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Yukon’s Peel Planning Commission must rise above political meddling

  • Published on Jun 23 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: peel

Whitehorse – Yukon Conservation Society (YCS) and CPAWS-Yukon say that information from an Access to Information Request published by the Yukon News last Friday explains why the draft Peel Watershed Land Use Plan is weak on protection. The ATIP results show that a phone call from Premier Fentie to the Deputy Minister of Environment stopped Yukon Environment from submitting 22 pages of detailed technical input to the Peel Planning Commission. (View the suppressed comments. [Acrobat (PDF) file])

“We were surprised by the weak four pages of input provided by Yukon Environment in response to the scenarios circulated in the last round of consultation on the Peel plan,” said CPAWS-Yukon Executive Director Mike Dehn. “Now we’ve seen what Environment really wanted to provide. I think the Commission would have come out with a draft plan that featured much stronger protection if they had had this information.”

The affected First Nations and public have stated that they want 50-100% of the Peel watershed protected. The current draft plan only fully protects about 12% of the watershed.

“The Premier has stated in the legislature that there will be no political involvement in the Peel planning process until after the Commission recommends a plan in the fall,” said Dehn. “This is clearly not true – the Yukon government is preventing the Commission from receiving critical information. Yukon Environment employees are paid with tax dollars, and this government is preventing them from providing the technical information that the Yukon public expects.”

“The Peel Planning Commission has been trying to create a plan without extremely important information from a government department with critical expertise,” said YCS Executive Director Karen Baltgailis. “I think they took the gutted submission by Yukon Environment as an indication that Yukon government does not want protection of ecological values in the Peel – and it is clear from the Premier\'s actions they were right.”

“But the Commission needs to rise above the political meddling and be the arms length body they are mandated to be,” said Baltgailis. "The Commission needs to incorporate Yukon Environment’s detailed comments, and produce a plan that First Nations and the public can support. Then if the politicians end up rejecting or drastically altering the plan it will be clear that it is for political, not technical reasons. And it will be clear what this government thinks about the opinions of the voting public and First Nations governments.”

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For further information, contact:

Mike Dehn
Executive Director
CPAWS-Yukon
(867) 393-8080, ext. 2    

Karen Baltgailis
Executive Director
Yukon Conservation Society
(867) 668-5678