Hikers rest at Mount MacDonald, near the Snake River in the Peel Watershed. The Yukon government says the final step for coming up with a completed land use plan for the watershed is expected to take about a year. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Yukon government preps for round of consultations on Peel watershed

Supreme Court of Canada forbid major changes to the planning commission’s final recommended plan

The Yukon government says the last step before coming up with a final land use plan for the Peel River watershed is expected to take about a year.

That would mark the end of a process that dates back to 2004 and was contentious enough to end up in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and the ministers of environment and energy, mines and resources met with chiefs from the the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin, and Nacho Nyak Dun First Nations as well as vice president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council this week.

On Jan. 30, Jesse Devost, spokesperson for the Department of Energy Mines and Resources, said all sides confirmed their support of the Peel planning commission’s final recommended plan.

At the meeting, the leaders decided to create a committee that will be responsible for coming up with a plan for one last round of consultations.

“Once the consultation is complete those parties will get together and work together on approving a final plan,” Devost said.

The process is estimated to take about a year, he said.

Late last year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the former Yukon government overstepped when it released a plan for the Peel watershed in 2014 that was radically different from the recommended plan produced after the Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s years of work.

The Yukon Party government’s plan would have meant 71 per cent of the Peel watershed was open for mineral exploration with 29 per cent protected. That’s compared to 80 per cent protected and 20 per cent open for mineral exploration under the commission’s final recommended plan.

The First Nations and environmental groups took the government to court.

After years of legal battles, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled all sides had to go back to consult on the commission’s final recommended plan again. The Yukon government has the authority to make minor modifications to the plan but can’t change the plan “so significantly as to effectively reject it.”

The Liberals have promised to accept the final report of the original Peel planning commission. Silver has previously said ideas for any minor tweaks would not come from the territorial government.

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph said the court made it clear that substantive changes would not be allowed.

“We would be waiting for the plan to go through the consultation process and see what sort of recommendations are made by citizens and the public to take that into consideration,” she said.

There’s no details yet on when the consultations will start, Devost said.

“We’re really pleased that we’re finally at this stage where we’re starting to move forward and that we’re really happy that Yukon government is working with the First Nations on this and we look forward to this process being completed,” Joseph said.

A celebration of the Supreme Court of Canada victory is happening Feb. 2 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre from 4:30 pm to 11 pm. The evening will include speeches, a fire lighting, a water ceremony and story sharing circle as well as dinner, live music and dancing.

With files from Jackie Hong

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Peel watershedSupreme CourtTr’ondëk Hwëch’in First NationYukon government

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Yukon News file
A 21-year-old man is in custody after a stabbing in Porter Creek on May 14.
One man in hospital, another in custody, after alleged stabbing in Porter Creek

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was later arrested in a wooded area.

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Most Read