Monday, April 29, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
There have been conflicting and misleading public statements regarding the process and status of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. As parties to the planning process, we feel it’s in the public interest to clarify the status of the plan and the process going forward.
Here is where we presently are in the Peel planning and approval process:
• We have the commission’s final recommended plan.
• Yukon has consulted the public on that plan.
• Yukon recently reported the results of public comments on the plan.
• These comments are being reviewed by the parties—the governments of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Nacho Nyak Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin, Gwich’in Tribal Council and Yukon.
The next step, which has not yet begun, is intergovernmental consultation on the plan among the First Nations and the Yukon. The public and intergovernmental consultations will inform the parties’ decisions regarding plan approval and implementation. The First Nations are in communication with Yukon to determine the process and schedule for intergovernmental consultation and plan approval.
We were concerned when Yukon provided only superficial and general comments on the commission’s December 2009 Draft Recommended Plan. Our concerns were heightened when Yukon unilaterally developed and published new plan principles and management tools for the plan after the commission filed its final recommended plan.
These actions do not conform to the letter or intent of land use planning in Yukon, as provided in our final agreements. Nor do they comply with the letters of understanding we developed with Yukon for the Peel planning process. We are in ongoing communication with Yukon in this regard.
We feel the attack on the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in the premier’s recent budget speech was unfortunate from two perspectives. Firstly, this attack on a public society was not to the standard of public governance we expect in our legislature. Secondly, the implication that CPAWS is the driving force behind protection for the Peel is simply not true.
Our people have used the Peel watershed for thousands of years. For us, the Peel has unparalleled value. Also, the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan comes from our final agreements. While we appreciate CPAWS and others participating in the Peel public review processes, it is our governments that are the parties to the plan. We represent our mandates and interests directly. No one else speaks on behalf of our governments.
We need to get past the highly charged rhetoric in the legislature. We need to return to the business at hand. Specifically, we need to plan and commence intergovernmental consultations in a collaborative manner so we can respectfully consider and ultimately implement the plan. This is the process envisioned in our final agreements and agreed to in our intergovernmental letters of understanding as parties.
“It is disappointing the parties have not maintained a consistent process and reached agreement on the Peel plan to this point”, said Vuntut Gwitchin chief Joe Linklater. “We are trying to engage with Yukon respectfully in the manner set out in our agreements and our ongoing intergovernmental arrangements and we will continue to do so until this option is no longer available.”
“We are approaching the end of a long process mandated by our final agreements,” stated Nacho Nyak Dun chief Ed Champion. “We need to work together in good faith to complete the process, within the spirit and intent of our treaties.”
“We for sure appreciate the overwhelming support of CPAWS and Yukon public”, said Tr’ondëk Hwech’in chief Eddie Taylor, “although the direction we follow when it comes to protecting the Peel comes from our elders and citizens.”
“We’re here for the long term. We rely on the resources in the Peel. This plan will not only protect the Peel. It will protect our people,” said Gwich’in Tribal Council vice-president Norman Snowshoe.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Monday was Earth Day and so it seemed fitting that land use planning led off Question Period in the Yukon legislature.
At issue - a damning letter from the Yukon Land Use Planning Council. Here
's the "word-for-word" on what was said:
Monday, April 22, 2013
|Fuel-laced soil makes grizzly wallow.|
- provide the greatest benefit to residents of Yukon by developing the land use plan within the context of a prosperity agenda that enables responsible economic development, ensures appropriate ecological protection and reflects the social and cultural values of Yukon residents;
- respects the right of existing lease holders, as reflected in existing contracts, lease agreements and other legal documents and;
- ensure the plan is consistent with differing jurisdictional initiatives (ie. Pathways to Prosperity, Yukon Ports Access Strategy, economic development objectives, Yukon Energy Strategy and various other plans and strategies).
Chevron renews interest in North
Friday, April 19, 2013
In a scathing five-page letter to the Yukon government and the four affected First Nations, Ian Robertson says the current situation is "untenable" and will take "courageous leadership" to restore the public's trust and confidence.
"To put it bluntly, the Peel plan has become a boat anchor and a lightning rod for division on a number of fronts," says the letter.
"The Peel is also a distraction for industry and undermines government efforts to demonstrate that the Yukon is a good place to invest. Land use certainty, clear rules and an effective land use administration system based on best practices is a goal shared by all."
His four main concerns regarding the government's handling of the plan:
- The approval process did not follow key sections of the letter of understanding that the parties agreed to in January 2011.
- The development and release of plan principles was done independent of any consultation with First Nations or input from the council.
- The proposed modifications were not based on consultation outcomes but cobbled together with little "support evidence as to their validity."
- It is desirable that the land designation system used across all Yukon regional plans should be relatively consistent in terms of definition and application. The approved North Yukon regional land use plan provided a guide to build upon.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
More than 85% of the written comments, received during the four-month Peel consultation, urged it to accept the final recommended land use plan and/or protect most of the watershed from industrial development.
A review of 2,420 submissions - from First Nations, boards, organizations, businesses, political parties and individuals that were recently posted online - showed overwhelming support for the Peel commission's plan. Most were from the Yukon.
