Question re: Act to Amend the Placer Mining Act and the Quartz Mining Act consultation - December 3, 2013
Hansard December 3, 2013
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier on Bill No. 66. The Premier has received an earful from both the mining industry and the First Nations of the Yukon over this legislation. One of the common concerns from both sides is a lack of consultation. The Teslin Tlingit Council has described the consultation process as vague, confusing and contradictory. The mining industry said back in June simply that the consultation period for amendments is too short.
For example, the government sent draft plain-language regulations to stakeholders on November 13 and gave them 14 business days to respond.
Why does the Premier think that 14 days is adequate to review these important regulations?
Whitehorse: Klondike MLA Sandy Silver said concerns raised by Yukon First Nations on the government’s handling of amendments to mining legislation confirm worries Silver has raised with the controversial Bill 66. The Council of Yukon First Nations and several First Nation Governments recently sent letters to the Premier outlining issues with the content of the bill as well as with the lack of consultation.
As highlighted in the letters, the Yukon Government has not met its obligation to work with First Nations on these important legislative changes. “It is a total farce to give First Nations two weeks to respond to complex regulations that will affect First Nations and the entire mining industry,” said Silver.Read more
Hansard November 21, 2013
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. After many years of dragging its heels and attempting to sell our publicly owned energy corporation to the private sector, the Yukon Party finally announced this summer that it was planning to expand our hydro generation. The Premier told local media in July that he wants to build a new hydro dam.Read more
Hansard November 20, 2013
Mr. Silver: I have more questions regarding this government’s answer to the Ross River Court decision. This government is responding to one aspect of the ruling by making changes to our mining legislation. The second part of the ruling is being met through government-to-government discussions with the Ross River Dena Council and Yukon government, as far as identifying lands in the Ross River area that will no longer be available for staking.
The minister said that he was working toward a December 27 deadline in those discussions with Ross River. He mentioned earlier today that he has been in discussion with the chief from RRDC. When did the discussions that the minister is referring to between Ross River and government begin? Could the minister tell us when that last meeting was?Read more
Whitehorse: Today’s announcement by Alexco that it intends to suspend operations at the Keno mine unfortunately comes as no surprise and provides another reminder how dependent our resource economy is on world mineral prices, says Klondike MLA Sandy Silver.Read more
Question re: Resource Access Roads Framework
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. In 2012, the minister introduced for public consultation a new Resource Access Roads Framework. It outlines the goals and principles that guide decisions around the development and management of resource access roads in the Yukon.
The purpose of this framework is to outline processes and provide guidance to regulators, industry and the public. While there was a great deal of hoopla when this consultation was first announced, there has never been any public confirmation that the framework has been adopted as official government policy.
Can the minister confirm that the Resource Access Roads Framework is now an official policy of this government?Read more
Question re: Energy supply and demand
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, we have had many discussions this spring about the government’s failure to plan for an energy cliff that Yukon is about to go over. Demand is rising when our supply can’t keep up. This lack of planning has left the government scrambling to keep up and has resulted in Yukoners paying higher electricity bills. The government is now moving ahead with plans to burn natural gas to try and address this problem. It’s better than diesel, but it’s certainly not a green fuel. A lack of planning has left us with no other options. The minister told this House a short time ago, “We do have a commitment to continue to pursue the development of hydro projects.” This is something we can support, Mr. Speaker.
Other than the project in Skagway that we’ve already discussed and is years away, what hydro project is the government pursuing and when might it be ready?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, in a recent article in the local newspaper, the Premier was asked about the potential of opening the Victoria Gold mine near Mayo.
The original plan for the mine was to tie into the existing power grid. However, the Premier told the paper that there is now a second option on the table: having the mine generate its own power by burning diesel or possibly a diesel-natural gas mix, and I quote: “Those two options are still on the table and being discussed by the company and officials as well”. The article goes on to say that, according to the Victoria Gold president, the company has no plans to generate its own power, “No, it’s still our intention to tie into the grid. We’re actually not permitted to have our own power system, so we’re working very closely with Yukon Energy Corporation to tie into the grid and have them provide power.”
The company and the Premier seem to be in contradiction with each other here, and I just want to know: Does the Premier stand by his comments, or does he want to correct the public record?Read more
Mr. Silver: One of the predominant themes of this sitting is a lack of planning done by this government when it comes to major issues. We have seen this with the new F.H. Collins Secondary School, with the two new rural hospitals, with doctor recruitment, with the Peel watershed, with the housing strategy and, of course, when it comes to planning for our energy future. We are facing a looming power supply shortage in the Yukon. We are fast approaching a power supply cliff, and even the minister himself has acknowledged that. One of the reasons we’re in this situation is a lack of planning from the government. A project the government is looking at in Skagway recently was trying to get money to fund a feasibility study. According to the Mayor of Skagway, the chances of the municipality getting a feasibility study funded are pretty slim. This is a $140-million project that is years away from happening, if it ever will. Has the Yukon Development Corporation spent any of its own money on this project?Read more
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?Read more