Friday, November 30, 2012

Gwich'in to YG: accept the plan

Fort McPherson, N.W.T. resident James Andre garnered lots of media attention when he attended the Yukon government's open house on the Peel watershed Friday. His message: accept the Final Recommended Plan because the Tetlit Gwich'in are not willing to accept any less protection than that.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Say no to Paz's Peel plans: youth group

Malcolm Boothroyd is spreading a simple message.
Reject what he calls the “Pasloski plans.”
Better yet, rip them up. Literally. To illustrate the point.
That’s what the young Yukoner did in front of several hundred people who had braved minus 30 temperatures to pack a public meeting on the Peel in Whitehorse this week.
Boothroyd, a founder of the Peel Youth Alliance, doesn’t want the Yukon to miss the opportunity to create a great wilderness legacy by protecting an entire watershed.
He reminded the audience that in many other parts of the continent all that’s left to protect is a single creek or a pond.
The remains of his torn up “concept” maps, strewn across the floor around the podium, put a big smile on the face of another speaker, Sarah Jerome.
“I just love this,” said Jerome, pointing to the bits and pieces as she settled in behind the microphone.
Growing up on the banks of the Peel River, just south of Fort McPherson,  the Tetlit Gwich’in woman talked passionately about what the region means to her.
“I call it God’s country,” she said. “This is where my late parents raised us….They were the keepers of the land. They taught us that we have to take care of this beautiful land up there.”
She’d prefer to see 100 per cent of the watershed protected from industrial development, but noted the Gwich’in Tribal Council had agreed to the compromise of 80 per cent in the final recommended plan.
“I am so happy tonight to see so many people here that are supporting our efforts,” she said. “And I want to say mussi cho from the bottom of my heart. “
Mount Lorne resident Clara Sharp said she’s so upset at the way the government is dealing with the Peel plan she just had to stand up and say something.
“I think that the Peel [issue] is way bigger than the wilderness in which we all live and have to protect and have to really fight for. I think our democracy is also under siege - not just territorially, but federally. But what the hell do we do about it?”

No pasaran!

After living in the Yukon for more than 30 years, Whitehorse resident Jean Francois Deslauriers said the land is as important to him as ever.
“I’m here today again to say ‘No pasaran!’ - you will not pass,” he said.
“Ever since the Yukon Party government was elected and came up with this fantasy to challenge us like that, to reject the plan that we had put in place, as Yukoners, as a people, ever since they did that, I’ve seen the greatest resistance movement that I’ve ever seen in the Yukon,” he said.
Werner Rhein, who is with Yukoners Concerned About Oil and Gas, said his group helped convince the government to put a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Whitehorse Trough earlier this year. Now it's turned its attention to fracking and is also concerned about the Peel plan.
"The Pasloski minority is not respecting the majority of Yukoners,” he said.
NDP environment critic Kate White told the audience that a campaign this week outside the legislature to get drivers to honk in support of the Peel is working.
“Let me tell you when they honked for the entire Question Period, and it was hard to concentrate, and if you’re not sure that’s effective, let me tell you they heard you yesterday,” she said.
People sitting in the public gallery every day, wearing their Protect the Peel t-shirts, and watching the politicians at work, also has an impact, she said.
She told the crowd she wished she could wear one in the House, but she can't because "it's unparliamentary."

