Today’s mailbox: Aishihik alternatives and the ethics of cooperation

Letters to the editor published Sept. 4

Yukon Energy has had plenty of time to find alternatives to Aishihik Lake, reader says

Since the construction of this power plant in 1975 the continual drawdown of water levels on Aishihik Lake has severely damaged wetlands, destroying habitat for many aquatic species and migratory birds.

For decades, Yukon-based media (in local papers and on CBC) documented impacts on habitat that were reported to Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC), Yukon’s public utility. So YEC has been informed, over and over again, that a different approach would be required to cease the destruction of habitat for species that depend on the lake.

Water levels on this lake need to be kept at levels high enough to prevent further damage to the wetlands and to assist in their recovery after decades of harmful practices with water levels.

In 2016, YEC agreed to work together with Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) on a solution for the dam. When YEC recently submitted an independent, not collaborative, proposal for the dam, it again retreated to the only solution it has ever supported.

Which is not a very good public attitude for a public utility to take.

YEC’s attitude is, at the root, politically directed.

On August 11, CAFN released a statement:

“The story of the dam at Äshèyi is one of hardship and past wrongs. We have been impacted by the production of affordable power for Yukoners and industry for close to 50 years, and the costs to our land, water, fish, wildlife and people have been extremely high.”

If this power facility were coupled with a wind energy project, Aishihik Lake could act as a giant battery providing power when and if the wind farm couldn’t produce sufficient energy.

Wind energy has a role to play in a viable climate adapted energy future for Yukon, but YEC has actively suppressed and resisted the evidence about wind solutions.

Which is not a very public attitude for a public utility to take.

Yukon Energy’s water licence to operate this facility is up for renewal. As a condition for the renewal of this water licence Yukon Energy should be required to: ensure the building of a minimum fifty megawatt wind farm, and operate Aishihik power station only when there is insufficient wind energy.

Rob Lewis

Whitehorse

YG shouldn’t encourage cooperation with First Nations requests unless required by the courts, Faro resident says

The Yukon government issued a statement on hunting rights on Aug. 21 as follows, “licensed hunters do not require permission to hunt on non-settlement lands in any traditional territory.”

As of Aug. 31, hunters inquiring to the (Department of Environmenet) about hunting on Kaska non-settlement lands are still told, “while permission is not required for non-settlement land, we encourage all harvesters to ‘voluntarily comply’ with requests from First Nations when hunting and fishing in their traditional territory.”

In a (2019 Yukon Supreme Court) decision, Ross River Dena Council has their claim concerning this matter dismissed by Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale.

On June 25, 2019, RRDC filed its notice of appeal to the decision.

When talking to the (Department of Environment), they emphasize the wording “voluntarily.”

Nevertheless, even if the (Department of Environment) would be within their rights to ask hunters to “voluntarily comply,” it appears to be a conflict of interest or, at the very least, highly unethical and not in the (Department of Environment’s) mandate.

Hartwig Schaupp

Faro

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