Territory redraws oil and gas map

The Yukon's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources has shrunk two parcels of land being considered for oil and gas exploration. Both parcels overlapped with settlement land of the Carcross /Tagish First Nation.

The Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources has shrunk two parcels of land being considered for oil and gas exploration.

Both parcels overlapped with settlement land of the Carcross /Tagish First Nation. The territorial government didn’t intend to include municipal, private or First Nation land in any of the 12 parcels up for consideration in the Whitehorse Basin, which stretches from Carcross to Carmacks.

But some settlement land near Tagish ended up being included by mistake.

“Once the error was pointed out, we immediately fixed it,” said Debra Wortley, manager of rights and royalties.

The original maps included a big chunk of Class-A settlement land to the west of Marsh Lake and a smaller piece of Class-B settlement land east of Tagish Lake.

The government is gathering public comments over the next two months about allowing oil and gas development in the area. For now, the company or companies that requested the postings remain a secret.

The Yukon Party government has been bullish about the possibility of tapping natural gas in the territory to help boost the territory’s rapidly depleting supply of electricity as more mines come online.

The Yukon Conservation Society has come out swinging against the oil and gas dispositions, warning that the industry could turn southern Yukon into an industrial wasteland, like what’s found in parts of northern B.C. and Alberta.

The map mixup doesn’t boost confidence in the territory’s ability to regulate the industry, said the society’s Lewis Rifkind.

“How accurate is the rest of the mapping?” he asked.

And the redrawn maps aren’t the only blooper to be noticed. Three different deadlines have been offered for public comments.

The initial news release put it at March 31. A later newspaper advertisement gave March 30. And, 60 days from the date of announcement is April 2.

The correct date is March 30, said Wortley.

“We usually just say the end of the month. But the last working day is March 30,” she said. “We try to get as close to 60 days as we possibly can.”

Community meetings are being planned on the oil and gas dispositions. One is scheduled at the Tagish community centre on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. Other meetings are in the works for Whitehorse, Lake Laberge and Carmacks.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com

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