River Fog in December

River Fog in December
River fog in the Yukon River Valley in Whitehorse

mardi 13 mars 2012

Peel River in Danger, Yukoners Furious

Ogilvie River, westernmost tributary of the Peel watershed.

The Yukon Party government position on the Peel is clear, despite its sibylline language: open it to "development", mine it to death. Ignoring the Yukoners' opinions, largely in favour of protection, and the recommendations of the Peel Planning Commission, the government position makes many Yukoners angry. Bob Hayes is one of them. I publish the letter he sent to Yukon MLAs, which, I believe, reflects the ideas of many people:

The Peel – Planning for wilderness or not

I am dismayed by the recent move of the Yukon Party government to ditch more than half a decade of land-use planning by the Peel Planning Commission. I did not have an idea about how much of the Peel should be protected, trusting whatever the Commission recommends after an exhaustive amount of considered opinions by government, First Nations, stakeholders, and the public. I think their recommendation to protect 80% of the watershed is good because they followed a fair and transparent process to get there. If they chose 40% or 30%, I would be just as happy.

But I am not happy.

Like the past Yukon Party government, nothing about this new one is any different. With less than 40% of Yukoners voting for them, they continue to ram their agenda down all of our collective throats. The Yukon Party’s decision to deep-six the recommended Peel plan is a fundamental challenge to principles of the Land Claims Umbrella Final Agreement, and democratic process. Their ‘majority’ government ensures there will be little opposition in the legislature.

There is a finite end to mountain wilderness in North America, and we are lucky to be living in it. Most Yukoners I know live here because we want to be part of this remarkable natural landscape.

But those of us who believe in a better Yukon can stand up. I will play my small part. I am about to begin a 13-city tour of Germany presenting a German translated version of ‘Wolves of the Yukon’. I will share my criticism of the Yukon Party’s decision to not protect the Peel wilderness with my audiences and German media. I hope they will be just as unhappy with the Yukon Party’s decision as I am. And I hope they write about it.


Bob Hayes