When petitions and postcards were thrown into the mix, that support increased to nearly 95%.
This figure doesn't include oral submissions, not even from elders of the affected First Nations. Their comments weren't recorded or transcribed or put in any form on the Peel consultation website, which serves as the official public record.
The government's What We Heard document didn't provide any hard numbers on plan approval or share what the majority of people said.
But three of its four general findings - namely that the government should accept the commission's plan, play by the rules and protect an irreplaceable global asset - were in keeping with this results of this count.
Its fourth dealt with the pro-development faction, a view that was clearly in the minority.
This review - which included opening and reading every single comment - also found the government's "concepts" were pretty much a bust. A poor attempt at “switch and ditch” as one guy put it. Ignored by some, criticized by others, they seemed to simply create more confusion than anything.
The Council of Yukon First Nations chastized the government for putting forward such substantive changes at this late stage in the planning process. The chance to do that was in 2009, not now, it said.
But with the Peel's moratorium on new mineral claims and oil/gas/coal dispositions set to expire May 4, time is of the essence to complete a final plan, said the Gwich’in Tribal Council, which represents four N.W.T. First Nations.
The Tetlit Elders' Council, of Fort McPherson, called the government's move to add its concepts confusing and disappointing.
“The elders of this community gave a lot of their traditional knowledge to the Peel commission’s land use planners and many of those elders are no longer here,” they wrote. “We elders put so much time and consideration into the commission’s plan – your new concepts and land use designations disrespect all of that knowledge and work.
"Active management is not protection. Protected lands and active management cannot live together; it is one or the other.”
“For example, one mitigative tool described is temporary access, yet temporary is not defined nor has it been explained how temporary reverts back to no access,” it said. “The board has a long established position on access and its potential negative implications on wildlife and habitat. It is our experience that access is never temporary, nor is it regulated effectively.”
The Porcupine Caribou Management Board also backed the commission's plan. “The process to arrive at the final recommended plan was inclusive and consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement, in contrast to the current process," the board wrote.
About 30 business and conservation organizations answered the call for feedback.
"This is a plan that most Yukoners, all of the affected First Nations and the tourism industry have accepted, as it would create more certainty for land use in the area and would accommodate the needs of most groups, including the tourism industry," it said.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines, one of only three groups to oppose the plan, commended the government for trying to find what it calls "a more balanced approach."
But even though it liked the designations and tools in the "concepts", it was concerned with "the current lack of details regarding the mechanics of establishment of a modified plan and plan implementation."
"The plan, as presented to the public, deals with the clear message from people that wildlife and habitat in the region are of the highest value, while also achieving areas of five land management units for integrated management areas where resource development is possible," it wrote.
As for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, it said it couldn't take a position because "not all members agree with each other on this issue."
Another two dozen or so private companies sent comments. Not surprisingly, the tourism businesses supported the commission's plan while most of the mining and oil/gas companies did not.
U.S. multinational Chevron, which has the Crest iron claims in the Snake River valley and oil/gas interests near the Dempster Highway, said the plan had to allow access to those resources.
With or without names, the comments are grouped and displayed in a way that making them hard to peruse and almost impossible to search. They are all divided only by how they were received - mail, fax, email, sticky note, etc. - and some also by date and location.
There is no index to serve as a guide for the business and organization submissions whose identities have been left intact.
The site has a search tab, but it only combs 635 individuals who used the web-form to comment. The other 1,500 or so written submissions, housed in individual electronic files, have to be clicked one at a time, category by category.
The much more user-friendly public record website of the 2010 Peel land use consultation has been recently removed from the internet altogether by the government. Now the only way to access that information is to contact the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Under questioning from Yukon NDP MLA Kate White, Premier Darrell Pasloski and Mines Minister Brad Cathers defended their decision to leave oral submissions off the public record of Peel land use plan consultations.
Here is the verbatim transcript of their oral comments in the legislature Monday.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
|Mayo residents brave -35 to attend Peel meeting.|
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Ever since the Feb. 25 deadline closed, it's been coy about when it was going to share the public's feedback with the public.
Late Thursday afternoon, it sent out a news release saying all the comments were now available on its peelconsultation.ca website.
It's arranged them by method of communication - emails or voice mails or whatever - and by community.
It's also stripped out all the names of the people who made the submissions, whether they wanted them to or not.
That'll make for more confusion as people sift through the muddle, perhaps trying to find their own entry or simply interested in what others had to say.
At the same time, the government released a 27-page summary report, prepared by J.P.Flament Consulting Services. Flament was part of the government's consultation team at most of the community consultations, acting as the "Wal-Mart greeter" who helped to steer people to the various "information stations."
In all more than 10,000 people answered the government's call for comment during the public consultation period this past winter.
More than 7,500 of those favoured the Peel planning commission's final recommended plan and urged the government to accept it.
Yukon NDP MLA Jim Tredger tried to quiz Premier Darrell Pasloski on the government's Peel plans during Question Period on April 2, but Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers provided all the responses. Here's the transcript of that exchange: