Whitehorse: The Yukon Liberal Party is condemning the Yukon Party Government for its mishandling of thePeel Planning Process.
The Peel Watershed Planning Commission presented its recommended plan for the Peel in December 2009.The Commission’s recommendations included input from all key stakeholders, including several First Nations, Government, and NGOs.
According to Chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement, as referenced in a Joint Letter of Understanding between four First Nations and the Yukon Government in January, 2011, the Yukon Government had a chance to “modify, accept, or reject” the Commission’s recommendations, before a final draft of the plan was presented in November, 2011. Both the previous and present Yukon Party Governments said nothing on this issue.
Last week, the Yukon Party Government released its ‘Guiding Principles for the Peel Regional Land Use Plan’, which dictated the Government’s intention to reject the Final Recommended Peel Plan.
Sandy Silver, Klondike MLA and Liberal Critic for Energy, Mines and Resources, says that consecutive Yukon Party Governments had almost two years to tell Yukoners how they planned to address the recommendations of the Peel Planning Commission – instead they chose to ignore not only the recommendations of the Commission, but the entire process.
“This Yukon Party Government is cheating the process, but more importantly, it’s cheating the people,” says Silver. “Its actions are an insult to First Nation governance; these actions are morally reprehensible, fiscally irresponsible, and could have major legal ramifications. Yukoners need to be able to trust their Government to honour its responsibilities by following due process. Sadly, this shows a continuation of the arrogance, deception and irresponsibility that we’ve seen in past Yukon Party Governments.”
The Government’s rejection of the Commission’s recommended plan was condemned last week by the Chair of the Peel Planning Commission, Yukon’s Tourism Industry, four First Nations Chiefs, and several Yukon NGOs.
The Peel Planning Commission’s findings involved seven years of consultation and $1.6 million to complete.
“Yukon Party governments have wasted millions of taxpayer’s dollars, by facilitating a process that they never had any intention of following,” says Silver. “We’re now in a situation where no one knows what will happen next, except for a few key Yukon Party people who are making decisions behind closed doors. This creates an environment of uncertainty that could erode confidence in future Land Use Planning processes and which will inevitably be bad for all forms of business in the Territory.”
To add insult to injury, the Yukon Party Government spent even more taxpayer dollars this past week, on local print advertising in an attempt to justify its actions to the public. One full page ad titled “Finding a Balance to protect the Peel Region”, claims that “the debate has shifted from whether to protect the Peel, to how to protect the Peel”. The ad directs all inquiries to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
“The Minister for Energy, Mines and Resources needs to immediately stop using public money to pay for Yukon Party propaganda,” says Silver. “If the Yukon Party was using its own money to try to manipulate public debate surrounding the Peel, after spending the last two years dodging every question on this issue, I’d say it was a bit rich. The fact that it is using Government money to do this is just plain wrong. Besides, how can Yukoners expect any protection in the Peel, if this Yukon Party Government isn’t even willing to protect the consultative process it established to address this issue in the first place?”
For additional information contact:
Blake Rogers 667-8942
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