Public input supports Peel protection

The Yukon government asked the public what it should do with plans to protect the Peel Watershed last summer, but, as far as conservationists can tell, the territory has never done anything with this information.

The Yukon government asked the public what it should do with plans to protect the Peel Watershed last summer, but, as far as conservationists can tell, the territory has never done anything with this information.

So three conservation-minded groups hired DataPath Systems, a Marsh Lake-based polling firm, to crunch the data for them.

The results show a majority of respondents support protecting most or all of the Peel – a vast, 77,000 square kilometre, Scotland-sized swath of land in northeast Yukon.

It’s “telling” that the government hasn’t said anything about these public consultations, said Gill Cracknell with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, in a release. “Perhaps they prefer to ignore input that does not agree with their desire for roads and industrial development in the Peel.”

Four in five Yukoners who commented at public meetings or online supported protecting at least 80 per cent of the Peel, as proposed by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission. But the territory has indicated it doesn’t support this plan because it isn’t friendly enough to miners.

“People went to a lot of trouble to attend meetings and speak out, and provide written comments,” said Blaine Walden, vice-president of the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon. “To our knowledge, the Yukon government has not analyzed what the public said – and without that analysis it is pretty pointless to hold consultations. So we decided to have the numbers examined by a reputable, independent data analysis firm.”

“We hope that government is not just paying lip service to the requirement in the final agreements to consult as part of the land-use planning process,” said Karen Baltgailis with the Yukon Conservation Society.

“What is the point of ‘consulting’ if they don’t listen to what Yukoners are saying?”