Dawson Regional Land Use Plan
The Yukon Government, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, and the Yukon Land Use Planning Council re-established a regional planning process around Dawson City. This new Commission has begun work in spring 2019 with the aim to deliver a regional plan. There is a Dawson Regional Planning Commission website. The Dawson Regional Land Use Plan (DRLUP)) area encompasses 39,854 km2. There is one major Yukon community within it, the City of Dawson. Despite the Covid-19 freeze on physical meetings, the DRLUP process continues. The DRLUP Commission is always accepting feedback, you can learn about upcoming events and connect with them by visiting their engagement website Engagedawson.planyukon.ca
In Your Words
In response to all the submissions it has received the Dawson Reginal Land Use Planning (DRLUP) Commission has issued a report, called “In Your Words”. This is a compendium of the comments the Commission has received thus far.
Some comments relate to the DRLUP Commission Resource Assessment Report, most of them are Interests and Issues submissions. YCS staff have analysed the comments and has perceived the following key takeaways:
- The mining community is motivated and organized; they have dominated engagement so far.
- The Conservation Community needs to engage more vigorously!
- Miners insist they will be content with industrializing only 1% of the region at any one time.
- But they want permanent access to 100% so they can decide exactly which 1% they want, at which time.
The DRLUP Commission discussed and assessed how well their Engagement strategy is working. They found they have not adequately engaged with several identifiable groups including:
- Elders/Seniors and Youth,
- Tourism Industry,
- Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens.
Other interesting developments as noted by YCS staff:
- White River First Nation is opposed to the Plan and Process because they feel shut out of it; they are calling for equal representation and decision making powers for all affected FNs who’s asserted territories overlap with the planning region.
- Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provided a crackerjack “Cliome” (Climate-Biome) submission, which projected how climate change will affect the ecology of the region. WCS identified habitat connectivity and large river corridors as priorities for the Plan
- The Yukon Chamber of Mines asserted that one in six jobs in the Yukon are dependent upon a mine and therefore no land should be withdrawn from staking.
Perhaps the most interesting and troubling part of the report was the results from the on-line survey. This is where the mining community seemed to have really engaged.
- 64 miners responded to the survey, compared to 7 from the conservation community (and only 3 from tourism).
- Unsurprisingly, a common sentiment expressed by respondents was that most tourists come for the mining.
A summary of issues that were identified in the "In Your Words" report as needing improvement:
- Do not withdraw any more land from staking.
- Build more roads
- Support placer mining
- Reduce impact of placer mining.
- Use more local renewable resources
- More protected areas
- Better infrastructure (for example, trails) to encourage ecotourism
- Potential related to FN tourism
- Mining tourism
- Communicate with land users
- Communicate with partners
There was general agreement that there has been an increase in population and impacts, and a decrease in wildlife and intact habitat. The inescapable conclusion from YCS is that the mining community has been first out of the gate when it comes to engagement in the DRLUP compared to the conservation, tourism, and First Nation communities. This is the precise opposite of what happened during the Peel Watershed Plan process.
Next Steps for the Dawson Regional Planning Commission:
- Finalize the Resource Assessment Report
- Present the Draft Plan Goals and Objectives to the public for engagement some time in the summer of 2020.
- Present a Draft Plan in fall 2020.
What can YCS members do?
Write to the DRLUPC:
Debbie Kormendy, Chair,
Dawson Land Use Planning Commission
Suite 201, 307 Jarvis St. Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2H3
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In your letter, tell the Commission what you want to see in the plan- some ideas here:
- A plan that puts Conservation as its top priority and retains the wilderness characteristic of most of the Planning Region
- At least 50% of the planning region set aside for conservation
- A Special Management Area for the Yukon River Corridor
- A moratorium on staking while the Plan is under development
- A threshold approach to development impacts, including roads.
- This means setting a maximum area per square km that can be developed in any one Land Management Unit
- Any new road proposals must include a fully funded decommissioning plan
YCS has submitted its priorities we want to see in the Dawson Regional Land Use Plan. We encourage you to read it, and to read the other submissions by other parties, at https://engagedawson.planyukon.ca/index.php
The key messages YCS submitted were:
The Yukon River corridor should be a Special Management Area (SMA). This means a special management plan for the river and the riparian areas and cliffs adjacent to the river.
At least half the planning region should be set aside for conservation purposes.
There should be a moratorium on mineral staking in the planning region while the plan is being developed, at the very least areas of high conservation values should be withdrawn from staking.
The wilderness characteristics of most of the planning region should be maintained.