Consultation by sticky note

It’s Day 4 of the Yukon government’s five-day open house on the Peel land use plan and the walls are slowly filling up with flip chart pages plastered with colourful sticky notes.
There's more than 80 individual comments so far. Most are brief statements. Some are questions.  Few of them are signed. And by far the vast majority favour the plan and protection.
Here’s a smattering:
  • “We want to hear from you.” That’s insulting to the six years of consultation I and thousands of others participated in.
  • Creating new land use designations that misuse the word “wilderness” is obfuscatory.
  • It bothers me that the difference between RUWA [Restricted Use Wilderness Area] and IMA  II [Integrated Management Area II) is essentially indistinguishable.
  • Shut up and protect the Peel.
  • Is the plan to “consult” until we give up?
  • How will the final decision-makers be accountable to the consultation process?
  • You say “We want to hear from you.” Well you’re hearing from me and I say protect the Peel.
  • Let’s open up the area so all Yukoners have access.
  • I believe all Class One QM [Quartz Mining] activity should require a permit.
  • I am enormously frustrated by the waste of taxpayers’ money this new process involves. The original plan should be maintained.
  • Adopt the original Final Recommended Plan.
  • I support the commission’s Final Recommended Plan. The concept plans provide no protection.
  • The Peel is one of the last places on the planet not harmed (mostly) by resource and other human developments.
  • Respecting the UFA [Umbrella Final Agreement] does not mean giving FNs [First Nations] everything they ask for.
  • Why is the Final Recommended Peel Watershed Land Use Plan not being adopted?
  • Why is there no mention of linear density allowance for RUWA [Restricted Use Wilderness Area] or RUWA corridor. This is critical information.
  • Restricted Use Wilderness Areas allowing roads will destroy wilderness. These new designations are misleading and untransparent. I support the Final Recommended Plan as the only plan for the Peel.
  • There’s more to these areas than money. Some land must remain pure and untouched.
  • Let Yukon residents have their input measured. A referendum is democratic.
  • This area deserves the protection set out by the Peel planning commission. For the plan to change shows no respect for the democratic process that created it, to say nothing of the values of the Yukon FN who supported the planning commission.
  • My value (for this region) is trust, that people negotiate in good faith, so that people can trust the governmental process. This is the most basic value that has been violated by this government so many times. You have not stated your intentions during the election. This is not good faith. Now you try to inform again! Shame on you. 

Consultations don't cut it: Peel chair

Dave Loeks had hoped this round of consultations on the Yukon's Peel watershed land use plan would be the last.
Now he doesn’t think so.
“I frankly don’t recognize what’s going on next door,” Loeks told a packed house at the Gold Rush Inn on Wednesday night, referring to the Yukon government’s Peel open house on the other side of the wall.
“It does not conform to the requirements of the Umbrella Final Agreement so I don’t think it counts,” he said.
“We’re going to have to do this again if they’re actually going to fulfill the UFA, so we’ll see each other again.”
The view of the Peel Youth Alliance.
As chair of the Peel planning commission, Loeks spent six years studying the vast region, considering the options for its future and consulting with all stakeholders and the public on numerous occasions.
The commission found there were two distinct camps - those who wanted to develop the Peel with mines and roads and those who wanted to keep the watershed just the way it is as a virtually roadless wilderness.
Since society was so divided, the commission decided to preserve the most options for the future and protect the wilderness.
Loeks criticized the government's new "concepts" for the area, saying it is misusing the term wilderness.
“You don’t have roads in wilderness and you have to be very clear on that,” he said.

In his opinion, the government's new “concepts” are outside the parametres of the UFA because they are not the product of a public process.
“They were essentially cooked up by bureaucrats talking to bureaucrats,” he said.” It was not talking to people like you.”
As for the government's open house meeting format, Loeks said it is not a reliable way to collect information.
CPAWS-Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society, which organized the town hall gathering, say the final recommended plan produced by the commission is the only one people should support. It protects 80 per cent of the region.
“As far as we are concerned, that plan is the only plan which is legitimate under the Umbrella Final Agreement,” said CPAWS-Yukon executive director Gill Cracknell.
“It was produced by a transparent process, by an independent and arms-length body. These concepts, these tools, these managements tools, these new designations, have been brought by the government at the last moment and outside of the Umbreall Final Agreement.”
She also pointed out the Yukon government signed an agreement with the four affected First Nations to do this round of consultations together, but it has reneged on that and is going it alone.
“I wish they [government officials] would come in here and listen tonight," said Cracknell. "But since they have chosen not to let’s get on with it."
More than a dozen speakers took to the microphone during the two-hour event, sharing their ties to the Peel and the reasons they want it protected. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Peel public meeting packed

It was standing-room-only at a public meeting on the Peel watershed at Whitehorse's Gold Rush Nov. 28.

