A New Democratic government will bolster environmental monitoring, leader Liz Hanson said Tuesday.
To start, it will be the first in the country to answer calls for a water strategy, she said.
The strategy will include things from gathering information on the territory’s water – of which there is currently very little – to policies on water contamination, shortages and bulk-water exports.
“For too long, monitoring of land and water has been under resourced,” she said. “An inadequate enforcement regime has created the potential for a legacy of environmental hazards.”
But there would be no need to put more money towards it; everything that needs to be done could be paid for from within the existing territorial budget, she said.
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During the announcement, John Carney, Porter Creek South candidate and former president of the Fish and Game Association, noted the Liberals criticized the Yukon Territorial Water Board for denying the Carmacks Copper project a licence for the proposed heap-leach mine.
“The Yukon Liberals never criticized or opposed the decision of the water board to refuse to issue a water licence to the Carmacks Copper mine,” said leader Arthur Mitchell. “The water board’s a quasi-judicial body and it has the right and responsibility to protect Yukon’s fresh water and fisheries through its licensing powers and the courts upheld that independent authority and we respected that as the right decision.
“What we are saying is that we need to create a clearer regulatory system that includes YESAB and the water board, that will provide mining companies with a clearer path towards permitting where these kinds of surprises and differences between the two processes are minimized.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the mining industry right now over that 2010 Carmacks Copper decision. Liz probably doesn’t know that because she doesn’t talk to mining companies, she just dreams up ways to increase their taxes.”
The Yukon Party also weighed in to the water issue this week.
While it didn’t discuss water monitoring, water and the mining industry or the protection of water resources for future generations, it did say it will increase groundwater data collection and information sharing and that it will continue to improve access to safe drinking water for all.