Yukon may finally share position on Peel Watershed

The Yukon government is expected to release its position on the Peel Watershed land-use plan next Tuesday.

The Yukon government is expected to release its position on the Peel Watershed land-use plan next Tuesday.

Energy, Mines and Resources officials have agreed to meet with ranking members of four First Nation governments to share their opinion on the plan, said Eddie Taylor, chief of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation.

“At that time, we’ll all know our positions,” said Taylor.

“But of course, the First Nations’ one is already known.”

Since an arm’s-length commission recommended protecting 80 per cent of the watershed last December, the First Nations involved in the region have gone further and called for the whole thing to be protected from industrial activity.

The governments signed a letter of understanding in February scheduling the ongoing land-use plan negotiations.

But the Yukon government’s refusal to lay out its position angered First Nation leaders.

Two weeks ago, Taylor and Nacho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn showed up for a scheduled meeting with Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Patrick Rouble to discuss the Peel.

But once at the door, they were told Rouble was busy.

“It was an insult,” said Taylor.

“We’re getting quite concerned with stalling tactics and it’s never a good indicator when ministers start hiding.”

After the chiefs publicized the snub, the government became more interested in meeting, he said.

Yukon officials agreed to divulge their position on Tuesday.

But Rouble is also asking to extend the deadline for negotiations until July.

“We were hoping it would all be wrapped up by December,” said Taylor.

“But it looks like there is a six-month extension.”

The February letter also included an interim staking ban within the Peel.

It expires in February.

The interim staking ban must be extended during the negotiations, said Taylor.

“There’s no way around it,” he said.

Taylor was hoping to receive a letter with the Yukon government’s position before Tuesday.

“The important thing right now is for the government to show their position,” he said.

“That’s what’s important to us.”

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

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