Honk for the Peel (if your horn isn't frozen)

Minus 30 temperatures didn't deter this caribou from drumming up support for Peel protection on the corner of Main St. and Fourth Avenue in downtown Whitehorse.  Lots of drivers responded to the call.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And on the 2nd day....

At almost any given time on Day 2 of a five-day open house on the Peel plan, Yukon government officials easily outnumbered members of the inquiring public.

Sometimes by as many as seven or eight to one.
That ratio seemed to intimidate some people who came in expecting a more balanced affair.

Especially if they hadn't followed the process closely and were simply seaching for more information to help them understand the muddled world of Peel land use planning.

Others were fine with the one-on-one structure – it was the answers they didn't like.
Whitehorse resident Chris Pinter came looking to learn more about all sides of this contentious debate before providing his input.

"I want to know what all the groups are saying and when I come here to learn about it, I'm getting 'what's your opinion?' so the government is asking me for feedback but they don't seem to be willing to share what those opinions are," he said in an interviews.

"It’s kind of frustrating because I really want to give my feedback but I can’t. I’m not going to without some kind of knowledge.”
Several people were surprised to find the government and the conservation groups were not in the same hotel meeting room as they had expected they'd be.
“But I was sure that’s what they said on the radio this morning,” said one disappointed man.

The government’s open house is on one side of the Gold Rush Inn's saloon - in the General Store - while the conservation groups are on the other, in the Parlour Room.
Both have sandwich boards on the sidewalk outside to draw in visitors and many people were hitting one then the other, in no particular order, as they tried to make some sense of it all.

Although the information at the two places is markedly different, questions dominated discussion at both.

Why doesn’t the government just accept the Final Recommended Plan?
Why does the open house end at 7 p.m., making it difficult for working people to participate?
Has a tote road ever been decommissioned in the history of mining in the Yukon?
How many Yukoners work in the existing mines?

How temporary is a temporary bridge across a river in the Peel?
Why won’t the government post peoples’ comments on its website until late February or early March?
What part of the Umbrella Final Agreement is the government violating and why is it picking a fight with First Nations?
Why is the government determined to open up the Peel to industrial development right now?

Why even bother with a land use plan? 
“I think the whole Peel should be opened up for development,” said one guy.

He blamed the government for letting the Peel land use plan get out of hand when it came to the issue of protection. They should have seen "this" coming.
About 30 people attended Tuesday's open house, a few more than the first day.
The Whitehorse open house runs until Friday Nov. 30. It goes from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Conservation groups are also holding a public meeting on the Peel Wednesday, Nov. 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Gold Rush Inn. 
The government is holding an open house in Mayo on Dec. 3 at the Curling Club and in Dawson on Dec. 4 at the Downtown Hotel.

Dueling sandwich boards

Conservation groups and the Yukon government are both using sidewalk sandwich boards to draw people in to their open houses on the Peel plan at the Gold Rush Inn in Whitehorse.


Monday, November 26, 2012

What they heard - Day 1

A STICKY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS - More than 25 people attended the first of a five-day open house in Whitehorse on the final recommended Peel land use plan. This flip chart provides a sampling of what Yukon government officials heard. It's the only place where people can leave a comment that will be seen and read by others. All other comments are being withheld until after consultations end in February.   

Welcome to Watershed Mart

The first of a five-day open house in Whitehorse on the Peel watershed got off to a shaky start today.

When the doors to the General Store meeting room at the Gold Rush Inn swung open at 11 a.m., officials were still rushing around putting the finishing touches on their "stations" and trying to get the technology to work.

There's a station with maps and details on the Final Recommended Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.

There's a station with maps and details of the government's new so-called "concepts."

There's a communications station with big, coloured and lined sticky pads for people to jot down a few words and post it on one of several flip charts conveniently located around the room.

There's also a feedback form people can fill out and stuff in a comment box, but so far not one of the dozen or so people who have trickled in have opted for this.

