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This week’s mailbox: Yukon’s water and John Streicker’s car

Walking the talk on retrofitting

Walking the talk on retrofitting

I recently read the article in the Whitehorse Star, “Loans to ease way for energy efficient homes.” (See related coverage, Page 3) Hypocrisy is something I have a very low tolerance for, and I see nothing but hypocrisy from Minister Streicker on this subject. In many ways I am reluctant to write this letter as John has been a huge contributor to the Marsh Lake community, dedicating much time and effort to all the events in the community. This is what is expected from your local MLA and because of his efforts he has been rewarded with being elected as our MLA for his second term. He is a very congenial man, who always takes the time to listen to his constituents’ concerns and does his best to rectify them. When politicians take the job they realize they are open to criticism so I guess that has taken my reluctance away and this letter is justified.

The recent article about home retrofits really concerns me. As minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, he has announced that his government will provide low interest loans to Yukoners with the Better Buildings Program. This program will loan money to residential and commercial property owners to basically eliminate fossil fuel use and switch to heat pumps, or electric heat, as well as upgrade windows, insulation etc. as part of the Yukon climate strategy, Our Clean Future.

Minister Streicker has also been a huge advocate for the transition to EVs (electric vehicles). During the last election campaign he was boasting about setting up EV charging stations throughout the Yukon, including all the way up the Dempster Highway. His government is also subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles with a $5,000 rebate. Now the kicker.

John is a neighbour, so I see him often driving through the subdivision and I often walk by his house. The thing that gets me is this… the man drives a diesel-powered vehicle, and he has a large diesel fuel tank in his yard. I’m assuming this tank is what he uses to heat his home, but to be fair, I haven’t snooped around to see if it is actually hooked up.

I think these virtue-signalling politicians better stop just talking the talk, and maybe start walking the walk. Where is your electric vehicle, John? Where is your heat pump, John? Where is the new insulation, new windows, etc. in your 1980 vintage home?

I, too, drive a diesel vehicle, a Volkswagen Jetta, same as John’s, I also heat my house with oil. The difference between me and John is that I’m not the one preaching about the catastrophic effects of man-made climate change… he is. Your hypocrisy is overwhelming.

Bruce Bark

Yukon’s water needs our protection

Water is essential to life and common to everything that lives. It is our most precious resource and, therefore, needs our protection.

This is precisely what Maude Barlow, Canada’s renowned water advocate, has argued for years. In her most recent book, Whose Water Is It Anyway?, she states that a water secure and a water-just future depends upon our adoption of four principles:

“1. Water is a human right and an issue of justice and charity;

“2. water is a common heritage and public trust and, therefore, access to water must not be allowed to be decided by private, for profit interests;

“3. water has rights beyond its service to humans and must be respected and protected for the ecosystem and other living beings; and

“4. rather than being a source of conflict and division, water can be nature’s gift to teach us how we might learn to live more lightly on the planet and in harmony with one another.”

Since our inception in 2012 — in opposition to proposals to allow fracking in pursuit of fossil fuels — Yukoners Concerned has the preservation and protection of Yukon’s water as our ultimate purpose. We believe that Yukon has no more significant resource than its water.

As mining activity increases, through laws and regulations enacted in Yukon’s legislature, we must seek greater protection for water. Mining requires considerable quantities of water which originate from and ultimately return to our waterways. Both the use of and the return of that water should be of concern to us all.

We are all aware by now that water and climate change are closely linked. We, in the Yukon, are not immune from the effects of a warming climate: rapidly melting glaciers to our south and west; heavier than normal snow packs leading to flooding in the southern lakes and beyond; and melting permafrost undermining our infrastructure. Perhaps we can’t change the world but we can demand that greenhouse gas emissions from mining be included in Yukon’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gases.

During the coming month, Yukoners Concerned will address the following issues through the media:

The use of cyanide heap leach pads to extract gold and their long term impacts on water and the environment.

The cumulative effects of radiation on the land and water.

A global and historical overview of mining company behaviour.

The responsibility of the Government of Yukon for regulation and enforcement of the mining industry.

The importance of including the measurement of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from mining in Yukon’s goal of reducing emissions.

Proposing that the Government of Yukon require that reclamation funds reflect a minimum maintenance program of 30 to 50 years for all mine sites.

Yukoners Concerned is a citizen-based volunteer group. We believe our actions are based on values that align with Chapter 14 of the Yukon First Nations Umbrella Agreement (UFA) and its intent to “maintain the water of the Yukon in a natural state” while providing “for its sustainable use”. But, all Yukoners have a responsibility to ensure that our political masters keep our water pristine forever.

Don Roberts

Chair of Yukoners Concerned