Whitehorse is looking to ban mineral staking within city limits.
Mayor Bev Buckway confirmed talks were happening between municipal and territorial officials at the Association of Yukon Communities meeting, held in Dawson City earlier this month.
She wasn’t sure how close they are to completing a deal, but Buckway was sure to mention that it was a different scenario than in Dawson City.
“It’s not a placer mining industry, it’s quartz claims,” she said. “But it’s surprising how much is already staked.”
And the claims that are staked can’t be taken away, Buckway added.
She listed Wolf Creek and the Copper Haul area as main hubs of mining-residential controversy in Whitehorse.
“People have a sense that the equipment might roll in and people are going to be drilling right underneath your bedroom window,” she said. “But it’s been productive discussions.”
The eastern side of the Yukon River, by the hospital, is almost void of any mineral staking, Buckway added.
A ban would only affect new staking, she said.
Dawson City banned staking within its municipal boundaries back in 2003.
But that hasn’t stopped controversy between placer miners and residents in the Klondike town. Miners still have rights to work claims already staked.
Such is the case with the contentious Slinky Mine on Dawson’s Dome Road. Darrell Carey has held 19 claims along the residential road since 1998 and 1999.
Two years ago, the town lost authority over the mine when Carey passed through the territory’s assessment process.
But Dawson does have a say over the road, which Carey wants to dig up during his search for gold. The town has accused Carey of trespassing. The case is before Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale.
More controversy came up again this year with another placer miner, Mike Heisey. Since 1980, he’s held two claims that straddle the Klondike River in the residential Dredge Pond subdivision.
After a flurry of opposition during the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board’s review of Heisey’s new proposals for the Klondike Valley claims, the miner asked the territory to swap the claims for land title. Those talks are ongoing.
At the communities’ meeting, Opposition Leader Liz Hanson called for a territory-wide ban for all municipal staking.
At the same meeting later that day, Premier Darrell Pasloski reaffirmed his support for Yukon’s free-entry staking system.
But the government is willing to speak with any municipality that wants a staking ban within its boundaries, said Buckway.
Municipal councils must receive territorial approval for any staking ban. This restriction is one of many reasons why local officials want an overhaul of the Municipal Act.
Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor announced at the Dawson meeting that a review would begin this summer.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org