And there's also the requisite power point presentation station with the big screen.

To help people negotiate this maze, a Walmart greeter meets them as they come through the door and tries to determine where they should be directed.

Officials from the departments of Energy, Mines and Resources, Economic Development, Environment and Tourism are located at the stations to answer questions.

Some people know what they're after but many are truly bewildered by the all the maps and the processes and the land use planning jargon.

The Yukon government's open house runs every day this week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The public has until Feb. 25 to tell the government whether they want it to accept or reject the final recommended plan.

Click here to read CBC's story, Opposing groups hold Peel meetings in same Whitehorse hotel.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The mystery of the missing website

When the new Peel consultation website was launched in late October, it replaced the record of the 2010 consultations.
It has no link to the 2010 site nor is the old information buried deep in the new Frequently Asked Questions section.
A Google search for the old site turned up zip.
The regional land use planning page on the Yukon government's Energy, Mines and Resources’ website didn’t have it either.
And it wasn't on the Peel planning commission’s site, where it also belongs, beside hundreds of other documents representing seven years of work on the region.
It simply had vanished.
Queries to the government determined that the only person who might know was on holidays for the week and the land use planning council folks said it hadn't been sent to them.
Just when it looked like this may be a case for Inspector Clouseau (of Pink Panther fame), the missing website miraculously materialized.
It didn't want to talk about where it had been, but it did return with a brand, new url -
And even though it's missing a “www” and still can't be located with an Internet search, at least it's safe and sound.
Not only does it contain a complete collection of comments and submissions made by individuals, organizations and industry in 2010, it has transcriptions of all that was said at every public meeting in Whitehorse, Mayo, Dawson City, Old Crow, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik.
A true public record.
And even though it's two years old, it's still a great read.
More importantly it can pinch-hit for those in need of a Peel reading fix over the next four or five months while they wait for the government to release what people are saying now.
Unlike 2010, when the public's comments and submissions were immediately posted online, this time the government's keeping them under lock and key until the consultation period ends in the spring.
Gone also are the public meetings of the past, where people could hear what each other had to say. They've been replaced by tightly-controlled "open houses" where officials will meet people one-on-one and jot down their concerns on a flip chart.
As Inspector Clouseau would say:“There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh and this is not one of them.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Peel Watershed Journals seeks stories

If you have a tale to tell about your time in the Peel watershed, a Dawson City publishing trio wants to hear from you.
The Peel Watershed Journals is the brainchild of Andrew Robinson, Melina Tessier Fontaine and Troy Suzuki.
They're hoping to use the project to raise awareness of the Peel and its final recommended land use plan.
“We are looking to collect stories and anecdotes from people who have spent time in any part of the Peel drainage,” they say in their call for submissions.
“Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness of some of the human history that has taken place in that country in order to humanize the bond between that land and its inhabitants to those who may be less educated or knowledgeable about its splendour."
What you want to write about is up to you - hunting, trapping, guiding, prospecting, biological studies, mountaineering, canoeing or whatever else your most treasured experience in the Peel may entail.
“This is history in the making,” they say.
“It is our responsibility, as people who believe in keeping wilderness areas intact for future generations, to have our voices heard and to make every effort possible to protect and honour one of the last great wilderness areas on this planet."
The deadline for submissions is Jan. 12.
They're still deciding whether to print the collection or put it online or do both.

Since contributions are a one-time deal and the project is a non-profit endeavour, they say all copyright will remain with the author.
Submissions can be sent to Voices of the Peel, Box 1366, Dawson City, Yukon Y0B 1G0 or emailed to

The Wind River Variations

A new collection of poems on the Peel River watershed by nationally-acclaimed writer Brian Brett was recently released.

