella Final Agreement is supposed to flow from an original recommended plan through consultation with affected communities to the final recommended plan. From there, more consultation is required with affected stakeholders, any of whom can approve, reject or suggest modifications to the plan.

The government, Cruikshank said, has interjected its own modifications into the process before the final round of consultation, disrupting the model and breaching the UFA.

“Modifications should only come after consultation with communities and be based on the feedback from that consultation. It’s definitely outside the UFA. It’s an appendage, but is it valid?” Cruikshank asked.

The government’s changes are more in line with the early scenario stage in the process – completed years ago – where a number of options are presented before moving forward with the first recommended plan, said Robertson. It also removed any mention of the fact that, during the consultation process, stakeholders have the power to simply approve the Peel commission’s recommended plan.

Now the government is refusing to acknowledge the validity of anything but its own proposed changes, changes that don’t even fit within the regular planning process, said Robertson.

It’s also unclear who developed the government’s new proposals, said Frost.

The government’s actions could seriously damage the credibility of the whole land-use planning system, Robertson said.

“If the public believes you can always go through the back door, that destroys the value of a transparent front-end planning process,” said Robertson.

There is conflicting wording in the government’s plans themselves as well, Cruikshank said.

“Wilderness” has no definition under the government’s changed plans. Government land use plans from 1999 have defined “wilderness” as starting a set distance from human development footprints, and it also can’t contain roads.

The current government’s plans allow roads to be built along the Peel’s narrow river valleys, but it isn’t clear whether those areas would still be defined as “wilderness.”

The whole controversy is at odds with the planning council’s raison d’être, said Robertson.

“Our goal is that all the regional land use plans should fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The Government of the Yukon’s responsibility to all Yukon citizens is to provide a clear vision and territory-wide policies to facilitate an overall vision for the Yukon, which respects the economy, the environment and culture. That policy framework is critical to ensuring that each of the regional plans fits together like a hand within a glove,” said Robertson.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

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

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read