Patrick Rouble, former Yukon Party minister for Energy, Mines and Resources, is the newest member of the Yukon Land Use Planning Council.
He was appointed by the federal government in September, and made chair last month by the council’s other two members.
Interim Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says the appointment is ill-advised, given Rouble’s documented opposition to the Peel planning commission’s recommended plan for the watershed.
“Mr. Rouble’s influence is one of the reasons we are in the mess in the Peel in the first place and I therefore cannot support this appointment,” wrote Silver in an open letter. “I would urge the government of Yukon to ask their federal colleagues to rescind the appointment.”
Affected First Nations as well as Liberal and NDP parties have rallied in support of the planning commission’s final recommended plan, released in 2011, which would see 80 per cent of the watershed withdrawn from development, including roads.
But the Yukon Party government is intent on changing the plan so that development is not ruled out, but rather actively managed on a case-by-case basis. New concepts released last year would see between 23 and 42 per cent of the watershed withdrawn from staking. Road access would not be ruled out anywhere in the watershed.
As a result of this disagreement, the plan is currently in limbo.
The government is in its final consultation with affected First Nations, with little progress to report. Those consultations were originally scheduled to end in March of this year. Now, the government won’t say when those talks will wrap up, and the staking ban for the area is set to expire at the end of this month.
Rouble believes the government is doing their best to come up with an appropriate plan for the Peel, he said in an interview last week.
“I know, probably better than most folks, how challenging and difficult it can be, making those decisions. But I have faith in them, that based on the information that they have and all of the good work being done, that they’re making the best decisions that they believe possible.”
The council’s former chair, Ian Robertson, wrote a letter criticizing the government’s handling of the Peel plan before he left the office.
“The council believes that the regional land use planning program is in trouble,” wrote Robertson in April.
“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.”
Rouble said he looks forward to meeting with Robertson and discussing his ideas and concerns.
The land use planning council’s role is primarily one of administration and co-ordination, he said.
His background in business administration and experience working with First Nations make him well-suited for the role, said Rouble.
Several First Nation chiefs have recently spoken out about the lack of progress on land use planning in the territory, first mandated by the Umbrella Final Agreement in 1990.
Only the North Yukon region has a finalized land use plan to date.
Rouble said he is hopeful that the process will be improved and progress will be made.
“I’m eternally optimistic about this. That’s the reason why I got involved in community leadership in my community, and that’s the reason I got involved in this board. It’s a very important issue for the territory, it’s one of those things where I think everyone will agree that this all would have been better if it had been done 20 years ago. I don’t want to be sitting in a chair similar to this 20 years from now saying, ‘Boy, I wish they had done that 20 years ago.’”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at