The Wind River Variations promises to take the reader "on an expedition" into the heart of the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume river valleys.
Best known for his brilliant, angry and hilarious book, Trauma Farm, which chronicles life at his Salt Spring Island agricultural project, Brett was also the Yukon’s writer-in-residence back in the day when there was money for such luxuries.
In 2003, Brett paddled the Peel’s Wind River as part of the Three Rivers Journey.
He was one of an assortment of writers, artists, photographers and conservations travelled down the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume to draw attention to the region's natural splendours.
That’s when Brett first met Yukon photographer Fritz Mueller, whose powerful black and white images accompany this latest poetic rendering.
“In an odd kind of way, the plundering of the world in the past is understandable, because there wasn’t the knowledge,” Brett writes his new book’s acknowledgements.
“Now, there are no excuses, and the almost belligerent and certainly arrogant lust of so many individuals to destroy what remains merely to create more wealth for a few has to make us wonder about the mental health of our species, and its eventual survival."

The Wind River Variations is published by B.C.-based Oolichan Books.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NDP questions 'phony' Peel consultations

Here's what Yukon Party cabinet ministers Currie Dixon and Brad Cathers had to say about the Peel under questioning from the NDP's Kate White in the legislature Nov. 21.

Kate White:  The government likes to toot its own horn when it comes to the current Peel consultation process. This isn’t justified. They say the current consultation is meant to bring people together and be non-confrontational, yet on Monday the minister of environment implied in this House that people who oppose his government’s plans are radicals.
They can’t have it both ways. Either they support meaningful public consultation that allows people to express their honest opinions, even if they oppose the government’s narrow agenda, or they don’t.
Why is this government trying to silence critics of its proposals to open up the Peel to massive development by calling them radicals and holding public consultation that doesn’t allow for discussion?
Currie Dixon: I have to correct the member opposite in her assertions around the consultation process that’s underway currently. Of course we’re eager to hear from all Yukoners about their opinions and input - from a variety of Yukoners across the territory. We’re hosting a number of public meetings in affected communities, and we have a very interactive website, which we’ve unveiled recently to solicit input from Yukoners across the territory.
As I’ve said a number of times, we’re very interested in soliciting constructive, thoughtful input from Yukoners, and we hope that Yukoners provide that to us through the number of forums and discussion venues that are available.
Kate White:  When you go on to the current consultation website and enter information, there is no way to see it publicly. That does not lead to a trustful relationship with citizens.
In the government’s public relations materials the Blackstone and Ogilvie rivers have mysteriously disappeared. Colours that meant protection on the original maps mean development on the new maps. The final recommended plan from the Peel Watershed Planning Commission is buried. Few people believe the government is truly interested in their opinions.
How does the minister intend to repair the public trust that has been broken by the government’s phony approach to consultation on the Peel?
Brad Cathers:  What we see again from the NDP is a degree of rhetoric on these issues that could certainly lead to public misunderstanding of what the facts are. The member knows very well that, during the 2011 election campaign, the Yukon Party was clear about the fact that we did not think the commission’s document was the best plan for the area.
We committed to seeking modifications to be what we believe is more fair and balanced. We have and will continue to follow all our obligations under the process, including the commission’s plan in the documents included with the potential modifications that we have proposed.
We’ve made it clear that we’re seeking thoughtful and constructive input on this approach, and what the members consistently fail to reflect in their comments is the fact that our middle-of-the-road approach is aimed at being fair to both mining and tourism, and it provides that by limiting the maximum footprint of activity in restricted-use wilderness areas and by protecting river corridors from staking or any surface dispositions of a permanent nature. This would protect 99.8 percent of each and every land management unit designated as a restricted-use wilderness area; it would protect the river corridors and, in addition, protected areas would provide even greater protection to those existing values and interests.
Kate White: The minister’s opinions on the NDP are well known, and they’re wrong; they’re wrong; they’re wrong. The fact is that the government participated in the Peel planning process for almost seven years, then at the 11th hour the government decided it didn’t like the rules or the plan that resulted.
Now, instead of consulting on the final recommended plan, the government is promoting its narrow vision for development over all other values. Before Yukoners visit the government’s PR website, they should consider visiting for the straight goods, then with some good information they could visit the government website or attend the public event and try to make their voices heard.
Would the minister agree that an informed discussion is a good discussion - that opinions of First Nations and conservationists are relevant to the Peel issue and encourage people to visit as well as the government site?
Brad Cathers:  Mr. Speaker, the member for the NDP stood up and said that the government’s plan promotes development over all other values. That statement is absolutely incorrect. The member has had ample opportunity to become aware of the fact that what we have proposed is an approach that would manage the actual environmental impacts and effects of all users in an equitable manner while providing greater protection for the existing users of the area, especially including wilderness tourism and big game outfitters.
We know that the NDP have a very negative view of the mining industry. They don’t like to acknowledge the fact that a lot of Yukoners have made their living out of exploration, including within the Peel area.
Mineral exploration spending in the Peel region averaged $6 million per year from 2000 to 2008 and, in contrast, according to the Peel commission, wilderness tourism’s total value over a six-year period was $3.67 million. So again, in fact, more Yukoners have been engaged in mineral exploration in that area and derived their income from that area than did wilderness tourism.
But we believe that everyone’s livelihood matters, whether they be in mining exploration, wilderness tourism, big-game outfitting or other elements of the economy, and this government will stand firmly committed to being fair to everyone, regardless of their livelihood.

