Question re: Whistle Bend subdivision – April 8, 2013

Mr. Silver: I have a question about the Whistle Bend subdivision. During the planning stages of this development, the Liberal caucus offered the government two pieces of advice: make the lots affordable, and don’t make them the size of a postage stamp. The government ignored both suggestions.

After an extended period of time — a time when there were no government lots for sale in Whitehorse at all — we are now in a situation where there are lots that clearly missed the market demand. It comes back to poor planning. At the height of demand there were no lots available and now, as demand starts to slip, there are small, overpriced lots that the public doesn’t seem to want. It has been more than six months since the lots went up for sale and 75 percent remain unsold.

Why did the government take so long to get these lots on the market, and why are they so overpriced that people can’t afford them?

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Question re: Select committee on hydraulic fracturing – April 4, 2013

Mr. Silver: I sent an open letter to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources this week regarding the establishment of a select committee to examine the issue of fracking. One of the issues I raised was how the creation of the committee will affect any private sector applicant that comes forward looking for permission to frack in Yukon. It is my view that the creation of the committee places a de facto moratorium on the practice of fracking in the territory. It would be inexcusable for the government to permit the activity until the committee has completed its work and Yukoners have been heard from; otherwise the work from the committee is irrelevant.

The company that owns the Kotaneelee gas well in southeast Yukon, in a presentation to stakeholders, said it plans to drill, complete and frack shale gas in 2013-14. The overlap of the work of the committee is obvious.

What is the government’s position on this question? Will it permit fracking before the committee has concluded its work and recommendations have been implemented?

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Question re: Dawson City waste-water facility – April 3, 2013

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works on the Dawson City waste-water treatment plant. The new facility is now operating and due to be turned over to the City of Dawson in August of this year. The city has expressed concerns about this rapidly approaching hand-off for numerous reasons. Frustration with the project reached new levels recently when the plant malfunctioned and sewage spilt into the street.

There have been repeated requests for more training and a longer period of time to ensure that the town has a good handle on what operation and maintenance costs will be before the facility is handed over.

Will the facility be turned over to the municipality as planned in August of this year whether the municipality wants it or not?

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Question re: Independent power producer policy – April 2, 2013

Mr. Silver: As far back as 2007, the Yukon Liberal Party has been advocating for the government to adapt an independent power producer policy, or an IPP. An IPP policy would enable businesses to generate their own electricity. This is something a number of mining companies are interested in doing. They see it as a way to power their own projects. The holdup is the Yukon government, which has been talking about putting a policy in place to allow this for over four years now and there still is no policy. The minister has told this House that work on the policy is ongoing. The government’s website says, “We expect to return to the public for review of the IPP draft policy in the coming months.” This is something industry and the Liberal caucus have been promoting for a number of years.

When will we see a policy in place?

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Question re: Dawson City and Watson Lake hospitals – March 28, 2013

Mr. Silver: The issue of new hospitals has been in the news lately and for all the wrong reasons. The government has been roundly criticized for poor planning and poor financial management of the two new hospital projects in rural Yukon. The Auditor General of Canada’s report on the mistakes the government made is quite a read.

The centrepiece of this year’s budget is a $27-million bailout of the Yukon Hospital Corporation to clean up the financial mess that has been created. Once the hospitals are finished they will need to be staffed. When the government decided to build these facilities there was no plan in place to staff either one of them.

Will the Minister of Health and Social Services confirm that nurses from Whitehorse General Hospital have been asked to work in the new hospital in Dawson because there are not enough nurses to staff the facility?

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Question re: First Nations/government relations – March 27, 2013

Mr. Silver: Last fall the Premier cancelled a scheduled meeting of the Yukon Forum on very short notice. Chiefs from around the territory had already travelled to Whitehorse for a meeting, only to be informed that the Premier would not be able to meet with them. It is an example of this government’s frayed relationships with Yukon First Nation governments. One of the items on the agenda was a new resource royalty agreement. On October 29, 2012, the Premier announced that a new deal with the Yukon First Nations was in place, but he said he wouldn’t be making it public until it was signed at the Yukon Forum. It turns out that announcement was premature as the deal isn’t done after all.

The forum has now been postponed indefinitely. It has been almost five months since the proposed deal was announced, but it remains under wraps. As of this week, it sounds like it might not get signed at all.

Will the Premier release the terms of the new resource royalty agreement that was referred to in the October 29 news release?

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Question re: Oil and gas development in Kaska traditional territory – March 27, 2013

Mr. Silver: Last fall, the Government of Yukon passed legislation to try to strip the Kaska of its veto over oil and gas development in its traditional territory. The Government of Yukon also signed an MOU with the Kaska in 1997 that spoke to the issue of consent and vetoes. The minister has thus far been completely silent on the ongoing enforceability of section 5.1 of the MOA, even with section 13 of the Oil and Gas Act having been repealed. I’m looking for a clear answer as to the government’s position at this point.

Will the minister confirm that the consent requirement for the issuance of new oil and gas dispositions in Kaska traditional territory, which the parties agreed to in good faith and confirmed in paragraph 5.1 of the January 1997 MOA, will continue to be honoured by the Government of Yukon? It’s a simple yes-or-no question.

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Question re: Energy supply and demand – March 26, 2013

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. There has been a great deal of discussion about the situation we find ourselves in with respect to a looming power supply shortage in the Yukon. We are fast approaching a power-supply cliff. Even the minister will acknowledge that. A decision by a major mine to go into production would likely push Yukon Energy beyond its current generating capacity, leaving us no choice but to burn diesel to meet the increased demand. Currently the Public Utilities Act obligates the government to allow these large industrial customers to be hooked up to the grid. It doesn’t have to be that way. To get around this obligation to serve, the government could simply amend the Public Utilities Act.

Has the government considered this idea and, if not, why not?

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Question re: F.H. Collins Secondary School reconstruction – March 25, 2013

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Education in regard to the reconstruction of F.H. Collins school. In regard to the handling of this project, there has been a great deal of well-deserved criticism directed at the government. After spending at least $6 million on this project, the Yukon Party decided just weeks ago to start all over again.

There is an opportunity to get it right this time. There is an opportunity to build a school that fits a community’s needs as opposed to one that fits an existing footprint. I believe the government made the wrong decision the first time around when it decided not to rebuild the tech and trades wing at the school. The government has essentially given itself a do-over.

Will the minister consider including a new tech and trades wing in the new F.H. Collins Secondary School?

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Question re: Peel watershed land use plan – March 21, 2013

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, February 25 was the deadline for submissions on the revised Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. Yesterday the government released information on how many people had participated in the public consultation process. Unfortunately, it kept the most important information to itself — what people think of the new plan. Were they for it, or were they against it? What did people think of the old plan? Were they for it, or were they against it?

Of course, the minister has this information and has chosen not to release it. According to the government — and I quote: “All feedback received during the consultation will be posted” on the website.

Will the minister be open and accountable and release this information that people want to hear about? What plan did the public support?

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