Friends of McIntyre Creek asked Whitehorse City Council on Jan. 21 to consider working with the Yukon government and First Nations to designate the area around McIntyre Creek a territorial park.
A delegation spoke to council during the standing committees meeting. Michael Bendall said there has been a decrease in the diversity of the area, which is home to bears, caribou, lynx, ermine, otters, pine martens and foxes.
“McIntyre Creek is an area highly valued by citizens within Porter Creek and Takhini subdivisions, Yukon College and the greater Whitehorse area. It boasts the largest wetland in Whitehorse, supporting the largest assortment of birds and wildlife,” he said, adding it’s an important wildlife corridor, and one of few places where Chinook salmon come to spawn.
He said Friends of McIntyre Creek would like to see 36 square kilometres protected, from the McIntyre Creek wetlands, to the headwaters at the Yukon River, including the proposed Porter Creek D development.
Roughly 80 per cent of the land in the middle of this area is under moratorium for development at the moment.
Bendall said this kind of conservation effort would be in line with the city’s goals, stated in the 2040 Official Community Plan, of growing in harmony with natural surroundings.
Bendall was joined at council by Dorothy Bradley, Celeste Sundquist-Bendall and James Wescott.
The group said it has letters of support from the Porter Creek Community Association as well as WildWise Yukon. They said they are waiting on letters of support from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.
Wescott said financial support for the designation could come from the Canada Nature Fund.
A $500 million fund announced in 2018, it aims to establish new protected areas of conservation by working with provinces, territories, private landowners, and First Nations.
“We urge you to continue to prioritize conservation values over recreation and economic development objectives,” said Wescott. “Finding the right balance between conservation and development must be achieved using the best available science to ensure appropriate stewardship of our fresh water and wildlife habitats in this important region while maintaining accessibility for city residents, present and future.”
Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu asked if the group had made the same presentation to the Yukon government.
The group has not made a formal presentation at this point, but has spoken to various MLAs and received direction to speak with the First Nations, and proceed from there.
This isn’t the first time Friends of McIntyre Creek have pushed for designation for the area.
In 2009, access roads near Raven’s Ridge, as well as a plan for Whistle Bend access roads (which would pass through the wetlands) got reactions from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation Elders Council, liberal MLA Don Inverarity, the Yukon Orienteering Association, the Klondike Snowmobile Association and the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Elaine Taylor, then-environment minister, said she was supportive of the idea, but said the responsibility of granting park status was with the city.
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