Last call for Peel protection

The bar at the Gold Rush Inn in downtown Whitehorse will be hopping next week.
Located smack dab between two week-long open houses on the Peel land use plan – one hosted by the Yukon government, the other by conservation groups -  the Gold Pan Saloon may serve as a much-needed refuge.
Both public events will run for five straight days from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30.
Both will be open for business from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Both will provide details on the Peel commission’s final recommended plan that protects 80 per cent of the watershed.
Both will also have information on the government’s new “concepts” that protect virtually nothing, but their maps will be as different as night and day.
All the areas the government has painted green, to imply protection, have been turned to brown on the conservation groups' maps.
They accuse the government of "greenwashing" and say brown more accurately represents the industrial activity that would be allowed.
The Wind and Bonnet Plume River region is a case in point.
It's green on government maps even though new mineral claims as well as oil/gas and coal dispositions would be allowed to blanket the region. Roads, railways and pipelines could run down the valley's corridors and bridges could span the rivers.
Government officials will be on hand in the General Store meeting room to discuss these colour questions and other Peel issues.
Conservation groups are holding their daily information sessions in the hotel's Parlour Room. 
They're also planning a midweek gathering in the larger Town Hall, beside the General Store, on Wednesday, Nov. 28 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. There'll be a microphone set up so people can speak their minds and hear what others have to say.
Given that they're hoping to fill the place with 300 people for the occasion, saloon managers may do well to whip up a Snake River shooter or a McLusky Creek cocktail to add to their offerings.
A couple of banjo players to pluck a few chords of that Deliverance theme song might also be in order.
With last call for the public input fast approaching at the end of February, this final round of community consultations on the Peel stands to play a pivotal role in the watershed's future.
Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Peel mining claims almost worthless: report

A report on the 8,400 quartz mining claims in the Peel watershed concludes they are “practically worthless.”
The report, written by MiningWatch Canada’s Ramsey Hart for the Yukon Conservation Society, is based on information from financial records of the Peel’s publically-traded companies.
It found almost all the expenditures by these companies since 2005 have been written off, said a Conservation Society news release.
Of the $168 million the public companies spent on acquisition and exploration of their Peel claims, only $5.7 million has not been written off, said the release.
The report looked at the significance of these write-offs as well as the status and potential market value of the Peel claims.
“In their financial statements most exploration companies list their property acquisition and exploration expenses as assets,” said Hart in the release.
“This is done on the assumption that mineral rights and information gained for the property are of equal value to the cost of obtaining them.
“Typically companies carry a property as an asset until it becomes clear it has little potential, at which point it is written off. Companies write off their expenses when they recognize that there is no viable deposit and/or they do not intend to proceed with additional work on the property.”
The write-offs don’t seem to be linked to the Peel planning process, but rather to a downturn in mineral prices and a weaker global economy, he said.
Three companies with substantial holdings in the Peel – Cash Minerals/Pitchblack Resources, Mega Uranium and Zinccorp Resources – didn’t mention the Peel plan in their year-end filings, said Hart.
Mining companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and its Venture Exchange are required by law to disclose materially important information to their shareholders through public filings, he said.
“They are required to disclose any factors that could affect up to 10 per cent of the value of the company,” he said.
“The fact that these companies did not mention the Peel planning process in their filings indicates that the planning process has not significantly affected their value.”
The report shows the Yukon government should stop using potential claim compensation as a reason to reject the final recommended land use plan, said YCS executive director Karen Baltgailis in the release.
“The companies’ own records show that they [the claims] are practically worthless,” she said.
“If these claims weren’t being renewed for free by the Yukon government during the staking moratorium in the Peel, they would almost certainly have long since lapsed.”

