Tourism operators bash Cathers’ Peel plan

The Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon has joined the chorus condemning the government’s plans to open much of the Peel watershed to development.

The Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon has joined the chorus condemning the government’s plans to open much of the Peel watershed to development.

“To find out that the Yukon government is changing the principles at this late stage is unprecedented and a slap in the face to a public process that is mandated under the Umbrella Final Agreement,” said the association’s Christoph Altherr in a release.

“The government has also clearly ignored the wilderness tourism industry and has chosen mining as the best use of the land,” he said. “The Peel watershed is a globally significant region and critical to the future of our industry.”

Similar concerns have been expressed by conservationists, First Nations, hunting outfitters, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, both opposition parties and members of the Peel’s planning commission.

Last week, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers announced the territory would not support protection of four-fifths of the watershed.

The government has received widespread criticism for only stating this position now, rather than during the territorial election.

At that time, Premier Darrell Pasloski said taking a stance would be “irresponsible” without holding further public consultations. Yet no such consultations have been held since then.

Cathers has also balked at banning roads, as the plan proposes.

“To say that roads, airstrips and industrial development can take place in the watershed and not drastically impact the integrity of the region is absolutely ridiculous,” said Altherr.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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