The Ross River staking ban has been extended for another two years.
Unless the Yukon government and the Ross River Dena Council can come to an agreement, no staking will occur in a large swath of eastern Yukon through Jan. 31, 2017.
The Yukon Court of Appeal ruled in Dec. 2012 that the Yukon government must consult the Ross River Dena Council before allowing staking on its traditional territory.
Since then, the government has tried to reach an agreement on which parts of that land should be open for mineral staking.
But so far there’s little to show for that work.
A full staking ban in the area has been in place since Dec. 2013, which was the deadline to comply with the court order.
Talks with the First Nation are going well, said Michael Hale, assistant deputy minister for aboriginal relations, in an interview this morning.
“We are having more regular meetings and more positive meetings on this file than we have in a long time. That certainly doesn’t guarantee an outcome, but it tells us that it’s worth investing our time.”
The two-year extension will give some space for that work to continue, he said.
“We don’t want this to be something that’s hanging over people’s heads. We want to be able to work towards some sort of outcome.”
The ban could be lifted before the 2017 deadline if the parties can reach an agreement, said Hale.
“Our hope is that before two years we’re able to get somewhere with Ross River. But it’s hard to predict the future, so we’ve given ourselves enough time to make an arrangement.”
The Ross River Dena Council could not be reached for comment by press time.