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to listen to a CBC Yukon radio interview about the report.

Monday, November 19, 2012

True colours

Yukon conservation groups have released new Peel watershed maps they say truly reflect the territorial government’s vision for the region.
All of a sudden all that green has turned brown.
That’s a more accurate colour, the groups say, because the government’s newly-released “concepts” open up almost the entire region for industrial development.
The new maps are aimed at clarifying the confusion created by the government’s “greenwashing” tactics.
The last round of public consultation on the final recommended Peel plan kicked off Oct. 23.
At that time the government also presented its four “concepts” for the region. They stand in stark contrast to the final recommended plan which protects 80 per cent of the region.
Click here to see the new maps.

'Blatant disregard' a major concern

Although CPAWS-Yukon is pleased the last round of consultations is now underway, executive director Gill Cracknell said she is “profoundly disturbed” the government is confusing the public by introducing new concepts that “afford little to no real protection” for the Peel.
"Yukon government's actions are in blatant disregard of the work of an arms-length public body which was guided by a constitutionally-mandated process under the Umbrella Final Agreement.
"This in itself must be a grave concern to all Yukoners, regardless of economic sector or political stripe,” said Cracknell, who recently replaced Mike Dehn who retired due to illness.
Her organization is urging the public to tell the government it supports the final recommended plan prepared by the Peel planning commission.
The government is holding open houses in Whitehorse Nov. 26 - 30, Mayo Dec. 3 and Dawson City Dec. 4.
It also plans to visit Old Crow, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic but no dates have yet been set.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stand together, speak up, Peel doc urges

Peel protection returns to centre stage

The last battle in the long struggle to protect northern Canada’s Peel watershed is officially underway.
And by all accounts it looks like it's going to be one heck of a fight.
First Nations, conservation and tourism groups and much of the public want the Yukon government to accept the final recommended Peel land use plan.
Seven years and $1.5 million in the making, the independent planning commission concluded that 80 per cent of the Peel River region be protected from roads and other new industrial development.
But the government disagrees.
It recently cooked up its own plan, behind closed doors, that provides virtually zero protection.
First Nations say this approach is illegal, but the government doesn't seem to care if the territory gets tied up in a lengthy court dispute over land claims.
Now it's the public's turn to weigh in.
Between now and Feb. 25, the government is accepting written comments and also holding a series of community meetings in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
It expects to make a final decision on the Peel by May 4. That's when the current ban on new mineral claim staking and oil/gas/coal dispositions expires.
In the upcoming weeks and months, this site will carry news, views and other scintillating snippets from the frontlines including:
  • Complete community meeting coverage
  • Consultation updates and related happenings
  • Analysis and opinion  
  • Backgrounders on the Peel, the plan and the players
  • Excerpts from the political arenas
  • Features on the Peel's mining and oil/gas/coal companies
  • Related stories and links from other media outlets
Comments, questions and suggestions from readers are most welcome. Peel Watershed Dispatches is also on Twitter @peelwatershed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The big reveal

Mount MacDonald, the Peel's tallest peak, reveals itself in time.